Which type of instruction fosters chunk learning? Preliminary conclusions


  • Mercedes Pérez Serrano Columbia University Universidad Antonio de Nebrija




Lexical chunks, collocations, formulaic language, attention-drawing techniques, exercises on collocations, explicit learning, Spanish as a Second Language


Formulaic language learning has been shown to be problematic and slow in adult L2 learners. In this study, we test some of the recommendations of a lexical approach. We compare the results of the implementation of chunk attention-directing techniques and explicit exercises of previously selected chunks in 52 Spanish as a second language learners over a period of seven weeks. In light of the results obtained, we can conclude that (1) exposure to lexical chunks, chunk noticing in the input and explicit exercises contribute to the development of abilities in the active recognition of chunks, and (2) learning gains obtained through explicit exercises are significantly greater than those obtained through attention-directing techniques.


Download data is not yet available.


Alba-Quiñones, V. (2014). “El uso de las colocaciones en muestras escritas de aprendices de español. Análisis e implicaciones metodológicas”. Estudios de lingüística: ELUA, 28, 155-176. https://doi.org/10.14198/ELUA2014.28.06

Boers, F., J. Eyckmans, J. Cappel, H. Stengers, M. Demecheleer. (2006). “Formulaic sequences and perceived oral proficiency: putting a Lexical Approach to the test”. Language Teaching Research, 10, 245-261. https://doi.org/10.1191/1362168806lr195oa

Boers, F., Lindstromberg, S. (2009). Optimizing a lexical approach to instructed second language acquisition. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230245006

Boers, F., Lindstromberg, S. (2012). “Experimental and intervention studies on formulaic sequences in a second language”. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 32, 83-110. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0267190512000050

Boers, F., Demecheleer, M., Coxhead, A., Webb, S. (2014). “Gauging the effects of exercises on verb- noun collocations”. Language Teaching Research, 18, 54-74. https://doi.org/10.1177/1362168813505389

Boers, F., Demecheleer, M., He, L., Deconinck, J., Stengers, H., Eyckmans, J. (2016). “Typographical enhancement of multi-word units in second language text. International Journal of Applied Linguistics. Early online publication. https://doi.org/10.1111/ijal.12141

Bosque, I. (ed.). (2006). Diccionario práctico combinatorio del español contemporáneo. Madrid: SM.

Durrant, P., Schmitt, N. (2010). “Adult learners’ retention of collocations from exposure”. Second language research, 26(2): 163-188. https://doi.org/10.1177/0267658309349431

Eyckmans, J., Boers, F., Stengers, H. (2007). “Identifying Chunks: Who Can See the Wood for the Trees?” Language Forum, 33, 85-100.

Gyllstad, H. (2007). Testing English Collocations: Developing Receptive Test for Use with Advanced Sweedish Learners. Lund: Lund University.

Gyllstad, H. (2015). (Personal communication, February 10, 2015).

Higueras, M. (2006). Las colocaciones en el aula de ELE. Madrid: Arco Libros.

Higueras, M. (2011). “Lexical collocations and the learning of Spanish as a foreign language”. In J.L. Cifuentes Honrubia and S. Rodríguez Rosique (eds.). Spanish Word Formation and Lexical Creation, pp. 439-464. Amsterdam/Filadelfia: John Benjamins Publishing Company. https://doi.org/10.1075/ivitra.1.18gar

Hulstijn, J. H., Laufer, B. (2001). “Some Empirical Evidence for the Involvement Load Hypothesis in Vocabulary Acquisition”. Language Learning, 51, 539–558. https://doi.org/10.1111/0023-8333.00164

Laufer, B. (1997). “The lexical plight in second language reading”. In J. Coady and T. Huckin (eds.). Second Language Vocabulary Acquisition: A rationale for pedagogy, pp. 20-34. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Laufer, B. (2010). “Form focused instruction in second language vocabulary learning”. In R. Chacón-Beltrán, C. Abello-Contesse, M. M. Torreblanca-López and M. D. López- Jiménez (eds.). Further insights into non-native vocabulary teaching and learning, pp. 15-27. Bristol, Buffalo, Toronto: Multilingual Matters.

Laufer, B., Girsai, N. (2008). “Form-focused instruction in second language vocabulary learning: A case for contrastive analysis and translation”. Applied Linguistics, 29, 694–716. https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/amn018

Laufer, N., Waldman, T. (2011). “Verb-Noun Collocations in Second Language Writing: A Corpus Analysis of Learners’ English”. Language Learning, 61/2, 647-672. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9922.2010.00621.x

Lewis, M. (1993). The Lexical Approach. London: Language Teaching Publications.

Lewis, M. (1997). Implementing the Lexical Approach. London: Language Teaching Publications.

Lewis, M. (ed.). (2000). Teaching Collocation. Further Developments in the Lexical Approach. London: Language Teaching Publications.

Li, J., Schmitt, N. (2010). “The development of collocation use in academic texts by advanced L2 learners: A multiple case study approach”. In D. Wood (ed.). Perspectives on formulaic language: Acquisition and communication, pp. 22–46. Lindstromberg, S., Boers, F. (2008). Teaching Chunks of Language. From Noticing to Remembering. Helbling Languages.

Meunier, F., Granger, S. (eds.). (2008). Phraseology in Foreign Language Learning and Teaching. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. https://doi.org/10.1075/z.138

Nation, P., Webb, S. (2011). Researching and analyzing vocabulary. Boston: Heinle Cengage Learning.

Nekrasova, T. (2009). “English L1 and L2 speakers’ knowledge of lexical bundles”. Language Learning, 59, 647–686. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9922.2009.00520.x

Nesselhauf, N. (2003). “The use of collocations by advanced learners of English and some implications for teaching”. Applied Linguistics, 24, 223–242. https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/24.2.223

Nesselhauf, N. (2005). Collocations in a Learner Corpus. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. https://doi.org/10.1075/scl.14

Pellicer-Sánchez, A. (2015). “Learning L2 collocations incidentally from reading”. Language Teaching Research. 21/3, 381-402. https://doi.org/10.1177/1362168815618428

Pérez Serrano, M. (2015). Un enfoque léxico a prueba: efectos de la instrucción en el aprendizaje de las colocaciones léxicas. (Unpublished PhD. Dissertation). Departamento de Lengua Española. Universidad de Salamanca.

Pérez Serrano, M. (2017). La enseñanza-aprendizaje del vocabulario en ELE desde los enfoques léxicos. Madrid: Arco Libros.

Peters, E. (2007). “The influence of Task Instruction on Vocabulary Acquisition and Reading Comprehension”. In M. P. García Mayo (ed.). Investigating Task in Formal Language Learning, pp. 178-98. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

Peters, E. (2012). “Learning German formulaic sequences: The effect of two attention- drawing techniques”. Language Learning Journal, 40, 65-79. https://doi.org/10.1080/09571736.2012.658224

Real Academia Española. Corpus de referencia del español actual. Retrieved from http://corpus.rae.es/creanet.html

Robinson, P. (1995). “Task complexity and second language narrative discourse”. Language Learning, 45/1, 99-140. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-1770.1995.tb00964.x

Robinson, P. (2003). “Attention and memory during SLA”. In C.J. Doughty and M.H. Long (eds.). The handbook of Second Language Acquisition, pp. 631-78. New York: Blackwell publishing. https://doi.org/10.1002/9780470756492.ch19

Sánchez Rufat, A. (2011). “Léxico gramaticalizado y lengua formulaica: algunas precisiones al enfoque léxico”. Singagma, 23, 85-98

Sánchez Rufat, A. (2015). “La naturaleza léxico semántica del verbo dar en la construcción verbo+nombre”. Anuario de Estudios Filológicos, 38, 205-223.

Schmidt, R. (2001). “Attention”. In Cognition and second language instruction. In P. Robinson (ed.), 3-33. New York: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139524780.003

Schmitt, N. (ed.) (2004). Formulaic sequences: acquisition, processing and use. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. https://doi.org/10.1075/lllt.9

Schmitt, N. (2008). “Instructed Second Language Vocabulary Learning”. Language Teaching Research, 12, 329-363. https://doi.org/10.1177/1362168808089921

Schmitt, N. (2010). Researching vocabulary: A vocabulary research manual. Basingstoke: Palgrave. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230293977

Siyanova-Chanturia, A., Conklin, K., Schmitt, N. (2011). “Adding more fuel to the fire: An eye- tracking study of idiom processing by native and nonnative speakers”. Second Language Research, 21, 1-22. https://doi.org/10.1177/0267658310382068

Siyanova-Chanturia, A. (2017). “Researching the teaching and learning of multi-word expressions”. Language Teaching Research, 21/3, 289-297. https://doi.org/10.1177/1362168817706842

Stengers H., Boers, F., Housen, A., Eyckmans, J. (2010). “Does chunking foster chunk-uptake?” In S. De Knop, F. Boers and T. De Rycker (eds.). Fostering Language Teaching Efficiency through Cognitive Linguistics, pp. 99-117. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter. https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110245837.99

Stengers H., Boers, F., Housen, A. (2011). “Formulaic sequences and L2 oral proficiency: Does the type of target language influence the association?” International Review of Applied Linguistics Linguistics, 49/4, 321-343. https://doi.org/10.1515/iral.2011.017

Stengers, H., Boers, F. (2015). “Exercises on collocations: a comparison of trial-and-error and exemplar-guided procedures”. Journal of Spanish Language Teaching, 2/2, 152-164.

Szudarski, P. (2012). “Effects of meaning-and form-focused instruction on the acquisition of verb-noun collocations in L2 English”. Journal of Second Language Teaching & Research, 1/2, 3–37. Retrieved from http://pops.uclan.ac.uk/index.php/jsltr/article/view/32

VanPatten, B. (1990). “Attending to form and content in the input: an experiment in consciousness”. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 12/3, 287-301. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0272263100009177 New York: Continuum.

Webb, S., Newton, J., Chang, A. (2013). “Incidental learning of collocation”. Language Learning, 63, 91-120. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9922.2012.00729.x

Yamashita, J., Jiang, N. (2010). “L1 influence on the acquisition of L2 collocations: Japanese ESL users and EFL learners acquiring English collocations”. TESOL Quarterly, 44, 647-668. https://doi.org/10.5054/tq.2010.235998