Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Teaching collocations

Teaching Collocation

Vocabulary instruction in general, and certainly the instruction of collocation, is not much emphasized. However, there are some general principles for teaching collocation:
  1. 1
    Teach students the term “collocation” and the rationale for learning it. Once they know the rationale behind instruction, they become more motivated to learn.
  2. 2
    Notice which words go together when giving out a new reading. Call students’ attention to key words and the words that “go” with them, and have them underline collocations. On any given page, for example, there is likely to be numerous collocates. Spend some time practicing and interacting with these collocations with each reading.
  3. 3
    Focus on “salient language,” language students may use a lot or that is related to the curriculum: for example, the phrase “on the other hand” is used a lot in academic language, and students often make mistakes in it: “in the other hand,” “on the other hands,” etc. Explicitly teaching the phrase and practicing it is a valuable investment of course time.
  4. 4
    Contrast two words:
    • make         do
    • list their collocates
  5. 5
    Extend it: Have students make a list of things they need to accomplish that week, using “make “ and “do.” This establishes some of the differences between the two words (which are largely collocational).
  6. 6
    Matching exercises/completion exercises: have students complete a sentence with the correct collocation or match words to their collocates: do homeworkgive a presentation.
  7. 7
    Surveys: have students survey their classmates about their activities, including verbs and their collocations, for example.
  8. 8
    Have students practice the phrases you’ve targeted. Once students been explicitly taught “in contrast to” and “on the other hand,” for example, have them practice these collocations in journal and essay assignments.
  9. 9
    Write a sketch/dialogue. Put some collocates on the board learned from reading over the last week: e.g., “regular exercise,” “healthy diet,” “small portion size” and have students create a dialogue in pairs and practice it.
  10. 10
    Write poetic descriptions of beloved person or place with adjective+noun combinations or adverb+adjective combinations. Again, give students some of the language for the task on the board or in a handout: “dear friend,” “old friend,” “passionately embrace,” “fond farewell,” etc.
    Then have them create a poem with it.

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