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VIETNAM NATIONAL UNIVERSITY, HANOI


UNIVERSITY OF LANGUAGES AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES
FACULTY OF ENGLISH LANGUAGE TEACHER EDUCATION

SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH

TOPIC: SOME COMMON COLLOCATION


MISTAKES AMONG SECOND-YEAR STUDENTS

Student : Duong Thi Diu


Lai Thi Hien
Supervisor: Ms. Dang Thu Trang
Group : QH08.E13

March 2010
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ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

In this research, we would like to thank our supervisor, Ms. Dang Thu Trang for her
enthusiastic help and guidance. The present study would not have been possible
without her assistance.

In addition, we would like to send our special thanks to the lecturers who participated
in our interview. Their contribution played an important role in our result.

Finally, we are also thankful to our friends in group QH08.E13 who gave us so many
useful suggestions in carrying out this research paper.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
Table of Contents i

Abstract iii

CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION

1.1. The rationale for the study 1

1.2. Aims and objectives of the study 2

1.3. Scope of the study 2

1.4. Methods of the study 2

1.4.1. Data collection method 2

1.4.2. Data analysis method 3

1.5. An overview of the rest of the paper 3

CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW

2.1. Collocation 5

2.1.1. Definition of collocation 5

2.1.2. Classifications of collocation 6

2.1.2.1. In term of grammar 6


2.1.2.2. In term of the strength of collocation 6
2.1.2.2.1 Unique collocations 7
2.1.2.2.2. Strong collocations 7
2.1.2.2.3. Medium-strength collocations 7
2.1.2.2.4. Weak collocations 8
2.1.3. Characteristics of collocation 8
2.1.3.1 Collocation is arbitrary 9
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2.1.3.2 Collocation is language specific 9


2.1.3.3 Collocation is recurrent in context 9
2.1.4. The importance of collocation 10
2.2. Mistake 10
2.2.1. Definition of mistakes 10
2.2.2. The difference between mistake and error 11

CHAPTER 3: METHODOLOGY
3.1. Sampling 13
3.2. Data collection instruments 13
3.3. Data collection procedure 14
3.3.1. Portfolios collection 14
3.3.1. Interviewing 14
3.4. Data analysis 15

CHAPTER 4: RESULTS AND DISCUSSION 16


4.1. Research question 1: What are some common collocation mistakes in writing
among second-year students? 16
4.2. Research question 2: What are some solutions to avoid collocation mistakes
according to lecturers in ULIS, VNU? 21

CHAPTER 5: CONCLUSION 23

REFERENCES 25

APPENDICES 26
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Abstract
In writing skill, Vietnamese students often translate word-by-word from Vietnamese
into English. However, Vietnamese and English have different sets of vocabulary and
rules of grammar; therefore, their translation is not always correct. This is the reason
for the collocation mistakes. This research concentrate on finding out common
collocation mistakes in writing skill among second-year students in University of
Languages and International Studies, Vietnam National University, Hanoi. Then, some
solutions to avoid collocation mistakes suggested by writing skill lecturers, Group 2,
English Pedagogy, University of Languages and International Studies, Vietnam
National University, Hanoi were given. Twenty-five writing portfolios from class
QH.1.E13 were chosen as samples. In each portfolio, the researchers analyzed the
second draft of three first writing assignments. Besides, the researchers interviewed
three writing lecturers in Group 2. Once students realize and avoid collocation
mistakes, the researchers hope that their writing skill can be improved remarkably.
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CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION

1.1. Rationale for the study


Nowadays, as a result of economic cooperation among countries, human beings need to
have a common language to communicate with each other. English is chosen to be that
common language. In fact, it is now considered as the main language in many countries
all over the world, especially in developed countries. It is used in many fields such as
economics, politics, education and culture. It is English that becomes one of the most
necessary requirements for job not only in the world but also in Vietnam. As a result,
English has become the compulsory subject in all schools and universities in Vietnam.

Writing is one of the four compulsory skills in standardized tests such as IELTS, and
TOEFL. To develop writing skill, learners need to have profound knowledge of
vocabulary, structure and grammar.

In terms of vocabulary, collocation is an essential factor in writing because "It runs


through the whole of the English language. No piece of natural spoken or written in
English is totally free of collocation. For the students, choosing the right collocation
will make his speech and writing sound more natural, more native-speaker-like…
language that is collocationally rich is also more precise" (Runcie, M. Oxford
Collocation: p.7). However, learners usually find it difficult to realize and avoid some
common collocation mistakes, even students specializing in English. All of these
encourage researchers to conduct a study on: "Some common collocation mistakes
among second-year students". The authors hope that this study will help English
learners in general and the second-year students in ULIS, VNU in particular to improve
their use of collocation in writing.
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1.2. Aims and objectives of the study

This research aimed to introduce students and readers a thorough look on collation in
writing skill. Then the study was expected to show some common mistakes in
collocation that second-year students often make. Finally, some solutions were
suggested to help English learners reduce their collocation mistakes when they have to
deal with writing assignments. In brief, these objectives can be summarized into two
research questions:
1. What are some common collocation mistakes in writing among
second-year students?
2. What are some ways to avoid collocation mistakes according to
second-year teachers?

1.3. Scope of the study

As could be seen from the title of the study, this paper strongly emphasizes on common
collocation mistakes among second-year students at ULIS, VNU, but not all the aspects
of collocation. At the same time, the researchers also try to find solutions to avoid
mistakes and improve writing skill.

1.4. Methods of the study


1.4.1. Data collection method

The data collection methods involve portfolio analysis and structured interview. These
two methods were used during the process of data collection. Specifically, about
twenty-five portfolios of second-year students were collected to point out common
collocation mistakes. Then the researchers interviewed three second-year lecturers of
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writing skill in University Of Languages and International Studies- Vietnam National


University, Hanoi to find out specific solutions to the collocation problems.

1.4.2. Data analysis method

At the beginning, the collected portfolios are analyzed and all the collocation mistakes
were classified into fourteen types. The framework for analyzing was taken from
Oxford Collocation dictionary for students of English by Moira Runcie (p.9).

For the qualitative data taken in the interviews, the researchers ask the lecturers for
comments and suggestions about collocation. Then, this data is compared with the
results collected from portfolios.

1.5. An overview of the rest of the research


The rest of the research includes five chapters as follows:

Chapter 2 (Literature Review) provides the background of the study, including


definitions, classification, characteristics, the important of collocation and the key
concept of mistake.

Chapter 3 (Methodology) involves the sampling including lecturers and portfolios, as


well as the procedure used during the research.

Chapter 4 (Results and discussion) presents, analyzes and discusses the results that the
researchers found out from the data collected.
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Chapter 5 (Conclusion) summarizes the main issues discussed in the research.


Following this chapter are the References and Appendices.

Summary

In this chapter, the researchers have presented the following points

1. The rationale for the study

2. Aims and objectives of the study

3. Scope of the study for the rest of the paper.

4. Method of the study

5. An overview of the rest of the paper


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CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW

2.1. Collocation
2.1.1. Definition of collocation

Collocation is a familiar term with English learners. In Oxford Collocation, collocation


is the way words combine in a language to produce natural sounding speech and
writing. Similarly, from Wikipedia, collocation is defined as a sequence of words or
terms which co-occur more often than would be expected by chance. Chitra Fernando
[1996: 62] added some other features that collocation refers to the restrictions on how
words can be used together, for example which prepositions are used with particular
verbs or which verbs and nouns are used together. Holding the same ideas, Fernado in
"Idioms and Idiomacity "(1996) regarded collocation as "The company words keep''. In
Kjellmer's words [1994: XIV], collocation is '' such recurring sequences of items as are
grammatically well formed''. In addition, Kathleen R. Mc Keown and Dragomir R.
Radev in their paper on ''Collocation'' define collocation as word pairs and phrases that
are commonly used in language with no general syntactic or semantic rules applied.

Besides, collocation is also defined through its functions. According to Mitchell [1971:
65], collocation is to be studies within grammatical matrices which in turn depend on
their recognition on the observation of collocation similarities.

In conclusion, collocation can be defined in different ways by linguists. All definitions


above consider collocation as collections of words being used together. Generally
speaking, the definition in Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary that collocation is ''
A combination of words in a language that happens very often and more frequently
than would happen by chance'' is the most comprehensive.
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2.1.2. Classification of collocations


There are two main ways to classify collocations into groups in terms of grammar and
the strength of collocation.
2.1.2.1. In terms of grammar

According to “Oxford Collocation Dictionary for students of English learner” (2002),


collocation is divided into fourteen different groups.
1. Adjective + Noun (bright/ harsh/ intense/ strong light)
2. Quantifier + Noun (a beam/ ray of light)
3. Verb + Noun (cast/ emit/ give/ provide light)
4. Noun + Verb (light gleams/ glows/ shines)
5. Noun + Noun (a light source)
6. Preposition + Noun (by the light of the moon)
7. Noun + Preposition (the light from the window)
8. Adverb + Verb (choose carefully)
9. Verb + Verb (be free to choose)
10. Verb + Preposition (choose between two things)
11. Verb + Adjective (make/ keep/ declare sth safe)
12. Adverb + Adjective (perfectly/ not entirely/ environmentally safe)
13. Adjective + Preposition (safe from attack)
14. Adjective + Verb + Adjective + Noun + Preposition + Noun (seriously affect
the political situation)

2.1.2.2. In terms of the strength of collocation


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According to “Oxford Collocation Dictionary for students of English learner” (2002),


there are four main types of collocation basing on its strength: unique collocations,
strong collocations, medium-strength collocations and weak collocations.

2.1.2.2.1 Unique collocations

This is a kind of collocation which people usually think that it does not exist. For
example, the uniqueness of the word “foot” is that it is used as a verb in the collocation
“foot the bill”. At the same time, there are some phrases we do not know about this
word such as “footing the coffee”, “footing the invoice”. It is unique because it is not
used with any other nouns.

2.1.2.2.2. Strong collocations

Besides some unique collocations, a large number of collocations are strong or very
strong ones in which any knowledge of words can be incomplete without some ideas of
their strong collocates. In ''English Collocation in Use- Advance'' (2008), a strong
collocation is one in which the words are very closely associated with each other. For
example, the adjective ''mitigating'' almost always collocates with ''circumstance'' or
''factor''; it rarely collocates with any other words.

2.1.2.2.3. Medium-strength collocations

This kind of collocation makes up the greater part of what people say and write. For
example, in some cases, people often think of “have a conversation”, but it is true that
“make a conversation”. Besides, there are many phrases which are considered as
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medium-strength collocations such as “make a mistake”, “recover from a major


operation” and so on.

2.1.2.2.4. Weak collocations

According to M. Michael in ''English Collocation in Use- Advance'' (2008), Weak


collocation is made up of words that collocate with a wide range of other words.
In fact, most students can create combinations of words which are on the verge of the
area we define as “collocation”. For example, with colors, people can apply them in
English in a similar way to their own language such as a red shirt, white wine, a blue
film, black hair and so on. In general, these combinations are entirely predictable to
most students and they do not pay more attention to them. However, in order to have a
perfect writing or essay, it is important to understand and concern about all aspects of
weak collocations.

Between two ways mentioned, the way in Oxford Collocation Dictionary for students
of English learner” (2002) is more convenient to classify common collocation
mistakes. In fact, this way is also mentioned in detail in ''English Collocation in Use-
Advance'' (2008).

2.1.3. Characteristics of collocation

According to the article “Collocation” from website


http://depts.washington.edu/cidrweb/ITAPAWfluency4.html#COLLOCATION, there
are three characteristics of collocation.
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2.1.3.1 Collocation is arbitrary

Collocation is often regarded as arbitrary. Smadia (1989) says “Many wording choices
in English sentences cannot be accounted for on semantic of synthetic grounds; they
can only be expressed in terms of relations between words that usually occur together”
(p163). In fact, there is no rule or particular reasons for words when they are combined
with each other.
For example: "fast food", not "quick food"
"quick meal", not " fast meal"
As a result, people make the correct collocation based on lifetime’s experience of
hearing and reading the words in set combination.

2.1.3.2 Collocation is language specific

Each language has own way and convention to combine words. Therefore collocation
is difficult to translate across language. For example: “eat dinner” in Vietnamese must
be “have dinner” in English.
In another words, collocation's ability to combine with another is restricted by
linguistic conventions.

2.1.3.3 Collocation is recurrent in context

Another characteristic of collocation is that its combinations are very often repeated in
a given context.
For example: “to do a crossword",” to make a mistake" are typical of the language.
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2.1.4. The importance of collocation

As a matter of fact, human’s brains have a tendency to store language in chunks rather
than individual words. Besides, it is more efficient and easy for people to remember
and use phrases as chunks. It is a good way to save a lot of time and effort when people
are trying to express our thoughts and emotions. Secondly, collocation also makes our
speech and writing become more natural and attractive because at a time, it is not easy
for people to think of the meanings and uses of a difficult word. In these cases,
collocations get their best effectiveness. Thanks to them, writers do not have to
consider about the uses of confusing words. In contrast, they are easy to write what
they think and what they want. The last reason that proves the importance of
collocation is that learning collocation lead to an increase in written. Learners can use
more phrases in a right way and improve their knowledge of vocabulary and
collocation. All of these reasons above make collocations become more important and
necessary for English learners.

2.2. Mistake
2.2.1. Definition of mistakes

According to “Oxford Student’s Dictionary of English”, “Mistake is something that


you think or do that is wrong”. In “What’s the difference between ‘to make an error”
and “to make a mistake” from http://www.english-test.net/forum/ftopic18958.html,
Mister Micawber wrote “Mistake implies misconception, misunderstanding, a wrong
but not always blameworthy judgments, or inadvertence; it expresses less severe
criticism than error”.
In the article “mistake’ from
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http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/mistake.html, mistake is something that


does not work out in search for a solution. Often used interchangeably with error.
Although mistake can be defined in some different ways, all of them tell about
something the writer think or do incorrectly. May be the most obvious definition is in
Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary:'' Mistake is an action, decision or judgment
which produce an unwanted or unintentional result ''. Therefore, it is considered as the
basic definition for the whole research.

2.2.2. The difference between mistake and error

According to Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary, error is something people did


that was wrong. In general, mistake and collocation share the same meanings.
However, also according to Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary, error is slightly
more formal than mistake. Besides, people use mistakes when the mistake does not
often happen; error is used for mistake happen frequently. According to Mr. Webster in
the article “What’s the difference between ‘to make an error” and “to make a
mistake””:
“Error etymologically implies deviation; it suggests culpability but not necessarily
carelessness or intention, for it implies a guide to be followed such as a record or
manuscript, or a rule or set of rules, or a principle, law, accepted code, or the like.

Mistake implies misconception, misunderstanding, a wrong but not always blameworthy


judgments, or inadvertence; it expresses less severe criticism than error''.

Therefore, when people do something wrongly unusually, people call it mistake.

Meanwhile, learners do not combine words incorrectly as often as grammar,


vocabulary or structure. That is the reason why the name of this research is “common
collocation mistakes...” and it only focuses on collocation mistakes. In fact, there have
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been some studies related to collocation in ULIS, VNU, namely “Collocation of hard
and happy in English” and “The collocation of some groups of synonyms and some
problems faced by Vietnamese learners”. However, they focused on others areas such
as synonyms, collocation of ‘hard” and “happy” in English.
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CHAPTER 3: METHODOLOGY

3.1. Sampling
As the subject of the research was to find collocation mistakes among second-year
students, twenty-five writing portfolios from classes QH.1.E13 were chosen as
samples. In each portfolio, the researchers analyzed the second draft of three first
writing assignments. For such a limited scope, this number was considered suitable.

In addition, the research was carried out with the participation of three second-year
teachers of writing from Universities of Languages and International Studies, Vietnam
National University, Hanoi. They were chosen for some following reasons. The first
one was that they all taught second-year students; therefore, they knew exactly their
weak and strong points about collocation. Besides, lecturers were of advanced levels,
so their acquired knowledge of English was deep enough to give useful solutions to
students to avoid collocation mistakes. The researchers did not have questionnaire to
investigate the students' solutions because the English level of second-year students is
not high enough to do this.

In short, with the experience of the lecturers, the researchers would receive the most
specific advices to make the study become more clear and accurate.

3.2. Data collection instruments

In order to answer all the above research questions, some portfolios were collected
with the help of the teacher who was in charge of E13’s writing skill. This was an
effective way in identifying common mistakes or problems of students.
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In addition, a structured interview was also prepared for the data collection for. This
interview consisted of five questions delivering to CFL teachers from Division 2 in
order to get the most reliable and useful data. The questions were asked in Vietnamese
so that the answers would be more understandable. Two teachers were asked directly
and the third teacher answered via email. Then, all of them were translated into English
fully and clearly.

3.3. Data collection procedure


The procedure of data collection could be divided into two main steps.

3.3.1. Portfolios collection

In order to have twenty-five writing portfolios of class QH08.E13, the researchers


asked the teacher who was in charge of E13’s writing skill to borrow from this class.
All of these portfolios were coded randomly to make them anonymous. After that, they
were classified and analyzed in order to find out common mistakes which were
considered as collocation mistakes.

3.3.2. Interviewing

After interview questions were designed and piloted, the researchers contacted with
second-year lecturers of writing so that they could arrange suitable time to meet each
other. Then, in the interview, the researchers began with a brief self-introduction and
explanation of the format of the interview. During the interview, it was necessary for
the researchers to take notes some key points that the lecturers referred to. At the same
time, if necessary, the researchers would record the interview to get information as
much as possible. Finally, all the contents of the interview would be collected and
transcribed fully.
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3.4. Data analysis

After collected portfolios, the researchers would concentrate on analyzing, and


classifying student’s common collocation mistakes according to fourteen types of
collocation reviewed in chapter 2. The results were presented in forms of tables. At the
same time, the answers receiving from lecturers were also systematized in forms of
summary and direct quotations.
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CHAPTER 4: RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

This chapter will present and discuss the results the two research questions. The main
results come from the collected portfolios and the information provided by the
lecturers.

4.1. Research question 1: What are some common collocation mistakes in


writing among second-year students?

To find common collocation mistakes in writing among second-year students,


researchers analyze seventy five writing assignments in twenty five portfolios. The
following table shows the result of each portfolio’s mistakes.

Typ 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 Tot
e al
Po.
1 2 1 2 1 1 1 1 2 11
2 1 2 1 1 5
3 1 1 2
4 2 2 1 3 1 1 10
5 1 1 2 4
6 3 1 1 5
7 1 1 1 1 1 2 1 8
8 1 1 1 1 1 5
9 1 1 1 1 4
10 1 2 2
11 1 1 1 3
12 2 1 1 2 1 7
13 1 1 2 3 1 1 9
14 1 1 3 5
15 1 1 1 2 1 2 8
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16 1 1 1 3
17 1 2 1 1 5
18 1 1 2 4
19 1 1
20 1 1 1 3
21 1 1 2
22 2 3 1 1 7
23 1 1 2
24 1 2 3
25 0
T0. 19 1 14 8 11 19 15 2 2 20 2 1 5 0 119
% 16. 0.8 11. 6.7 8.4 16. 12. 1.6 1.6 16. 1.6 0.8 4.2 0 100
1 5 9 8 7 1 7 9 9 9 9 5 8

Table 1: The types of mistakes in each portfolio

Table 1 shows the proportion of fourteen types of collocation mistakes, which were
collected from twenty five portfolios with seventy five writing assignment of second-
year students. There are three highest proportion involving type 1 (Adjective + Noun,
16.1%), type 6 (Preposition + Noun, 16.1%), type 10 (Verb + Preposition, 16.9%). The
second highest group includes type 3 (Verb + Noun, 11.9%) and type 7 (Noun +
Preposition, 12.7%). The next group has type 4 (Noun + Verb, 6.78%) and type 5
(Noun + Noun, 8.47%). Type 13 (Adjective + Preposition) follows with 4.28%. The
final ones consist of five types, type 2 (Quantifier + Noun), type 12 (Adverb +
Adjective) with 0.85% and type 8 (Adverb + Verb), type 9 (Verb + Verb), type 11
(Verb + Adjective) with 1.69%.

According to the statistics above, second-year students' writings often have three most
popular types of collocation mistakes. It is displayed clearly through the table below.
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Types 1 6 10
Por
1 2 1 2
2 1
3
4 2 3
5 1
6 3 1
7 1 2
8 1 1
9 1
10 2
11
12 2 2
13 1 1
14 1 1
15 1 2 2
16 1
17 1 1 1
18 2
19 1
20 1 1
21 1 1
22 2 3 1
23 1
24 1 2
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Total 19 19 20
% 16.1 16.1 16.9
Table 2: The three highest proportion of mistakes in 25 portfolios.

From the table above, it is clarified that the most common mistake is the combination
of adjective and noun. For example, "dark intention" in portfolio 6 should be changed
into "practical intention" and "tender rice" in portfolio 22 should become "sticky rice".
Secondly, preposition and noun were also combined incorrectly such as "in the ceiling"
(P24), and "in the street" (P23). The correct form must be "on the ceiling" and
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"on the street". Thirdly, many students find it difficult to combine verb and preposition
correctly.
E.g: Contribute for (P4) ---> contribute to
Borrow in the library (P18) ---> borrow from the library
The next mistake were in type 3(Verb + Noun) and type 7 (Noun + Preposition).

Types 3 7
Por.
1 1 1
2 2
3 1
4 2 1
5 1
6
7 1
8 1 1
9 1 1
10
11
12 1 1
13 1 3
14 3
15 1
16
17 2
18 1 1
19
20 1
21
22
23
24
25
Total 14 15
% 11.9 12.7
Table 2: The second highest proportions of mistakes in 25 portfolios
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This was the second highest groups of mistakes the researchers found in twenty-five
collected portfolios. The following phrases were typical examples.
E.g. Make a test (P18) ---> do a test
Pay attention of (P18) ---> pay attention to

Besides, students did not make mistakes in type 14: adjective + verb + adjective +
noun + preposition + noun. That does not mean that students are good at this kind of
combination. The reason is that they can not combine at such a high level like that.

Moreover, according to the information collected from interviews, the lecturers


supposed that students often make mistakes in type 3 (Verb + Noun), (interview
transcript 2) , type 5 (Noun + Noun), (interview transcript 1), type 6 (Preposition +
Noun), (interview transcript 1), type 7 ( Noun + Preposition) (interview transcript
1+2), type 8 (Adverb + Verb) (interview transcript 3), type 9 (Verb + Verb)
(interview transcript 2). This result is quite similar to the result collected from
portfolios.

Also according to them, there are some reasons for collocation mistakes among
second-year students. Firstly, students are affected by mother tongue. It means they
translate word by word from Vietnamese into English. One of the examples is "gui no
cho toi"- "send it for me". In fact, it should be "send it to me" (Interview with teacher
2). Secondly, the limited vocabulary and uncertain collocation led to wrong
combination of words. Another example is the combination of adverb and the adjective
"wonderful". Students often write "very wonderful" instead of "absolutely wonderful"
(Interview with teacher 2, appendix page 32). The final reason is the carelessness in
writing, especially when students write under time pressure.
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4.2. Research question 2: What are some solutions to avoid collocation


mistakes according to lecturers in ULIS, VNU?

From the views of the lecturers, there are many ways to avoid collocation mistakes.
The following solutions are the most typical ones.

As for the teachers, they should help students to be more aware of collocation mistakes
and the ways to avoid them. In other words, teachers and students play an important
role in commenting writing assignments. It will be better if students' writings are
commented before class so that the problems are found and solved easily. In fact, the
lecturers interviewed focused mainly on suggesting students. Firstly, students should
spend much time on practicing reading and writing skills to improve their vocabulary
and grammar. It helps students not only to develop creative thinking in order to arrange
main points and supporting points suitably but to develop information in their writings
as well. Secondly, they need to arrange suitable time to finish each step:
brainstorming, outlining, especially revising and editing before handing in the
assignments. These steps can make the writing papers more fluent and accurate.
Thirdly, learning based on sentence structures and phrases is also an essential and
useful factor to avoid collocation mistakes. Especially, Students can learn the structures
and phrases in Google; if they type the structure or the phrase, there will be many
results involving the structure of native speakers. Finally, students should collect many
materials involving collocation as sources of reference. For example, collocation
dictionary is very necessary.

In short, after analyzing the data collected from portfolios and interviews, the answers
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to the two research questions were found. The researchers hope that second-year
students can be more aware of collocation mistakes so that they would avoid them in
writing skill.
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CHAPTER 5: CONCLUSION

In this research, the researchers gave general information about collocation, mistakes
and the importance of collocation in writing skill. More importantly, the common
collocation mistakes among second-year students were pointed out specifically and
clearly. The most common mistakes were the combination of adjective and noun,
preposition and noun, verb and preposition. The least ones were type 2 (Quantifier +
Noun), type 12 (Adverb + Adjective) with 0.85%. Besides, type 14 (adjective + verb +
adjective + noun + preposition + noun) was the type that students did not make
mistakes. In the mean time, the useful solutions were also provided to help students to
avoid basic collocation mistakes. They were reading much to enrich vocabulary,
learning based on structure and phrases and taking advantages of “Oxford Collocation
Dictionary”.

However, this research was only in a small scale. In fact, the researchers focused on
twenty-five portfolios from class QH08.E13. The data could not reflect the level of all
students in English Pedagogy Department. Besides, this research only concentrated on
common collocation mistakes. The researchers did not cover much about the untypical
mistakes. Finally, solutions given in this research can only help students realize and
avoid collocation mistakes in general, not in specific types of mistakes.

As a result of the limitations above, the researchers hope that the next researchers who
share the same interest in collocation should have larger scale with more participants
and writing assignments. In addition, collocation mistakes should be analyzed and
discussed more specifically. Especially, the solutions for each type of mistakes should
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be given. At the same time, the next researchers should also cover collocation mistakes
among students at different levels in ULIS, VNU, not only second-year students.

In short, the researchers hope that this research paper will be an useful material for
second-year students in particular and students in ULIS, VNU in general.
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REFERENCES

1. Hornby, A.S (2005). Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary. Oxford University


Press.
2. Runcie, M. (2002). Oxford Collocations dictionary for Students of English.
Oxford University Press.
3. Procter, P. (1996). Cambridge International Dictionary of English. Cambridge
University Press.
4. Jackson, H. (1994). Grammar and vocabulary: A resource book for students.
Rouledge publisher.
5. Fernando, C. (1996). Idioms and Idiomacity. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
6. Collocation. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collocation
7. Collocation. Retrieved from
http://www.englishclub.com/vocabulary/collocations.htm.
8. Beare, K. Collocation. Retrieved from
http://esl.about.com/od/grammarglossary/g/collocation.htm.
9. M. Michael (2008). English Collocation in Use Advanve. Cambridge University
Press.
10. Dao, N.N. (2007). Collocation of hard and happy in English. Graduation paper.
11. Nguyen, N.B. (2003). The collocation of some groups of synonyms and some
problems faced by Vietnamese learners. Graduation paper.
26

APPENDICES
Appendix 1: Interview scheme

1, Setting

Place and time

2, Personal information

- Gender

- Experience

3, Content

Main points:

 Lecturers' general view of collocation in writing


 Asking questions to compare collected data with lecturers' opinions
 Asking the reason why students have some common collocation mistakes
 Asking questions to get some solutions to avoid collocation mistakes
27

Appendix 2: Interview Transcript


Interview with Teacher 1
1, Setting

Place: In a teacher hall

Time: 14.30 p.m -15.00 p.m, 09/03/2010

2, Personal information

- Gender: Female

- Number of years teaching: 8

3, Content

Với kinh nghiệm của cô, xin cô cho biết nhận xét chung về vai trò của collocation trong việc
phát triển kĩ năng viết tiếng anh?

Theo mình thì vai trò của collocation là rất quan trọng

Trong quá trình dạy viết, cô thấy sinh viên có thường mắc lỗi collocation không ?

Có thể nói là thường xuyên

Theo cô, sinh viên thường mắc loại lỗi nào nhất trong các lỗi sau đây?
1. Adjective + Noun
2. Quantifier + Noun
3. Verb + Noun
4. Noun + Verb
5. Noun + Noun
6. Preposition + Noun
7. Noun + Preposition
8. Adverb + Verb
9. Verb + Verb
10. Verb + Preposition
11. Verb + Adjective
12. Adverb + Adjective
13. Adjective + Preposition
14. Adjective + Verb + Adjective + Noun + Preposition + Noun

Theo mình, sinh viên thường hay mắc lỗi Noun + Noun, Preposition + Noun, Noun +
Preposition, and Adverb + Adjective
28

Theo cô, có những nguyên nhân phổ biến nào khiến sinh viên thường mắc loại lỗi này?

Thường thì có hai nguyên nhân cơ bản là do sinh viên không cẩn thận hoặc không viết bài
theo các steps

Cô có thể đưa ra một số giải pháp để khắc phục các lỗi sai về collocation khi làm bài môn
viết?
- kiên trì và làm theo các bước được học
- luyện kĩ năng phân bố thời gian hợp lí với các bước. For exmple:brainstorming,
outline, editing
- lên kế hoạch học viết thao các mẫu câu
- đọc nhiều để phát triển về tư duy để có thể sắp xếp các mainpoínt and supporting point
một cách hợp lí. Thứ hai là để phát triển thông tin, từ đó mình có thể xây dựng những ý
tưởng về các ví dụ và số liệu trong các bài viết của mình
- chú trọng đến các bước revision và editing trước khi hoàn thành bài và nộp bài
29

Interview with Teacher 1


(Translation)
According to your experience, can you please remark the general role of collocation in
developing English writing skill?

In my opinion, collocation is very important in writing

In writing skill, do your students make collocation mistakes?

Very often.

In your opinion, what are the most typical collocation mistakes among these following types?
1. Adjective + Noun
2. Quantifier + Noun
3. Verb + Noun
4. Noun + Verb
5. Noun + Noun
6. Preposition + Noun
7. Noun + Preposition
8. Adverb + Verb
9. Verb + Verb
10. Verb + Preposition
11. Verb + Adjective
12. Adverb + Adjective
13. Adjective + Preposition
14. Adjective + Verb + Adjective + Noun + Preposition + Noun

Noun + Noun, Preposition + Noun, Noun + Preposition, and Adverb + Adjective

In your opinion, what are the typical reasons for collocation mistakes?

In my opinion, there are two main reasons. Students are not careful in writing and they don't
follow steps of writing.

Can you please give some suggestions to avoid collocation mistakes in writing?
-- be patient and follow correct steps.
-- practice the skill of arranging suitable time with steps. Such as: brainstorming,
outlining, and editing.
-- plan to study according to structures and phrases.
-- read much to develop the ability to arrange main points and supporting points suitably.
Reading much also help to improve information, build up ideas about example and data in
writing papers.
-- reread and revise carefully before handing in.
30

Appendix 2: Interview Transcript


Interview with Teacher 2

1, Setting

Place: In a classroom

Time: 16.30 – 17.00 p.m

2, Personal information

- Gender: Female

- Number of years teaching: 2.5

3, Content

Với kinh nghiệm của cô, xin cô cho biết nhận xét chung về vai trò của collocation trong việc
phát triển kĩ năng viết tiếng anh?

Rất quan trọng. Nó không chỉ giúp học sinh viết tốt hơn mà còn thể hiện được trình độ viết,
trình độ ngôn nhữ của học sinh. Ngoài ran nếu collocation sai thì ngôn ngữ, languages trong
bài sẽ không được trôi chảy. Điều này ảnh hưởng đến độ fluency của bài viết

Trong quá trình dạy viết, cô thấy sinh viên có thường mắc lỗi collocation không ?

Có khá nhiều. Ví dụ như một từ đơn giản như cách dung của từ “do” và từ “make”. Hoặc là lẽ
ra phải viết là “do a crossword” nhưng một số bạn viết là “make a crossword”

Theo cô, sinh viên thường mắc loại lỗi nào nhất trong các lỗi sau đây?
1. Adjective + Noun
2. Quantifier + Noun
3. Verb + Noun
4. Noun + Verb
5. Noun + Noun
6. Preposition + Noun
7. Noun + Preposition
8. Adverb + Verb
9. Verb + Verb
10. Verb + Preposition
11. Verb + Adjective
12. Adverb + Adjective
31

13. Adjective + Preposition


14. Adjective + Verb + Adjective + Noun + Preposition + Noun

Ở đây cô thấy là sinh viên thường mắc lỗi với Verb + Noun, Noun + Preposition, Verb +
Verb, Adverb + Adjective. Ví dụ từ “wonderful” thì một số bạn viết là “very wonderful”
nhưng thực ra phải là “absolutely wonderful”

Theo cô, có những nguyên nhân phổ biến nào khiến sinh viên thường mắc loại lỗi này?

Thứ nhất là do tiếng mẹ đẻ tức là nhiều khi sinh viên quen dung tiếng việt hơn tiếng anh nên
thường mắc lỗi Verb and Noun, Preposition. Ví dụ khi người ta nói là “send it to me” nhưng
theo tiếng việt có nghĩa là “gửi bó cho tôi” nên mình lại hay viết là “send it for me”. Thứ hai là
do sinh viên bất cẩn trong việc viết.

Cô có thể đưa ra một số giải pháp để khắc phục các lỗi sai về collocation khi làm bài môn
viết?

Cách đầu tiên là phòng ngừa nó. Cô thường hay suggest cho học sinh làtrước khi đọc, trước
khi viết nên đọc nhiều, tham khảo nhiều nguồn tài liệu khác nhau. Từ đó phát hiện ra những
cụm từ liên quan đến chủ đề của mình và sử dụng những cụm từ đó vào trong bài viết. Như thế
sẽ tránh được những lỗi do ảnh hưởng của tiếng mẹ đẻ. Thứ hai khi học từ không nên học theo
từng cùm từ riêng lẻ mà học theo hệ thống từng cụm từ. ví dụ khi mình học từ “attention”,
mình không nên chỉ học riêng từ đó mà nên học cả cụm như “pay attention to”. Ngoài ra, khi
không chắc về một cùm từ nào đó mình có thể tra trên goggle để tìm được những gợi ý tốt
nhất. hoắc mình cũng có thể hỏi bạn bè hoặc tra trong quyển từ diển “Oxford collocation”.
32

Interview with Teacher 2


(Translation)
According to your experience, can you please remark the general role of collocation in
developing English writing skill?

In my opinion, collocation is very important in writing. It not only helps students write well
but also expresses the students' level and the ability of language. Besides, if collocation is not
good, the writing will not be fluent.

In writing skill, do your students make collocation mistakes?

Very often. For example, students often write '' make a crossword'' instead of ''do a crossword''

In your opinion, what are the most typical collocation mistakes among these following types?
1. Adjective + Noun
2. Quantifier + Noun
3. Verb + Noun
4. Noun + Verb
5. Noun + Noun
6. Preposition + Noun
7. Noun + Preposition
8. Adverb + Verb
9. Verb + Verb
10. Verb + Preposition
11. Verb + Adjective
12. Adverb + Adjective
13. Adjective + Preposition
14. Adjective + Verb + Adjective + Noun + Preposition + Noun

Verb + Noun, Noun + Preposition, Verb + Verb, Adverb + Adjective. For example, students
often write ''very wonderful'' instead of '' absolutely wonderful”

In your opinion, what are the typical reasons for collocation mistakes?

Firstly, because of mother tongue, students are more familiar with Vietnamese than English,
so they make mistake about Verb and Noun, Preposition. For example,'' send it for me"
means” gui no cho toi''. In fact, the correct way is: “send it to me". Secondly, students are not
careful in writing.

Can you please give some suggestions to avoid collocation mistakes in writing?
-- read much to improve the vocabulary
-- study basing on structures and phrases
-- search on goggle to find the correct way of native speakers
33

-- ask friends for peer check


-- use collocation dictionary
34

Appendix 2: Interview Transcript


Interview with Teacher 3

1. Setting
Place: via email
2. Personal information
- Gender: female
- Numbers of year teaching: 6
3. Content:
Với kinh nghiệm của cô, xin cô cho biết nhận xét chung về vai trò của collocation trong việc
phát triển kĩ năng viết tiếng anh?

Collocation đóng vai trò đáng kể trong việc phát triển kỹ năng viết đoạn dành cho sinh viên
năm thứ hai vì nó liên quan đến cohesion và coherence

Trong quá trình dạy viết, cô thấy sinh viên có thường mắc lỗi collocation không ?

Lỗi lexical collocation sinh viên thường mắc nhiều hơn grammatical collocation

Theo cô, sinh viên thường mắc loại lỗi nào nhất trong các lỗi sau đây?
1. Adjective + Noun
2. Quantifier + Noun
3. Verb + Noun
4. Noun + Verb
5. Noun + Noun
6. Preposition + Noun
7. Noun + Preposition
8. Adverb + Verb
9. Verb + Verb
10. Verb + Preposition
11. Verb + Adjective
12. Adverb + Adjective
13. Adjective + Preposition
14. Adjective + Verb + Adjective + Noun + Preposition + Noun

1,5,8,12,14

Theo cô, có những nguyên nhân phổ biến nào khiến sinh viên thường mắc loại lỗi này?
35

Do ảnh hưởng của tiếng mẹ đẻ, do vốn từ vựng còn nghèo nàn, ngữ pháp còn lỏng lẻo và do
lỗi bất cẩn của bản thân

Cô có thể đưa ra một số giải pháp để khắc phục các lỗi sai về collocation khi làm bài môn
viết?

Giáo viên giúp đỡ sv trong việc tăng cường nhận thức lỗi collocation mà họ mắc phải cũng
như cách khắc phục. Bản thân sinh viên phải tự trau dồi bằng nhiều phương thức như đọc sâu
đọc rộng, luyện viết thường xuyên với sự hỗ trợ của giáo viên và bạn bè.
36

Interview with Teacher 1


(Translation)

According to your experience, can you please remark the general role of collocation in
developing English writing skill?

Collocation plays an important role in develop writing skill among second year student
because it involves cohesion and coherence.

In writing skill, do your students make collocation mistakes?

Yes, students make mistakes about lexical collocation more than grammatical collocation

In your opinion, what are the most typical collocation mistakes among these following types?
1. Adjective + Noun
2. Quantifier + Noun
3. Verb + Noun
4. Noun + Verb
5. Noun + Noun
6. Preposition + Noun
7. Noun + Preposition
8. Adverb + Verb
9. Verb + Verb
10. Verb + Preposition
11. Verb + Adjective
12. Adverb + Adjective
13. Adjective + Preposition
14. Adjective + Verb + Adjective + Noun + Preposition + Noun

Adjective + Noun, Noun + Noun, Adverb + Verb, Adverb + Adjective, Adjective + Verb +
Adjective + Noun + Preposition + Noun.

In your opinion, what are the typical reasons for collocation mistakes?

Due to the effect of mother tongue, the limited vocabulary, uncertain grammar and
carelessness of students.

Can you please give some suggestions to avoid collocation mistakes in writing?

Teachers help students to be more aware of collocation mistakes and the ways to correct.
Students themselves must improve by reading much and deeply, writing more often with the
help of teachers and friends.