Mekenzie Powell

Mekenzie Powell

The Development of Prepositional Collocations in Learner English


Mekenzie Powell


Dr. James Garner


College of Liberal Arts and Sciences


<P> Multiple learner corpus studies have revealed the importance of L2 learners acquiring productive knowledge of collocations in order to sound more native-like and develop quicker and easier processing and production of English (Ebling & Hasselgard, 2015). This study examines the development of noun-preposition and adjective-preposition collocations (e.g. angry at, interested in, influence on, amount of) use across beginning and intermediate levels of L2 English. <P> The data for this study comes from the Yonsei English Learner Corpus (YELC; Rhee & Jung, 2014) and consists of 1,350 essays (351,762 words) written by L1 Korean learners of English across three proficiency levels (high-beginner, low-intermediate, high-intermediate). Noun + preposition and adjective + preposition combinations that contain one of the top 10 most frequent prepositions (e.g. at, on, with, to) that commonly occur with nouns and adjectives were extracted from the texts. All combinations were then filtered using information from the Collins Grammar Pattern Database (Collins, 1996) and frequency information from the Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA; Davies, 2009), a large corpus of native speech and writing. Finally, token and type frequencies for both categories of each combination were calculated for each subcorpus and then compared in order to examine changes in collocation use across proficiency levels. <P> Overall, results showed that, as proficiency increased, learners produced more prepositional collocations, although they used a smaller variety. These findings have implications for how these types of collocations could be introduced in the ESL writing classroom.


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