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Teaching Collocations To Adult Learners In Oman English Language Essay

This paper sets out to research one of the most common jobs that English as a Foreign Language ( EFL ) pupils face. Recent research ( to be discussed in subdivision 1 ) has indicated that persons need to turn to the issue of collocation in order to go more successful both inside and outside the schoolroom environments. Furthermore, it is widely acknowledged in the English Language Teaching ( ELT ) literature that pupils need to be introduced and encouraged to go cognizant of collocation in the early phases of acquisition ( Lewis, 1993:117 ) .

It seems to be true that most instructors are cognizant of the fact that their pupils have jobs in taking the appropriate combinations of words. The undermentioned illustrations indicate my ain pupils ‘ incorrect efforts at word combination based on a old research I conducted in 2008 ( See Appendix A for more illustrations ) .

Work in down occupations

work in large occupation

Strong accident

Black twenty-four hours

It is the native talker ‘s experience of what is by and large accepted in the English linguistic communication which enables them to acknowledge that fatal accident is right whereas strong accident is unacceptable. One method for a non-native talker to derive the ability to build the right collocations is by being made aware of them in a schoolroom state of affairs.

Biskup ( 1992 ) states that collocational mistakes constitute a high per centum of inaccuracy committed by L2 scholars. A cardinal facet of his statement is that it is hard for non-native talkers of English to foretell the appropriate collocation for an point of vocabulary doing them to trust on their L1.

The purpose of this essay is to increase consciousness of the importance of learning collocations in EFL schoolrooms in order for scholars to get accurate and native-like competency.

This essay will be divided into two chief subdivisions. The first subdivision discusses the definitions of collocation from different bookmans ‘ positions and a general apprehension of the term will be emphasised. I will so turn my attending to the importance of learning collocations in EFL schoolrooms. Finally, I will clear up which collocations should be taught harmonizing to research workers.

The 2nd subdivision will discourse different methodological analysiss that are suited for learning collocations to adult scholars in Oman, and the deductions of the lexical attack will be analysed. This essay will reason by supplying the reader with the stuffs I believe to be suited for Omani pupils.


1.1 What Does Collocation Mean?

The term collocation has been used and understood in many different ways ; nevertheless, it is non possible to discourse all of these definitions in this essay due to word restraints. Alternatively, I shall specify the term harmonizing to Firth ( 1957:181 ) , who uses the term technically for the first clip in 1957. He states that “ we shall cognize a word by the company it keeps ” . Harmonizing to Firth, “ Collocations are statements of accustomed or customary topographic points of that word ” . Firth ‘s definition of collocations is quantitative in that it depends on how frequent a set of words co-occur together.

Firth ‘s definition is supported subsequently by Greenbaum ( 1974: 82 ) who defines collocation as “ a frequent accompaniment of two lexical points in the linguistic communication ” . However, it is argued by Mackin ( 1978 ) that this definition does n’t demo how often words should look together in order to be seen as “ collocations ” . It is besides argued by Shin and Nation ( 2007 ) that collocation is non restricted to two or three sets of words, doing Firth ‘s definition expression square and unsatisfying.

Collocations are defined in the simplest term as words that typically occur together in a non-random frequence. It is, nevertheless, of import to observe that there have been many footings used to intend words that co-occur together. The followers are some of the most common footings used ( adapted from Carter & A ; McCarthy, 1988 ; Tannen, 1989 ; Fillmore, 1979 ; Kinnedy, 1990 ; Wray, 2002 ) .

Free combination: commit, analyze, condemn, discuss, ( etc ) a slaying

Prefabricated modus operandi: what make you make, how are you

Phrasal restraints: by pure happenstance

Parlances: kick the pail

Set phrase Fixed phrase: in brief

Poly words: set up with

Formulaic language cliches Deictic sayings: as a affair of fact

The usage of these footings shows great confusion to non-native talkers, which needs to be clarified more.

Wray ( 2002 ) shows a better and clearer apprehension of the term when he suggests the thought of stand foring the lexical phrases as a continuum harmonizing to flexibleness and called collocation as a more unstable “ formulaic ” that is chosen harmonizing to penchants and inclinations. However, penchants and inclinations seem to be subjective and unpredictable to non- native talkers of English.

Nattinger and De Carrico ( 1992 ) suggest that the lexical points can be represented as a continuum ( see Figure 1 )


Idioms collocations junctions free combination

( by and big ) ( kick the pail ) ( off with his caput ) ( see the river )

This representation suggests that parlances are ‘more frozen ‘ and less productive compared with the other lexical phrases. Collocations appear to be approximately predictable yet are still restricted. Junctions are a type of collocations, where permutations are more possible but non every bit much as free combination phrases. The job with this representation is that it is limited to merely four lexical points and ignores others like prefabricated modus operandi and phrasal constrain. Another job appears to be the obscure distinction between collocations and junctions and do it difficult for scholars of English as a foreign linguistic communication to foretell the grade of freedom in combination with respects to collocation and junction.

It is of import to clear up that I will be utilizing the term ‘collocation ‘ to intend two individual points that often co-occur together. I have besides restricted the usage of collocation to the relationship between content words ( verb, noun, adjectives, and adverbs ) which are called ‘lexical collocations ‘ . These differ from grammatical collocations in that lexical collocations do non affect collocation of preposition. This is done to avoid convergence with other footings and to supply the reader with a clearer definition.

1.2 Why Should We Teach Collocations?

Harmonizing to Benson, Benson and Ilson ( 1985:285 ) , “ collocations are arbitrary and unpredictable ” and that makes it hard for non-native talker to get by with them. Despite the arbitrary nature of collocations, it is recommended by many other research workers that instructors should actuate their pupils to larn collocations.

An experiment conducted by Bahns and Eldaw ( 1990 ) , dwelling of interlingual rendition and gap-filling undertakings with 58 advanced German pupils, shows that collocations are a major job to grownup scholars. They argue that some collocations can be translated while others can non. However, accounts on which collocations are translatable were non provided. This makes it hard to foretell which collocations are more debatable to scholars of EFL.

Furthermore, collocations are seen as permeant by research workers. Tannen ( 1989 ) , for illustration, assumes that “ linguistic communication is less freely generated, more pre-patterned than most lingual theory acknowledge ” . Pervasiveness of collocation reduces the opportunity for non-native talker to fruitfully bring forth them unless they are guided in schoolrooms.

On the other manus, Woolard ( 2000 ) disagrees with learning collocations in schoolrooms and argues that pupils should be encouraged to partake in independent acquisition.

From my prospective, it seems that really few Omani pupils have reached the independent phase. This unluckily puts more force per unit area on the instructors to include this of import country in the instruction course of study. It has been agreed that there are three grounds for learning collocations in schoolrooms:

Guaranting more Exposure to English

Harmonizing to Bahns ( 1998 ) , Greenbaum ( 1987 ) , Lewis ( 1993 ) and Lewis ( 2008 ) learning collocations in the EFL schoolroom is of import to raise pupils ‘ exposure to the mark linguistic communication. It is said that scholars may bring forth accurate sentences but many of these may non sound native-like. Mackin ( 1978 ) and Greenbaum ( 1974 ) point out the demand to include lexical collocations in EFL Learners lexicons.

Mackin ( 1978 ) suggests that it is hard for non-native talker to build collocations such as “ weak tea ” instead than “ lame tea ” . However, it can be learned through hypothesizing or by being explicitly taught in schoolrooms. While non all of the pupils have the opportunity of sing collocations with native talkers, analyzing these collocations remains the lone solution to get a native-like competency.

Reducing Negative Transfer signifier L1

Lewis ( 1993 ) emphasizes that all linguistic communications utilize a broad scope of word combinations. He adds that pupils utilize their first linguistic communication in absence of competency in their 2nd linguistic communication which leads to incorrect collocations in English. As a consequence, pupils need a facilitator to assist them grok the accurate combination of words in English.

This is supported by Biskup ‘s ( 1992 ) empirical survey on German and Polish pupils where they were asked to interpret some L1 collocations into English. The survey shows that pupils ‘ deficiency of competency in English collocations makes them rely to a great extent on their L1. This seems to be similar to other EFL pupils all over the universe ; nevertheless, pupils sometimes prefer to trust on the collocations they know alternatively of seeking or interpreting collocations from their L1.

Enhancing Students Accuracy and Fluency

Teaching collocations is one of the most ambitious countries that instructors have to cover with in EFL schoolrooms. However, it is extremely recommended that collocations should be taught particularly to adult scholars because they improve scholars ‘ truth and eloquence and helps them to get a native like competency ( Wray, 2002 ) .

Gairns and Redman ( 1986 ) and Woolard ( 2000 ) add that learning collocations help to spread out the scholar ‘s cognition of words and give them new significances for the words they already know. Gairns and Redman ( 1986 ) explicate farther that pupils use the adjectives “ light ” , “ weak ” , “ strong ” , “ heavy ” but they may non utilize them accurately when seeking to unite them with other words, which are described as “ successful linguistic communication ” usage by Lewis ( 1993 ) . Although utilizing the term “ successful linguistic communication ” seems to be slippery and subjective, Lewis ( 1993 ) limited the term to utilizing the linguistic communication accurately, fluently and most of import of course.

1.3 Which Collocations demand be learnt?

One chief concern with learning collocations is the big figure which is said to be 10s of 1000s as estimated by Mackin ( 1978 ) . It seems that Mackin ‘s concern of learning all of these collocations is far from world. So, determinations of which collocations are to be taught are required sing the undermentioned issues:

Resources: the Corpus and Harmonies

Shin and Nation ( 2007 ) , Fox ( 1998 ) and Willis ( 1998 ) suggest that it is of import to utilize spoken linguistic communication to make up one’s mind which collocations to learn. Fox ( 1998 ) adds that the 10 million words which are found in the spoken subdivision of the British National Corpus ( BNC ) could be used as a beginning for the most common forms of spoken collocations. One job seems to be that linguistic communication alterations overtime and these collocations might significantly alter within old ages which require frequent updating of the list.

Fox ( 1998 ) besides believes that words should be taught harmonizing to their absolute frequence. He adds that it is non the lone standards but it helps instructors to concentrate on the most of import and common words. It is every bit of import to cognize the less frequent collocations so clip will non be wasted on learning them. Fox makes the averment that instructors should give pupils schemes to get by with collocation, one of which is the usage of harmonies.

Harmony is defined by Koosha & A ; Jafarpour ( 2006 ) as “ a method of analysing linguistic communication by analyzing constructions and lexical forms found in digital database ” . Harmonies might assist pupils to acknowledge the collocation in different contexts and accordingly cognize how it is used by native talkers.

Fox ‘s suggestion is supported by Willis ( 1998 ) who states that “ the survey of linguistic communication is frequently corpus- based ” . Harmonizing to Willis, concordances aid pupils to talk and compose fluently and of course particularly these yearss when most pupils have entree to the electronic database.

Two Word Collocations vs. Multi Words Collocations

Harmonizing to Shin and Nation ( 2007 ) , two word collocations consist of 77 % of the entire figure of collocations. He adds that when seeking to analyse the top 100 collocations ( See Appendix B ) , and the bottom 100 collocations, it seems that two word collocations are more common.

Spoken V. Written Collocations

Another interesting point made by Shin and Nation ( 2007 ) is that there is a difference between spoken and written collocations. They draw attending to the fact that there are merely 15 collocations which occur in both the top 50 written collocations and the top 50 spoken collocations which prove that spoken collocations are non the same as the written 1s.

Lewis ( 1993 ) believes that spoken collocations must be given more importance in EFL learning than written collocations and he adds that the purpose of linguistic communication instruction is to assist pupils to utilize linguistic communication more communicatively. Lewis ‘s ( 1994 ) claim shows a kind of bias against composing whereas in most schools composing is perceived with equal importance to talking which makes written collocations every bit of import as the spoken 1s.

Grammatical vs. Lexical Collocations

Grammatical collocation is defined by Biskup ( 1993 ) as a combination of a content word ( verb, noun or adjectival ) and a grammatical word such as a preposition. Harmonizing to Koosha & A ; Jafarpour ( 2006 ) , it is more of import to learn the grammatical collocations ( particularly collocations of preposition ) because they are the most debatable collocations for EFL scholars. Woolard ( 2000 ) disagrees and believes that instructors should concentrate on lexical collocations and he suggests that instructors can get down with the collocation of “ do and do ” to present the impression of collocation to pupils.

On the other manus, ‘lexical collocation ” is defined by Bahns ( 1998 ) as noun, verb, and adjectival and adverb combination. An illustration of lexical collocation is verb+ noun collocation ( establish a merchandise, pose a job ) , adjective+ noun ( fatal accident, bright coloring material ) , verb+ adverb ( pulled steadily, whispered quietly ) , noun+ noun ( rush of choler, sense of pride ) adverbs+ adjectives ( to the full cognizant, merrily married ) ( adapted from McCarthy, 2007 ) .

It is, nevertheless, more of import to learn pupils the lexical collocations because they add more pregnant to words they already know and make their linguistic communication more effectual and comprehendible.

Section Two

Teaching Collocations to Adult Learners in Oman

In Oman, collocations seem to be neglected in schoolroom instruction. Very few instructors try to raise pupils ‘ consciousness of how words are combined together in a non-random manner. Unfortunately, the research on how collocations should be taught to Arabic scholars is non merely uncommon but besides unsatisfactory. Personally, I have non experienced instruction or being taught collocations in the schoolroom. As a consequence, I am traveling to present the lexical attack and give farther stuffs that can be applicable for learning grownup scholars in Oman.

2.1 Deductions of the lexical Approach for Teaching Collocations

Harmonizing to Channel ( 1981 ) , most of pupils ‘ mistakes result from a deficiency of accent on vocabulary in course of study. It is non surprising that most course of studies are organized to cover more grammar than vocabulary, which prevents pupils doing the right pick when it comes to making collocations.

The lexical attack is based on comprehending a linguistic communication as fundamentally “ holistic _ organic ” ( Lewis, 1993: 34 ) . He states that one major rule of the lexical attack is that “ linguistic communication consists of grammaticalised lexis, non lexicalized grammar ” ( ibid:34 ) .

A major rule is that linguistic communication consists of balls non single words. Collocations are considered as a cardinal lingual thought of the lexical attack. There are two grounds provided by Lewis ( 2008 ) in learning words with other partner-words instead than learning single vocabulary. First, vocabulary does non usually occur as separate words in texts but they occur in relation with other words and this likely makes it hard to learn the possible spouses that a individual word may take. Second, it is considered easier to learn the linguistic communication as a whole and so interrupt it down to its basic constituents instead than learning single words and inquiring scholars to build sentences.

2.2: Materials for Teaching Collocations

Using Circles

A good method of learning collocations is by puting the vocabulary in circles and inquiring pupils to traverse out the incorrect combination ( s ) , as illustrated in figures 2 & A ; 3 ( adapted from Gairns and Redman, 1986 ) . Teachers can inquire scholars to traverse out the inappropriate combination between the chief word like dish, coffin nail and the possible collocations in the circle.

Heavy light mild

Strong hebdomad Fig.2

A dish

Strong visible radiation mild

weak heavy Fig.3


Using Grids

Another technique is by supplying grids which have the words you are taking to learn and the possible collocations. Students are supposed to cognize the mark vocabulary and they are asked to take the appropriate collocations. This might be rather disputing if the mark vocabulary is someway seen every bit synonyms as the undermentioned illustration shows:

Fig. 4

adult female

adult male


Canis familiaris












































( Adapted from Channel, 1981 )

A ( + ) mark means that there is possible collocation between the given adjective and the noun. The instructor can empty the boxes and ask pupils to set a ( + ) where there is a possible collocation.

Collocations in Texts

Teachers can use texts from newspapers or magazines as reliable stuffs. These could be used to place the appropriate ways of uniting words. The undermentioned infusion from the Times newspaper illustrates this method:

The figures, coming after a surprise autumn to 51.8 in November, suggest Britain ‘s economic system ended the twelvemonth on a strong terms and will hike outlooks that the state emerged from recession in the 4th one-fourth with positive GDP growing.

Teachers can foreground some of adjectives like: surprise, strong, encouragement, positive. Students could place the collocations in the text or usage lexicons to make other possible collocations.

Using Boxs

Teachers can supply scholars with boxes that contain words and their collocations and ask pupils to compose sentences. The undermentioned high spots this activity:


That sounds

That ‘s

That must be

That must hold been









( Adapted from Lewis, 2008 )

Using Internets

A good scheme found in many text books is the net as the undermentioned illustrations figures 6 & A ; 7 indicate:


a fulfilling occupation a high -powered occupation

Steady occupation JOB apply for a occupation

A demanding occupation Offer a occupation a lasting occupation

( Adapted from McCarthy 2005 )


Carry out work take on work

Complete a work WORK supervise

Start work work closely

( Adapted from McCarthy 2007 )

These are some of many techniques that could be used to learn collocations. It is of import to observe that instructors can come up with many other techniques that suit the group of scholars they are covering with.


It is likely true to state that collocations have been the losing nexus in EFL vocabulary learning which might be due to the great figure of collocations ( as antecedently discussed in 1.3 ) . This essay had discussed the importance of utilizing the lexical attack to learning linguistic communication as “ balls ” . Many surveies have proved that most pupils find it hard to make collocations and they produce unusual looks that are non understood by native talkers. As a consequence, collocations should be taught at schools to guarantee more exposure to English, cut down negative transportation from pupil ‘s female parent lingua and better pupils ‘ truth and eloquence.

It has stated that instructors should do house determinations whether to learn two or multi-word collocations, spoken or written collocations, lexical or grammatical collocations harmonizing to the purposes of the class and their mark group.

This essay has demonstrated that collocations have been overlooked in Omani text editions and as a effect grownup scholars may non cognize what collocations mean which leads them to trust on their L1, Arabic, to unite words and concept phrases like high occupation and black twenty-four hours. This essay has provided some stuffs such as the usage of grids, boxes, cyberspaces, and reliable texts for instructors to use in order to learn collocations and achieve their intended end of assisting pupils to talk English accurately, fluently and more native-like.

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