Language Teaching Research vol:20 issue:1 pages:113-138
This study investigates whether congruency (+/- literal translation equivalent) and word class (adjective-noun, verb-noun, phrasal verb-noun collocations) are predictors of EFL learners’ learning collocations at the initial stage of form-meaning mapping. Eighteen collocations were selected on the basis of a pretest. They were divided into 9 congruent and 9 incongruent collocations and into 6 verb-noun collocations, 6 phrasal verb-noun collocations and 6 adjective-noun collocations. Forty-one EFL learners (L1 = Dutch) were asked to read a word list containing the 18 target collocations, their translation and a sample sentence and to complete four online exercises, in which the 18 collocations were presented twice. Learning gains were measured at three levels of sensitivity: form recall test 1, form recall test 2 (+ clue), form recognition test. Mixed findings were revealed. Congruency affected the odds in favor of a correct response in the two form recall tests but not in the recognition test. Word class affected the odds of a correct response in the three posttests. Depending on the posttest, other variables such as participants’ vocabulary size and word length of the individual constituents making up the collocation also affected the odds in favor of a correct response.