Teaching Business Collocations164“... communicative competence is not a matter of knowing rules for thecomposition of sentences and being able to employ such rules to assembleexpressions from scratch as and when occasion requires. It is much moreof knowing a stock of partially pre-assembled patterns, formulaicframeworks, and a kit of rules, so to speak, and being able to apply therules to make whatever adjustments are necessary according to contextualdemands.”(Widdowson, 1989: 135)
The essential breakthrough of the lexical approach is that it underlinesthe inseparability of lexis and grammar, thus advocating an integratedapproach, taking into consideration the generative power of grammaticalwords. The notion of
, in conjunction with
we understand a typical grammatical patterningthat a word may be found in. For example, we can say: “it isastonishing/suprising/amazing”, but we can only say “It is not surprisingthat…”. The other two near synonyms only colligate with the affirmative.Teachers need to raise their students’ awareness as to the way in whichdifferent collocations (and colligations) are used in business contexts. Inorder to do that, we may design a task-based approach to teaching/learningvocabulary. We will present in the following some methods that cancontribute to the development our business students’ mental lexicon.
1 Using concordancers
and lexical databases
There are some useful online concordancers that can be used during anEnglish class, set in a multimedia language laboratory, with Internetaccess, such as:
British National Corpus
, available at:http://natcorp.ox.ac.uk/lookup.html(the unsubscribed online version will only display a random selectionof 50 hits);
, available at:http://www.edict.com.hk/concordance/WWWConcappE.htm, withsome 27 corpora to choose from; or
Online BLC KWIC Concordancer
– Business Letter Corpus,available at:http://ysomeya.hp.infoseek.co.jp/, with a choice of 18 corpora.
a concordancer = a search engine for looking through a large body of texts, i.e. acorpus