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Short- and long-term effects of rote rehearsal on ESL learners’ processing of L2 collocations

Szudarski, Pawel; Conklin, Kathy

Short- and long-term effects of rote rehearsal on ESL learners’ processing of L2 collocations Thumbnail


Professor of Psycholinguistics


Worldwide there is thought to be around 750 million people who speak English as a foreign language (Crystal, 2003, p. 69). For these speakers the difference between make a picture and take a picture may seem arbitrary. However, use of the former is likely to influence how their second language (L2) performance is perceived (Boers, Eyckmans, Kappel, Stengers, & Demecheleer, 2006). Consequently, L2 speakers' use of collocations (“fixed, identifiable, non-idiomatic phrases and constructions”; Benson, Benson, & Ilson, 1997, p. xv) and other formulaic sequences is an important aspect of L2 competence (Wray, 2002).

Several factors appear to influence the acquisition and use of L2 collocations. One of them is L1–L2 collocational congruency. Research has demonstrated that word-for-word translation equivalents (congruent collocations) are processed more efficiently than incongruent collocations (Wolter & Gyllstad, 2011; Yamashita & Jiang, 2010). Moreover, research has demonstrated that collocational frequency, and the frequency of formulaic sequences more generally, influences processing, with more frequent combinations being processed more quickly (Siyanova-Chanturia, Conklin, & van Heuven, 2011; Wolter & Gyllstad, 2013).

Researchers have also explored the role of different L2 input conditions on the processing of collocations. Sonbul and Schmitt (2013) compared the effects of three treatments (enriched, enhanced, and decontextualized input) on the collocational competence of learners of English as a second language (ESL). For explicit knowledge, they observed an improvement in both receptive and productive tests for all treatment conditions, but for implicit knowledge no gains were found. Peters (2012) examined L2-German learners' acquisition of words and formulaic sequences as dependent on an instructional method (directing learners' attention through instructions) and input enhancement (bolding and underlining). In a form recall test, input enhancement led to gains in learners' knowledge, whereas the instructional method did not seem to affect their results.

The present study brings together a number of questions that have been prominent in the literature by examining the short- and long-term effects of two different input conditions on ESL learners' processing of L2 collocations, as well as exploring the influence of frequency and collocational congruency.


Szudarski, P., & Conklin, K. (2014). Short- and long-term effects of rote rehearsal on ESL learners’ processing of L2 collocations. TESOL Quarterly, 48(4),

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jan 1, 2014
Deposit Date Mar 16, 2015
Publicly Available Date Mar 16, 2015
Journal TESOL Quarterly
Print ISSN 0039-8322
Electronic ISSN 1545-7249
Publisher TESOL
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 48
Issue 4
Public URL
Publisher URL


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