An integrated approach to phraseology: Word combinations in EFL learner writing


Researcher: Dr. Magali Paquot

Phraseology is an essential component of fluent and idiomatic language use and plays an important role in foreign language acquisition.

Two major linguistic approaches to the study of phraseology or formulaic language can be distinguished. The traditional approach focuses on a specific subset of semantically non-compositional multi-word units that typically consists of restricted collocations, figurative and pure idioms. The frequency-based approach, on the other hand, is interested in all types of word combinations that have a statistical tendency to co-occur in text corpora. There is clearly an overlap between the two perspectives but recent research has failed to integrate them into a sound theoretical, methodological and analytical framework.

The main objective of the project is to develop an integrated approach to the study of phraseology in foreign language writing that is grounded in both the traditional and frequency-based perspectives on word combinations.

The project will address three fundamental questions about the learner phrasicon that are still largely unresolved in the literature:

  1. How does the learner phrasicon develop over time?
  2. How do specific learner characteristics and task variables influence the learner phrasicon?
  3. Are there differences in the phrasicon of EFL advanced learners and English native-speaker students?