The topic of collocations is popular in vocabulary acquisition-based studies. Researchers (Boers, Demecheleer, Coxhead, & Webb, 2014; Pellicer-Sánchez, 2017; Webb, Newton, & Chang, 2013) implement many strategies for teaching/testing collocations, varying from intuitive noticing to repetition/drilling and analysis-based activities. However, collocational competence is slow to develop in learners of English as a second/additional language (L2), and so far, there is no clear understanding of factors impacting collocation acquisition. This dissertation examines external and internal factors influencing collocation recognition and controlled production by speakers of English as L2 in three consecutive studies.
The first study was based on an acceptability judgment-focused reading-comprehension task and a survey that compared populations of speakers of English as a first language (L1) and L2. This phase identified that speakers of English as L2 with higher test scores implemented similar reading-comprehension strategies as speakers of English as L1. Additionally, the factors of English as a predominant language of communication, L1, and vocabulary learning strategies were the most significant external factors. The results of the second and third stages of the research were based on a teaching module, pre- and post-instruction cloze and multiple-choice/acceptability judgement matrix-based tests, and a post-test survey. The findings suggested that such interconnected characteristics of collocations as frequency of occurrence and co-occurrence and morphosyntactic type (MST) influence collocation recognition and production. In terms of frequency, collocations with low frequency of occurrence and high frequency of co-occurrence were found to be more difficult to recognize pre-instruction and more susceptible to teaching intervention. In terms of MST, Verb + Noun, Adjective + Noun, and Verb + Adjective were strong pre-instruction test score predictors; however, they were not easily acquired, and it was Verb + Adjective and Adverb + Adjective collocations that showed an improvement in post-instruction test scores. Other research implications concern strategies of teaching/testing collocations based on their characteristics. The testing format of a cloze and multiple-choice/acceptability judgment matrix modelled after Revier (2009) was an effective measurement of recognition and production of whole collocations in the sentence-level context. Additionally, a blended teaching approach based on noticing, repetition, and deep processing proved successful.