No Silver Bullet: L2 Collocation Instruction in an Advanced Spanish Classroom
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.5070/L29335670
Many contemporary second language (L2) instructional materials feature collocation exercises; however, few studies have verified their effectiveness (Boers, Demecheleer, Coxhead, & Webb, 2014) or whether these exercises can be utilized for target languages beyond English (Higueras García, 2017). This study addresses these issues by investigating whether Laufer & Girsai’s (2008) instructional protocol of contrastive analysis and translation (CAT) is effective for teaching collocations in an advanced Spanish course. 25 verb-noun collocations were selected from course readings. A CAT group completed collocation workshops following Laufer & Girsai’s protocol. A control group encountered the target collocations in course texts but received no explicit collocation instruction. A third group received form-focused instruction (FFI) consisting of non-contrastive vocabulary exercises. Results indicated that both CAT and FFI groups demonstrated significantly increased collocation knowledge, whereas the Control Group learned very few target collocations. Differences in learning gains between the CAT and FFI groups were not significant. These results suggest that (a) any exercise that leads students to cognitively engage with the forms and meanings of targeted collocations will lead to their acquisition, and that (b) without some form of explicit instruction, most students will not independently acquire collocations in an advanced language course.