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Role of Lexical Chunks in English Writing

Author: WangDaXiong
Tutor: WangXiaoYan
School: Hunan University
Course: Foreign Linguistics and Applied Linguistics
Keywords: lexical chunks lexical approach senior English writing empirical study
CLC: G633.41
Type: Master's thesis
Year: 2011
Downloads: 185
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Abstract


Writing is one of the indispensable components of language skills. However, it is a weak point in English teaching. Among the four basic skills (listening, speaking, reading and writing), writing is regarded as the most difficult in foreign language learning and acquisition. It is a great challenge for senior high school students to write good compositions in a given time. How to improve students‘writing ability becomes a hot topic in the field of foreign language teaching and research.With the fast development of corpus linguistics, many applied linguists observe the fact that language consists not of traditional grammar and vocabulary but often of large quantities of prefabricated chunks. Being the combination of form and function, lexical chunks are the language units which exist with high frequency in language. They are composites of grammar, semantics and pragmatics, playing a vital part in communication. Lexical chunks contribute to accelerating the speed of language processing, and facilitating the language acquisition and production. Based on the cognitive psychology, lexical approach is a kind of compromise between structural approach and communicative approach—not only attaches importance to grammar, but puts emphasis on the appropriate usage of the context. The most important principle of the lexical approach is―language consists of grammaticalized lexis—not lexicalized grammar‖(Michael Lewis, 1993: 89). In this thesis, lexical approach is introduced as a new way to improve senior English writing.The empirical study in this thesis attempts to testify the hypothesis that lexical chunk instruction in the classroom setting plays an important role in improving senior high school students‘writing ability. The subjects in the study were 100 students in Grade Two from two naturally occurring classes of Lujiang No. 2 Middle School. They were randomly designated as the Control Group and the Experiment Group. Each group had 50 students. The experiment lasted 16 weeks from September, 2010 to the end of December. In this experiment, the Control Group was taught in the traditional teaching method. Students mainly learned individual word by means of bilingual word lists and rote learning. In Experiment Group, various exercises and activities which were closely related to lexical chunks formed the basis of classroom practice. These activities aimed at helping students to build the concept of lexical chunks and making them use lexical chunks consciously in their writing. By doing this, they can form the habit of thinking in English and their writing ability has improved. Through the quantitative analysis and qualitative analysis, the results indicate that the subjects of the Experiment Group have achieved significant progress in both composition scores and the number and quality of lexical chunks used in the compositions after the instruction. Besides, a questionnaire was carried out among the 50 students of Experiment Group and 7 students were chosen for an interview after the post-test. Through the answers to the questionnaire and the interview, the author finds out that most students in Experiment Group accept lexical approach and realize the roles that lexical chunks play in improving writing ability. Teaching lexical chunks offers a new direction for language teaching. Meanwhile, this empirical study is based on a limited number of subjects and whether its findings can be generalized to other student populations remain a problem. Therefore, this study needs further improving.

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CLC: > Culture, science,education, sports > Education > Secondary education > Subjects teaching methods, teaching aids > Foreign language > English
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