Welcome back to the blog! For many students revising for English examinations, one of the most difficult components to revise for is the comprehension cloze. That is because the blanks can be filled with a wide variety of answers.
How can you make your revision simpler? Consider how the answers can fall into four categories:
Today, I will be focusing on: collocations.
This category of answers can prove challenging for students, especially for those who do not read widely. To native speakers of the language or those who read widely and are sensitive to how different words are commonly used together, collocations just ‘sound correct’. So, if you do not read widely, you might not attain an acute sense of collocations!
Before you can start collecting collocations, you need to understand what a collocation is. Basically, the words in a collocation cannot be easily replaced by another word. For example, people would say ‘I have made the bed’ instead of ‘I have tidied the bed’ even though ‘tidy’ captures the essence of the sentence more accurately. This is because ‘make’ is the collocation that most people recognise and hence, other words would not be accepted.
Hence, having ample knowledge of English common collocations will help you greatly in filling in those blanks for comprehension cloze!
TIP: When revising collocations, you could arrange them by content and by language. For content-related collocations, you could further arrange them into themes. For language-related collocations, you could arrange them into functions.
To show you how you can effectively revise and increase your knowledge of collocations during revision, I have collected a series of collocations from schools’ past year papers just for you! Let’s take a look at some of them and how the categorisation can be done below.
(A) Content-related collocations: Various themes
There are definitely many more collocations out there! Whenever you attempt a comprehension cloze or read a text, you could try to identify the collocations that appear and group them by themes for revision. To help you get started, take note of the following:
Firstly, make sure to check that it is a collocation by replacing the answer with another word. e.g. pay attention vs pay awareness. As mentioned earlier on, the words in a collocation cannot be easily replaced by another word.
Secondly, depending on the collocation, you can be creative in grouping them into different themes. Make sure to use themes that you can easily see how the collocations can be placed together under. Do not be afraid to start new themes as well. Since there are so many collocations, there are bound to be many themes that the collocations can be categorised under.
Thirdly, if a collocation fits well into more than one theme, you can make the decision to either place them in the theme that you feel fit best or just add them into all the themes that you feel overlap. Repeated exposure to the same item during your revision will definitely be helpful in retention.
Lastly, constantly revise and clean up your list of themes. At times, you may realise that some themes can be collapsed together. If that helps your revision to be more efficient and effective, go for it.
(B) Language-related collocations: By function
Language-related collocations can also be considered as contextual-type answers. This is because they usually perform grammatical functions. Many of these collocations are transitional phrases that are used to connect or link ideas in various ways.
The clues in the passage (that means contextual clues) will give you a hint as to how the textual ideas are linked, so it is essential that you read the passage closely and identify the various relationships between textual ideas!
Let’s take a look at some of the common phrases that are used to achieve certain functions in writing:
With this post, I hope that you have got the message that collocations are important to language learning! Do remember to pay attention to the collocations that you come in contact with when reading. In addition, remember to look out for contextual clues whenever you attempt a comprehension cloze. Work hard and work smart! You will surely make progress!
(I have used four collocations in the paragraph above! Can you identify them? The answers are at the end of the post.)