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How to Use Collocation to Facilitating Academic Writing


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Title: How to Use Collocation to Facilitating Academic Writing

How to Use Collocation to Facilitating Academic
  • Posen Liao
  • National Taipei University

Publish (in English) or perish?
  • English has become the worlds predominant
    language of research.
  • Many European and Japanese journals have begun a
    switch away from publishing articles in native
    languages to a new editorial policies that
    required English for the language of publication.
  • Publications in the local language are often not
    counted of academic performance (faculty
    recognition, promotion, etc.).

Perceptions about writing in English by HK
  • Over 90 of 585 respondents said that English was
    the most important language for publication, with
    only 7 putting Chinese.
  • 87 expressed confidence to write a
    single-authored paper in English.
  • 68 felt they were disadvantaged when attempting
    to publish in English when they compared
    themselves with native English speakers.
    (Flowerdew, 2000)

Teaching academic writing
  • In Taiwan, however, teaching English academic
    writing to college students has not been given
    the importance it deserves.
  • Many teachers regard research paper writing as
    one the most difficult subjects to teach.
  • Students are from different academic disciplines
    teachers face a challenge to meet their different
    needs in writing a research paper.

Purpose of this speech
  • This speech attempts to use collocation approach
    to help students write research papers in English
    on their own.
  • This approach argues that language consists of
    meaningful chunks or phrases that, when combined
    properly, can produce a coherent text.
  • Students need to learn skills for searching a
    text or corpus in ways which help them expand
    mental lexicons or collocations and possess a
    vast repertoire of ready-made expressions and

The definitions of collocation
  • Lewis(2000)certain words co-occur in natural
    text with greater than random frequency. (e.g.
    strong wind/ heavy rain)
  • Oxford Collocations Dictionary for Students of
    English the way words combine in a language to
    produce natural-sounding speech and writing.
    (reach a goal/ an aim)

Classification of collocation
  • Benson, Benson Ilson (2007) Collocations fall
    into two major groups
  • Grammatical collocations a phrase consisting of
    a dominant word (nouns, adjectives, verbs) and a
    preposition or grammatical structure.
  • Lexical collocations consist of nouns,
    adjectives, verbs, and adverbs, and do not
    contain prepositions, infinitives, or clauses.

Classification of collocation
  • G1?N Prep?The price of apathy towards public
    affairs is to be ruled by evil men.
  • G2?N to Inf? It was a pleasure to do business
    with you.
  • G3?N that Cl?I took an oath that I would do my
  • G4?Prep N?Major earthquakes can be predicted
    months in advance.
  • G5?Adj Prep?We were hungry for more success.
  • G6?Adj to Inf?It is necessary to understand
    the nature of science.
  • G7?Adj that Cl?He was afraid that he might
    lose his job.

Classification of collocation
  • L1?V N?The computer software program can help
    young children compose music.
  • L2?Adj N?I can give you a rough estimate over
    the phone.
  • L4?N V? Our burglar alarm goes off
  • L5?N of N?He sent her a bouquet of flowers.
  • L6?Adv Adj?The good manager will be keenly
    aware of the needs of others.
  • L7 ?V Adv?Students vary considerably in their
    abilities to understand the second language.

Why do you make mis-collocations?
  • 1. L1 Interference The use of Chinese patterns
    or rules which leads to collocation errors in
    English writing.
  • ???/????? learn /study / grasp knowledge
  • ???????? raise English ability
  • Biochemists are making research into the causes
    of AIDS. (???)
  • Biochemists are doing research into the
    causes of AIDS.

Why do you make mis-collocations?
  • 2. Overgeneralization generalizing a particular
    linguistic item or rule in English beyond
    legitimate bounds.
  • commit a crime(??) ---commit a mistake(??)
  • The research result was extremely disappointing.
  • The research result was an extreme
  • extreme disappointment---great disappointment

Other common errors
  • V N
  • learn knowledge acquire/ broaden/
    increase/ extend/ gain/ improve knowledge (????)
  • kill problem attack/ combat/ deal with/
    ease/ grapple with/ overcome/ resolve/ solve/
    tackle problem (????)
  • make problem create/ cause problem (????)
  • raise (??)a question/ suggestion/ warning/
    an application/ ones resignation

Other common errors
  • A N
  • sour rain acid rain (??)
  • hearty greeting hearty welcomes(????)
  • thick tea strong tea (??)
  • toxic snake poisonous snake (??)
  • N N
  • job chance job opportunity (????)
  • N of N
  • cause of accident/ damage/ death/ trouble/
    failure/ anxiety/ success/ progress

  • Language consists of multi-word chunks. Language
    learning is raising students awareness of, and
    developing their ability to chunk language
  • This approach rejects the traditional
    Present-Practice-Produce paradigm, and replaces
    it by the Observe-Hypothesize-Experiment cyclical

  • Learning collocation is mostly a matter of
    noticing and recording, and students should be
    trained to be able to explore texts and select
    collocations which are crucial to their own
    writing needs.
  • Eventually, students are guided to internalize
    these prefabricated language collocations/chunks
    to write a complete piece of research article
    (autonomous learning/ independent learners).

Collecting collocations
  • Train yourself to observe collocations/ lexical
    phrases in reading and to use these expressions
    in writing.
  • Recording lexical items that allows you to see
    patterns of collocation.
  • Using grids that indicate different parts of
    speech (??), such as verbs, nouns, adjectives,

Recording collocations
Recording collocations
Specific lexical patterns for each section of RA
  • To classify lexical or sentence patterns based on
    different features required in each section of
    RA, such as introduction, method, results,
  • e.g. Fill in the following blanks to complete
    sentences often used in describing General
    Background Information in Introduction
  • In recent years there has been considerable
    interest in______________________.
  • Recently, there has been growing interest
  • The effect of ___________________ has been
    studied extensively in recent years.

General lexical patterns across all sections of RA
  • To classify lexical or sentence patterns based on
    their semantic meanings or logical relationships,
    such as cause and effect, comparison and
    contrast, differences and similarities,
    enumeration, definition, and others.
  • e.g. Fill in the following blanks to complete
    sentences with cause-effect patterns
  • All these _____ are attributable to __________.
  • ______ will be due to a large extent to ______.
  • The reasons for _______ could be _________.
  • ________ is partially a result of ____________.

Paragraphs of RA
  • e.g. Fill in the following blanks to complete
    the paragraph often used to describe the purpose
    of the study
  • In light of these concerns, this paper has three
    purposes (a) to provide _________ (b) to report
    on trends in_____________ and (c) to

Paragraphs of RA
  • Defining an academic term
  • Before I proceed with my discussion on second
    language acquisition, I need to define an
    important concept, affective domain. Affective
    domain refers to the feelings that everyone
    experiences. It is often contrasted with the
    cognitive domain, which deals with our analytical
    abilities. An example of a personality factor
    that falls within the affective domain is the
    idea of self-esteem. Your self-esteem has to do
    with your view of yourself.

Paragraphs of RA
  • Defining an academic term
  • Before I proceed with my discussion on ???? ,
    I need to define an important concept, ??????? .
    ???????refers to ????????? . It is often
    contrasted with ??????????????, which deals with
    ????????? . An example of________ that falls
    within ??????? is the idea of ????????? .
    ?????????has to do with ?????.

Academic writing conventions
  • Academic writing conventions are fairly
    consistent across a wide variety of disciplines
    (Weissberg Buker, 1990).
  • A typical organizational pattern for research
    paper the IMRD format or some variant of it
    (Swales Feak, 1994)
  • A common structure and ordering of information
    contained in each section of RA are already
    identified by researchers.

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  • Serves as an orientation for readers of the
    paper, giving them the nature and scope of the
    problem investigated.
  • 1.1 General Background Information
  • 1.2 Literature Review
  • 1.3 Establishing a Niche
  • 1.4 Research Purpose
  • 1.5 Research Questions
  • 1.6 Value of Research

1.1 Background information
  • 1. General statements about your area of research
  • In the past 25 years the science and
    technology for the creation and use of ultrashort
    laser pulses have progressed tremendously.
  • 2. Identify your topic within the general area
  • With the increasing usage of mixed-signal
    integration, reliability requirements for analog
    MOS circuit application have become more critical.

1.2 Literature review
  • Citation Commentary
  • (1) information prominent citation
  • 1. Numerous studies stress that listening is
    fundamental for language acquisition (Dunkel,
    1991 Long, 1985).
  • 2. Various approaches to face detection are
    discussed in 11, 24, 45.
  • (2) author prominent citation
  • Damasio (1994) has pointed out that
    emotions greatly influence how the brains
    cognitive functions operate.

1.3 Research niche
  • Pointing out a gap (inadequate area, unresolved
    conflict, extension of a previous topic) not
    investigated by other researchers.
  • A fairly large body of literature exists on
    the teaching of writing. However, within that
    literature, there is a surprising lack of
    information on cooperative efforts between
    faculty members.

1.4 Research purpose
  • (1) Purposive
  • The purpose of this study was to
    investigate the effects of integrative motivation
    on the learning of vocabulary.
  • (2) Descriptive
  • In this paper we present the use of fuzzy
    logic as a postprocessing method to improve the
    results in correlation applications.

1.5 Research questions
  • Open-ended What is the distribution and status
    of monkeys in Taiwan?
  • Closed Is Prozac a good way to treat clinical
    depression in certain cases?
  • Statement Two issues that need to be resolved in
    this regard are (a) whether we can assess the
    specific characteristics of a given group of test
    takers, and (b) whether we can incorporate such
    information into the way we design language

1.6 Research value
  • May be written from the point of view of the
    practical benefits or theoretical importance of
    your study
  • It is hoped that the system described here
    could serve as the basis for a study of automatic
    measurement systems.

  • Describes the steps you followed in conducting
    your study and the materials you used at each
  • 2.1 Research Design
  • 2.2 Subjects/ Materials
  • 2.3 Data Collection Procedure
  • 2.4 Data Analysis 

2.1 Research design
  • Identify the specific method you used to conduct
    the research.
  • The method to carry out this study was
    using a survey, which included questions and
    statements to which the participants were
    expected to respond anonymously.

2.2 Subjects/ materials
  • Identify any criteria you used to select
    subjects, materials, or instruments to conduct
    the research.
  • 1. Subjects were recruited through posted
    sign-up sheets, letters, and by word of mouth.
  • 2. In this experiment, we constructed a test bed
    that consists of a dual arm and a real-time
    stereo system.

2.3 Data collection process
  • The passive voice and past tense are
    conventionally used to describe research
    procedure in order to depersonalize the
  • The data collection sessions each lasted
    about one hour and were conducted at roughly
    two-week intervals.

2.4 Data analysis
  • The passive voice and past tense are
    conventionally used to describe how data were
  • The analysis used the SPSS statistical
    software package. First, descriptive statistics
    were computed. Next, reliability as a measure of
    internal consistency was calculated.

  • Presents the findings of your study and briefly
    comment on them, reserving more extensive
    comments on the next chapter/ section Discussion.
    (Some may call this section Results and
  • 3.1 Research Findings
  • 3.2 Graphics/ Locations of Results

3.1 Research findings
  • Statements that present the most important
    findings. Other supporting or detailed
    information could be put in Appendix.
  • The results suggested that high achievers
    on the average (M2.36, SD.39) used a slightly
    less learning strategies than those in the low
    achiever group (M2.37, SD.41).

3.2 Graphics of results
  • Locational statements can be written in either
    the active or passive voice, and the present
    tense is used to locate your data in a figure.
  • 1. Tables 12 and 13 present fusion experiments.
  • 2. A picture of the experimental setup is
    depicted in Fig. 7.

  • Step back and take a broad look at your study as
    a whole. Move the reader from the specific
    information reported in the Results to a more
    general view of how the findings should be
  • 4.1 Review of Research Findings
  • 4.2 Implications/Applications of the Study
  • 4.3 Limitations of the Study
  • 4.4 Recommendations for Future Research

4.1 Review of findings
  • 1. To give a possible explanation for the
  • Hedging toning down the statements to reduce the
    risk of your claim by using
  • (1) modal auxiliary may, might, would
  • (2) Adv./ Adj. probably, possibly, perhaps,
    possible, probable
  • (3) V suggest, seem, appear, believe What
    factors have led to the overwhelming popularity
    of the PC? Probably the major reason for its
    success is the fact that it is easy to operate.

4.1 Review of findings
  • 2. Comparing your results with those of other
  • Use the present tense
  • These results are entirely consistent with
    those reported for hyperactive children on
    stimulant medication in previous studies.

4.2 Implications of research
  • Move the readers attention away from the
    specific results of your study and to focus more
    generally on the importance that the study may
    have for the field
  • These findings lead us to believe that more
    difficult materials should be used in order to
    design the novel interleavers.

4.3 Limitations of research
  • Refers to restrictions in the study over which
    you have no control.
  • Although the present study has yielded
    findings that have both theoretical and practical
    implications, its design is not without flaws/
    problems/ limitations/ shortcomings.

4.4 Recommendations for future research
  • To make recommendations for other researchers to
    do in the future
  • An important area for future research in the
    years to come will be in the refinement of
    approaches to the analysis of the copper
    microstructure .

  • A display of necessary politeness. To show how
    you have benefited from members of an academic
  • Financial Support Support for this work was
    provided by the National Science Council.
  • Thanks The author wishes to thank A for his
    encouragement and guidance throughout this
  • Disclaimers However, any mistakes that remain
    are my own.

Computer-assisted learning
  • TANGO ???http//
  • TOTALrecall ?????http//
  • NTNU???(concordancer)????(collocation)??http//140
  • Web Concordancer ?????http//
  • NCTU?????? http//

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Advantages of collocation approach
  • Students can keep language in the largest
    possible context of frame. They are more likely
    to store larger chunks and will make fewer
    mistakes when re-using the language themselves.
  • It can serve as a useful guide for students to
    get involved in the writing process and develop
    their skills and autonomy in writing research

  • Your are encouraged to find out what the writing
    conventions of your own fields are.
  • You and your classmates can jointly build a
    corpus consisting of collocations, sentence
    patterns, and model paragraphs in the same
  • You should keep language in the largest possible
    context or frame. The larger the frame, the more
    useful information, including grammatical
    collections, is likely to be retained.

  • You can develop your knowledge of collocations
    independently, where technology has made
    electronic texts available to you through CD-ROM
    and the Internet.
  • Teachers should provide strategies to assist
    students to write for academic purpose, and the
    use of lexical approach may serve as an effective
    alternative to facilitate students academic

Thank you for your attention Q A