Collocation In The English Language

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A collocation is a combination of two or more words that are commonly used together in English. The concept collocation is from the Latin, meaning “place together.” The linguistic sense of this term was first used by J.R. Firth, a British linguist whose famous quotation was, “You shall know a word by the company it keeps.”(1957). Collocation is an indispensable element of any English text and also one of the most important devices that contribute to any well-organized writing. Ellis (1997) referred to “transfer”, as “the influence that the learner’s L1 exerts over the acquisition of an L2”. He stated that, “Language transfer, also known as L1 interference, linguistic interference, and cross meaning, refers to speakers or writers applying knowledge from their native language to a second language.” (Ellis 1997). Chinese ESL learners tend to be influenced by their native language and make transfer errors in using collocations both in their English daily conversation and in English writing. In China today, learners are eager to know more about English language and its culture. English is only taught as a foreign language in schools; and outside the classroom, students communicate with other people mainly in Chinese. The environment to which Chinese ESL learners are exposed does not offer good opportunity for them to use English in real communication and to gain a good understanding of the target language. Accordingly, Chinese learners are likely to be strongly influenced by their mother tongue while learning English. Thus, L1 influence on Chinese learners’ English proficiency deserves a proper consideration and should be taken into account in English teaching. Literature Review A. Language Transfer Despite the relatively long history... ... middle of paper ... ...anslation task were successfully paraphrased by many students while others were rarely successfully paraphrased. The research project they conducted shows that the lower frequency of encounters with collocations in relation to their parts increases the tendency that knowledge gained through encounter might be forgotten and that knowledge of the consisting parts of a certain collocation was very likely to be greater than the knowledge of the collocation as a whole (Bahns & Eldaw, 1993). Much research was done previously by language experts to study on using collocations among second language learners. However, the study from the perspective of language transfer is still insufficient. Therefore, the study is an effort to explore language transfer influence on using collocations by analyzing the Chinese ESL learners’ performance on a phrase-acceptability judgment task.
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