Dukali, Aisha Ali (2016) Difficulties Encountered by Libyan University Students of English as a Foreign Language in the Use of Lexical Collocations. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

The main goal of this research is to investigate the difficulties Libyan undergraduate university English major students have in the use of verb-noun and adjective-noun collocations by looking at their performance in free production.Twelve verbs and twelve adjectives were investigated in depth with the aim of determining their collocational patterns when used by Libyan learners. Having done this, I also investigate whether there is a significant difference between native speaker ratings of English language learner collocations in academic as opposed to non–academic contexts.

To achieve the main aim, a 250-word academic writing task was used to collect data from 186 fourth-year university students (90 males and 96 females) at Tripoli University (the Department of English, Faculty of Arts). The data was analysed using AntConc 3.2.1w (Anthony, 2007). After extracting the learners‟ collocations, four sources were used to determine and judge their acceptability in terms of conforming to native-like use. They are: (1) the Oxford Collocations Dictionary (2009), (2) the online British National Corpus (BNC), (3) consultations with two native speakers, and (4) a survey to triangulate the above three methods. Gass and Selinker's (2008) error analysis framework is adopted as the basis for analyzing the learners' collocational violations. In addition, quantitative and qualitative methods were used to analyse the data. For example, the writing task data was analysed quantitatively in order to identify the frequency of learners' acceptable collocations, erroneous collocations and collocational errors, and qualitatively to identify various types of collocational errors and to determine the sources of learners' difficulty in producing collocations.

In addition, a two-version acceptability survey (i.e. academic rating and non-academic rating) was administered to 100 native speakers of English in order to achieve the secondary aim. Furthermore, a student questionnaire and a lecturer questionnaire were used as a supportive method to explore collocation as a linguistic phenomenon from the learning and teaching perspectives. The participants were 155 students and 12 university lecturers. The results from the questionnaires are useful as they potentially suggest reasons why Libyan students have difficulty with collocations. In addition, they contribute to our understanding of how lecturers and students think collocations are taught and learned in the Libyan educational system.

Findings from the academic writing data reveal that: (1) verb-noun collocations were more difficult for the participants than adjective-noun collocations; (2) independent samples t-test results showed that the participants' use of the twelve adjectives in the adjective-noun collocations showed significantly more accuracy level compared to their use of the twelve verbs in the verb-noun collocations. Therefore, the statistical investigations confirm that verb-noun collocations posed more difficulties for the participants than adjective-noun collocations.; (3) three broad categories of errors were identified in the erroneously produced verb-noun and adjective-noun collocations in the Libyan Learner Corpus (LLC): (i) grammatical errors, (ii) lexical errors and (iii) errors related to usage; and (4) eight main types of sources of difficulties are suggested, such as L1 interference – the negative influence of the mother tongue - and the use of synonymy. The results of the survey data reveal that there were significant differences in the native speakers‟ judgments in the academic rating survey and the non-academic rating survey.

Finally, on the basis of these results, several recommendations are made in order to improve the teaching of collocations in EFL classes in the light of the obtained results.

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