A frequency-based exploratory study of word combinations by EFL learners towards adjective-noun collocations

Akbaş E., Yükselir C.



The mastery of formulaic sequences by language learners is considered to be crucial since it enables them to accomplish the basic communicative requirements (Wray, 2002) of target language use. Of all the formulaic sequences, the mastery of collocations is known to have an enormous impact on learners’ ability to move beyond the intermediate level. This data-driven study explores the word combinations (both conventional and unconventional L2 strings) of L2 users of English. Specifically, the adjective-noun combinations in an L2 corpus (Turkish Undergraduate Writers of English) were explored to find the potential L2 strings functioning as unconventional collocations. Then, these L2 strings were compared with the adjective-noun collocations in the LOCNESS corpus to determine whether the choices made by L2 learners differed from those of L1 users. The findings show that the spectrum of the L2 word combinations was broader in comparison with LOCNESS. The results suggest that the L2 learners produced a higher number of unconventional collocations than conventional collocations matching with the L1. The L2 strings support that the use of collocations can be rather problematic for learners of English however advanced they are. Some pedagogical implications of the findings for explicit collocation and vocabulary teaching are discussed.