Increasing learners collocational knowledge the effectiveness of an online learning platform


Başal A. , Toraman M. , Celen K. M.

III International Eurasian Educational Research Congress (EJERCongress 2016), Muğla, Turkey, 31 May - 03 June 2016, pp.2006-2007

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Summary Text
  • City: Muğla
  • Country: Turkey
  • Page Numbers: pp.2006-2007

Abstract

In learning a foreign language, the prime importance is given to fluency in the target language. Fluency is directly related with the vocabulary knowledge of the language learners. Vocabulary learning and teaching is therefore an undoubtedly essential part of language learning and teaching processes and “there has been constant effort in search of the best technique to teach vocabulary” (Basal et al., 2016, p.47). Along with the developments in technology, its use is commonly witnessed in language education (Glonka et al., 2014) including vocabulary teaching. These remarkable technological developments lead to significant changes in teaching and learning processes (Pavlik, 2015) and experts in the field of foreign language teaching increasingly realize the opportunities offered by the emerging technologies. As an important part of vocabulary knowledge, collocations which can be described as “the habitual association of a word in a language with other particular words in sentences” (Robins, 2000, p. 64), and is essential for becoming fluent in the target language (Wu, Franken, & Witten, 2010), should be the main focus of language instruction since research has consistently shown that foreign language learners lack of collocational knowledge and experience considerable difficulties while producing collocations (eg: Bahns & Eldaw ,1993; Farghal & Obiedat,1995). Despite their utmost importance, “few have actually proposed how to accomplish… [to increase collocational knowledge]” (Gatbonton & Segalowitz, 2005, p. 342). Chan and Liou (2005) state that ‘traditionally, collocation instruction was mostly conducted in a classroom-based context where teachers took full responsibility’ (p. 233), which may be ineffective way of teaching collocations since ‘collocations can partly be learnt in approximately similar ways to simple lexemes’ (Nesselhauf & Tschichold, 2002, p. 252). In this context, this study set out to test the effectiveness of a novel approach to teach collocations to the learners of English as a foreign language. More precisely, the current study aims to investigate the effectiveness of collocation teaching with an online collocation learning system. To this end, a new online platform for learning collocations (COLP-www.studycollocation.com) was developed to teach adjective collocations of 50 nouns from the Academic Word List (Coxhead, 2000) and tested for its effectiveness on the collocation learning. This pretest-posttest quasi-experimental 5-week long study aimed to investigate the effectiveness of online collocation learning platform (COLP) on teaching adjective noun collocations. The research question guided the study was: Are the activities with COLP more effective than traditional activities in teaching adjective-noun collocations? Seventy seven first-year students from an English Language Teaching Department of a state university in Turkey determined with convenience sampling formed the participants of the study. The language proficiency levels of the participants could be accepted as upper intermediate based on their Foreign Language Exam (YDS) scores. The study was carried out in a in the spring semester of the academic year 2015-2016 in a compulsory course called as Advanced Reading and Writing II whose aim was to increase the vocabulary knowledge of the students in addition to improve their reading and writing skills. The participants were divided into control (n=33) and experimental group (n=44). Traditional activities were used in the control group and COLP in the experimental group. The researchers guided the activities in both groups. Fifty nouns randomly selected from the Academic Word List (AWL) constructed by Coxhead (2000) and their adjective collocations were used in the study. A 50-item achievement test developed by the researchers was employed as the pre and post-test to determine whether differences between the two groups were statistically significant. Based on the pretest result of the both groups at the start of the study, which tested their knowledge of adjective-noun collocations, no significant difference was found, indicating that their level was similar on the target collocations. Following the pretest, the participants in the control group learned collocations through the use of traditional activities whereas the experimental group with COLP for five weeks. At the end of the study, the post test was employed. Based on the post-test results, it was seen that the results of both groups increased their collocational knowledge significantly. However, when the post-test results of the groups compared, the participants in the experimental group performed significantly better than the control group, indicating the effectiveness of COLP in learning collocations over traditional activities. Acknowledgement: This research has been supported by Yıldız Technical University Scientific Research Projects Coordination Department. Project Number: 2015-09-02-KAP02