Second Language Collocation Acquisition: Challenges for Learners and Pedagogical Insights from Empirical Research


ผศ.ดร.สรุจ ศุภศิรประภา


The Asia Journal of TEFL


Recent years have seen an increase in theoretical discussions and empirical research on second language (L2) collocation acquisition (eg, Boers & Lindstromberg, 2012; Webb, Newton, & Chang, 2013; Wolter & Gyllstad, 2013). This increase reflects the expansion of work adopting usage-based approaches to language acquisition, which argue for the central role of multi-word units and statistical information in input, such as frequency of lexical co-occurrence, in L2 acquisition (Ellis, 2011, 2013; Ortega, 2013). The increase also follows from the growth of work in corpus linguistics (eg, Gries, 2010) and the observation that an appropriate use of collocations indicates proficient L2 production (eg, Pawley & Syder, 1983). In this paper, I first discuss specific definitions of the term collocations, which is sometimes vaguely defined in L2 research. This discussion is followed by a summary of theoretical issues and empirical evidence pertaining to the nature of and challenges in L2 collocation acquisition (eg, Ellis, 2011, 2013; Wray, 2002). In addition, drawing on pedagogically–oriented empirical studies to date, I offer research-based insights as to how classroom instruction may facilitate L2 collocation acquisition. Limitations in existing studies and future research directions are then briefly discussed.

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