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So you want to be a teacher? A discussion and explanation of collocations and practical suggestions for teaching them. How can I help my students with collocations? Advanced students need to be aware of the importance of collocation.
I would argue that students at every level need to be aware of the importance of collocation, as I believe collocation can be used not only to help learners understand and manage lexis but also to communicate ideas more effectively. For example, one of my learners recently asked the difference in meaning between glance and glimpse. It was immediately clear to me how helpful it was to use collocation to highlight the differences between the two verbs. I feel that it is very useful to teach learners those collocations with a noun as a key word. Nouns are also important because they are usually the words that carry the most meaning within a sentence. This puts a greater pressure on the teacher when making the decision about whether to spend time on a particular collocation.
With the second two verbs in this example, the unpredictability of the combination is also a factor. Moreover, this would be a difficult collocation for learners to work out just by knowing the meaning of the individual parts, so would therefore merit some class time. What problems do learners have with collocation, and how can we help? A major stumbling block to most learners is the fact that there are so many possible collocations and that the choice of which word to collocate with, say, a noun is completely arbitrary. Well, why is it have a coffee not drink a coffee?
If students are encouraged to record collocations as they occur, they have a permanent record of which combinations are possible. There are various ways for learners to record new collocations in their vocabulary notebooks. Organisation is really a matter for individual learners, though, as it should be done according to personal preference to minimise the learning burden. Bahns argues that because of this untranslatability teachers should focus on collocations which can not be translated directly, pointing out contrasts to students instead of similarities. If we substitute the asterisked words for miraculously, have, made, talking and reason, these utterances become more natural and nativelike.