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Lesson 7: How can we get back home? So you want to be a teacher? A discussion and explanation of collocations and practical suggestions for teaching them. How can I help my students with collocations? Advanced students need to be aware of the importance of collocation. I would argue that students at every level need to be aware of the importance of collocation, as I believe collocation can be used not only to help learners understand and manage lexis but also to communicate ideas more effectively.
For example, one of my learners recently asked the difference in meaning between glance and glimpse. It was immediately clear to me how helpful it was to use collocation to highlight the differences between the two verbs. I feel that it is very useful to teach learners those collocations with a noun as a key word. Nouns are also important because they are usually the words that carry the most meaning within a sentence. This puts a greater pressure on the teacher when making the decision about whether to spend time on a particular collocation.
With the second two verbs in this example, the unpredictability of the combination is also a factor. Moreover, this would be a difficult collocation for learners to work out just by knowing the meaning of the individual parts, so would therefore merit some class time. What problems do learners have with collocation, and how can we help? A major stumbling block to most learners is the fact that there are so many possible collocations and that the choice of which word to collocate with, say, a noun is completely arbitrary. Well, why is it have a coffee not drink a coffee? If students are encouraged to record collocations as they occur, they have a permanent record of which combinations are possible. There are various ways for learners to record new collocations in their vocabulary notebooks.
Organisation is really a matter for individual learners, though, as it should be done according to personal preference to minimise the learning burden. Bahns argues that because of this untranslatability teachers should focus on collocations which can not be translated directly, pointing out contrasts to students instead of similarities. If we substitute the asterisked words for miraculously, have, made, talking and reason, these utterances become more natural and nativelike. Collocation grids can be useful in helping learners to understand which words are possible collocates and which aren’t, by simply ticking the correct combination. Such grids are also very useful for showing the difference in meaning or use between two or three words that appear almost the same.
The grid may then be used to contrast with L1 possibilities for collocation. When Clifford met Annie, they found one thing in common. So together they have written the ultimate list, a list of rules for their marriage. This prenuptial agreementitemizes every detail of their lives together, from shopping to sex. Timothy Laurence met them in Florida in the apartment they share. Newspaper articles, opening paragraphs of books and videos of TV soap operas or sports commentaries also lend themselves to this kind of noticing activity. However, we should be careful to choose which collocations we focus on in terms of frequency , level and suitability for our particular group of learners.
Without a knowledge of collocation, learners are unable to chunk, link and stress longer sentences correctly, making them sound unnatural. Even with advanced classes, choral drilling is the best way to give students extra time to work on this aspect of collocation. Once the collocations have been pointed out, several activities can be produced to help the students become familiar with them. These can be used as the initial part of a test-teach-test approach to see what the learners already know, or to revise collocations from a previous lesson. This form of recycling is a good way to help learners remember the collocations .
Board races where the teacher calls out one half of the collocation and the students work in teams to write the other half on the board. This activity can be extended by asking students to suggest other possible collocates. Cloze activities such as a gapped transcription of a listening text, or sentences in which half the collocation has been deleted. I have used surveys, reports and stories with different levels of learners to practise previously-learnt collocations in context more communicatively. With collocations organised by topic, learners can conduct a survey among their classmates and follow it up with a written or oral report.
With collocations organised by key-word , learners can be given a set of cards with the collocations written on them which they have to put into some kind of chronological order. How about basing a whole morning round a single word? These ideas would work for many items. You must be signed in to rate. Glad to hear that you like it. It is a good idea for the teacher to identify what they think are good examples of chunking and linking in specific texts so they are appropriate for their classes’s level. To provide one example here would mean it is out of context and therefore not so memorable for students.