Stellenbosch Papers in Linguistics

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Testing controlled productive knowledge of adverb-verb collocations in junior researchers using English as a foreign language

Déogratias Nizonkiza, Kris Van De Poel


The present study examines English as a Foreign Language (EFL) junior researchers’ use of adverbverb collocations of academic vocabulary in both free-written and controlled productions. A small corpus was compiled and analysed in order to identify verbs in adverb-verb combinations and examine which ones were collocated correctly or erroneously. A controlled productive test of adverb-verb collocations, with verbs selected from the Academic Word List (Coxhead 2000) and adverbs selected from Crowther, Dignen and Lea’s (2002) Oxford collocations dictionary for students of English was also administered to participants. Results indicate that free-productive knowledge of adverb-verb collocations is challenging for EFL users. This finding supports previous studies that focused mainly on verb-noun collocations, and that reached the conclusion that EFL students are not sensitive enough to collocations to use them in their written productions (cf. Nesselhauf 2005). This finding is extended here to adverb-verb collocations. The study also reveals that controlled productive knowledge of adverbverb collocations is less problematic. Based on these results, teaching strategies aimed at improving the use of adverb-verb collocations among EFL users are proposed.

Keywords: academic writing, adverb-verb collocations, productive knowledge of collocations, English as a Foreign Language (EFL), Academic Word List (AWL)
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