Aspects of Collocational Knowledge

Andy Barfield,

University of Tsukuba 

Starting research goals  

1)      To identify how confidently students know selected core and AWL verbs;

2)      To identify which core and AWL verbs can be selected as confidently known for a following verb + noun collocation experiment [eCoref ~ from the General Service List (West, 1953); AWL~ from the New Academic Word List (Coxhead, 2000)].

 

Selection of verbs

149 verbs: GSL 1-1000 (25); GSL 1000-2000 (24); AWL Level 1 (27); AWL Level 2 (26); AWL Level 3 (27); AWL Level 4 (20).

 

Method: Self-reported knowledge scaling  (cf., Meara, 1999; Shillaw, 2001;Waring, 1999)

1  I have never seen this verb       

2  I have seen but donft know this verb     

3  I know this verb but have to think about it

4  I know this verb without thinking

 

 

1

2

3

4

achieve

O

O

O

O

acquire

O

O

O

O

adopt

O

O

O

O

cthrough toc

undertake

O

O

O

O

vary

O

O

O

O

whisper

O

O

O

O

write

O

O

O

O

 

Administered to: 217 students [Area Studies (17); Engineering Systems (27); Environmental Science (37); Humanities (36); Medical Science (30); Physical Education (36); Social Management and Policy (34)—all first-year undergraduates except for Area Studies, a postgraduate class.]

 

Results

bulletReliability high: Alpha Cronbach (ƒΏ .96)
bulletMost-known verbs: ask, change, answer, develop, forget, communicate, collect, approach, write, build, discuss, research, produce, protect, manage, explain, select, solve, employ, publish, refuse, consider, affect, create, break, count, focus, concentrate, remove, hurt, avoid, maintain, project, achieve, occur, comment, borrow, mention, stress, require, demonstrate, identify, conclude, admit, trust, feed, obey and defend.
bulletLeast-known verbs: maximize, consent, distribute, interact, seize, undertake, invest, attribute, compute, restrict, legislate, impose, derive, retain, compensate, integrate, assess, confer, implicate, deduce, convene, negate, implement and constrain.
bulletComparison across groups:  One-way ANOVA and comparison of means

 

Discussion

bulletDistribution of verbs from different frequency sources
bulletDifferentiation of learners of different proficiency
bulletSelection of 40 verbs for following verb + noun collocation experiment (with 3 noun collocations per verb)

 

Example (from the Bank of English 100 million corpus)

RECOMMEND          3549  action 36          book 33           changes 33

RECOMMENDS   1397  use 23

RECOMMENDED       6585  changes 54

 

 

Experiment 2  Self-reported knowledge scaling for the nouns selected for the verb + noun collocations (N = 93)

 

Table 1  Nouns with mean recognition scores <3.7


Noun

Mean Score

BNC rank

reputation

2.96

3923

budget

3.5

1078

investigation

3.56

1416

willingness

3.6

5014

leaflets

2.3

3487

ban

3.39

3037

sanctions

2.05

4333

allegations

1.86

3360

ceasefire

1.87

0

approval

3.56

2187

programme

3.54

395

moisture

3.63

0

 

 

Experiment 3  Self-reported knowledge scaling for verb + noun collocations (N = 93)

bulletResults
bulletDiscussion

Present research study:  Learner personal constructs of collocations


Table 2  The most recognized collocations

 

Collocation

BNC Verb

BNC Noun

Collocation Mean

change

mind

351

448

3.84

protect

body

1174

294

3.63

explain

reasons

537

333

3.66

protect

environment

1174

717

3.68

govern

country

2938

193

3.56

predict

future

2396

730

3.58

recommend

book

1618

252

3.55

break

record

532

524

3.39

explain

problem

537

168

3.46

change

policy

351

2047

3.37

observe

behaviour

1323

793

3.32

threaten

future

1475

730

3.40

break

rules

532

561

3.45

solve

mystery

2262

2837

3.31

occupy

space

2021

734

3.39

declare

independence

1583

2023

3.41

occupy

mind

2021

448

3.18

define

word

1097

213

3.26

conduct

orchestra

1835

3940

3.22

defend

title

2182

869

3.17

predict

victory

2396

1530

3.06

construct

theory

2225

607

3.04

promote

peace

1571

1142

3.10

declare

war

1583

331

3.11

consume

energy

4841

777

3.14

seek

advice

624

971

3.02

 

References

 

Barfield A.W. (2001, July). Collocation design and development. Paper presented at the 11th Vocabulary Acquisition Research Group Network Conference, Swansea University, UK.

Barfield A.W. (2002, March, in press). Knowledge-scaling of lexical verbs: Creating a database. University of Tsukuba: Studies in Foreign Language Teaching, 24.

Coxhead, A. (2000). A new academic word list. TESOL Quarterly, 34 (2), 213-238.

Kilgarriff, A.  (March, 1996).  BNC database and word frequency lists.   Available on-line:  http://www.itri.bton.ac.uk/~Adam.Kilgarriff/bnc-readme.html

Meara, P.M. (1999). The vocabulary knowledge framework. Discussion paper. Available at: http://www.swan.ac.uk/cals/calsres/vlibrary/pm96d.htm

Shillaw, J. (2001, July). Scaling yes / no tests. Paper presented at the 11th Vocabulary Acquisition Research Group Network Conference, Swansea University, UK.

Waring, R. (1999). Tasks for assessing second language receptive and productive vocabulary. Ph.D. Thesis.

West, M. (1953). A general service list of English words. London: Longman.

Xue Guoyi & Nation, I.S.P. (1984). A university word list. Language Learning and Communication 3 (2), 215-229.