The relationship between productive knowledge of collocations and academic literacy in tertiary level students
This research explores tertiary level L2 students’ mastery of the collocations pertaining to the Academic Word List (AWL) and the extent to which their knowledge of collocations grows alongside their academic literacy. A collocation test modelled on Laufer and Nation (1999), with target words selected from Coxhead’s (2000) AWL was administered to students from theNorth-West University, Potchefstroom Campus. Results indicate that these collocations pose problems for L2 students. This finding supports and complements Nesselhauf’s (2005) and Laufer and Waldman’s (2011) findings that collocations are challenging for L2 students, even at advanced levels. Furthermore, scores in the collocation test correlate significantly with the Test of Academic Literacy Levels (TALL),
indicating that knowledge of collocations corresponds to students’ academic literacy. The pedagogical consequences these results have for the widespread attempt to improve tertiary level students’ use of collocations in writing are discussed1.
Key words: productive knowledge of collocations, academic literacy, academic word list, L2 writing