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IOE student’s Master’s dissertation published in language research journal

19 March 2021

A Master’s dissertation written by recent graduate Yuwei Liu (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages MA) has been published in the international, peer-reviewed journal Second Language Research.

Young woman talking to friends in a restaurant. Image: Jessica Da Rosa on Unsplash

The paper examined the role of collocation in second language learners’ oral development. Collocation is a series of words that tend to be used together in an established phrase, for example ‘heavy’ might be associated with ‘heavy weather, ‘heavy snow’, ‘heavy drinker’ rather than ‘weighty weather, ‘weighty snow’ and ‘weighty drinker’.

Yuwei was interested in how collocation can impact second language learning and assessment. Together with her supervisor, Dr Kazuya Saito, she conducted a series of experiments, finding that the use of collocation matters a lot for communicative success when second language speakers are interacting not only with native speakers, but also with other non-native speakers.

They also found that with a few years of immersion experience, second language speakers can pick up on a near-nativelike use of collocation. Also, conversational experience helps expose second language learners to different combinations of words, helping them develop greater understanding of collocation.

Dr Kazuya Saito said: “Second Language Research is a prestigious peer-reviewed academic journal in the field of linguistics. It’s exceptionally rare that Yuwei conducted such a high-quality, innovative project within her limited time at UCL, and made it for publication at an MA level. Yuwei has been passionate and active in research.

“Given that word recognition technology has evolved exponentially, the findings have hinted at a possibility that we can automatically predict what kind of foreign speech can be easy vs. difficult to understand based on the use of collocation.”

Recently, IOE alumna Chaoqun Zheng (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages MA) also had her Master’s dissertation published in Second Language Research.



Image: Jessica Da Rosa on Unsplash