Vo Thi Tuyet Hong, Truong Thi Tai Quyen, Tran Thi Thuy Nhu, Le Thi My Duyen, Tran Thi Thanh Yen


One of the main goals of language learners is to master all four skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing when it comes to their acquisition of the target language. However, during the process of learning English, learners inevitably face a variety of challenges related to their writing including grammatical errors, word choice, organization, idea development, and most importantly their difficulties in using collocations (Duong & Nguyen, 2021). Therefore, this study has been conducted to investigate the students’ use of English collocations in their academic essays associated with their difficulties so that appropriate pedagogical approaches and practices would be taken into consideration in order to help students improve their English collocational competences in academic writing. This descriptive study was carried out with 103 English-majored students of the High-quality program of the School of Foreign Languages at Can Tho University, Vietnam. A 5-point Likert scale survey with 18 questionnaire items was employed to examine the frequency of students' exposure to as well as their usage of English collocations, and their difficulties in using English collocations. The results of this study have shown that the most commonly used collocations in the students’ academic essays were ‘verb + noun’, and ‘adjective + noun’ lexical collocations. Additionally, the research outcomes have revealed that the types of English collocations that the students were more likely to make the most mistakes belonged to ‘verb + adverb’, and ‘adjective + noun’ lexical collocations.


Article visualizations:

Hit counter


collocations, academic essays, difficulties

Full Text:



Begagić, M. (2014). English language students’ productive and receptive knowledge of collocations. Explorations in English Language and Linguistics, 2(1), 46-67. doi:10.1515/exell-2016-0003

Benson, M., Benson, E., & Ilson, R. (1986). The BBI combinatory dictionary of English (first edition). Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Benson, M., Benson, E., & Ilson, R. (1997). The BBI Combinatory Dictionary of English (second edition). Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Benson, M., Benson, E., & Ilson, R. (2010). The BBI Combinatory Dictionary of English (third edition). Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Boonraksa, T., & Naisena, S. (2022). A Study on English collocation errors of Thai EFL students. English language teaching, 15(1), 164-177. doi:10.5539/elt.v15n1p164

Boonyasaquan, S. (2006). An analysis of collocational violations in translation. Journal of Humanities, 27, 79-91.

Cambridge Assessment English, IELTS (International English Language Testing System) Results, 2020,

Carter, R., McCarthy, M., Mark, G., & O‟Keeffe, A. (2011). English grammar today: An A-Z of spoken and written grammar. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Crosthwaite, P., De Souza, N., & Loewenthal, M. (2017). Mindset for IELTS: Student book 2. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Detdamrongpreecha, B. (2014). The acquisition of basic collocations by Thai learners of English. SDU Research Journal Humanities and Social Science, 10(3), 37-53.

Dokchandra, D. (2019). Thai EFL learners' collocational competence and their perceptions of collocational difficulty. Theory and Practice in Language Studies, 9(7), 776-784. doi:10.17507/tpls.0907.04

Duong, D. T. H., & Nguyen, N. D. T. (2021). Using collocations to enhance academic writing: A survey study at Van Lang University. In 17th International Conference of the Asia Association of Computer-Assisted Language Learning (AsiaCALL 2021) (pp. 275-287). Atlantis Press. doi:10.2991/assehr.k.210226.035

Erman, B., & Warren, B. (2000). The idiom principle and the open choice principle. Text & Talk, 20(1), 29-62. doi: 10.1515/text.1.2000.20.1.29

Fan, M. (2009). An exploratory study of collocational use by ESL students – A task-based approach. System, 37(1), 110-123. doi:10.1016/j.system.2008.06.004

Firth. J. R. (1957). Modes of meaning’ in papers in linguistics. London: Oxford University Press.

Hill, J. (2000). Revising priorities: From grammatical failure to collocational success. In Lewis, D. M. (Ed.), Teaching collocation: Further developments in the lexical approach (pp. 47- 69). Hove, UK: Language Teaching Publications.

Kuo, C. L. (2009). An analysis of the use of collocation by intermediate EFL college students in Taiwan. ARECLS, 6, 141-155.

Lewis, M. (1997). Implementing the lexical approach. England: Language Teaching Publication.

Lewis, M. (2000). Teaching collocation: Further developments in the lexical approach. London: Language Teaching Publications.

Mahmoud, A. (2005). Collocation errors made by Arab learners of English. Asian EFL Journal, 5(2), 117-126.

Mallikamas, P., & Pongpairoj, N. (2005). Thai learners’ knowledge of English collocations. HKBU Papers in Applied Language Studies, 5(1), 1-28.

McCarthy, M. (1990). Vocabulary. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

McCarthy, M., & O'Dell, F. (2005). English collocations in use. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

McCarthy, M., O’Dell, F. (2008). English collocations in use: How words work together for fluent and natural English: Self-study and classroom use. Cambridge: University of Cambridge.

McCarthy, M., & O'Dell, F. (2017). English collocations in use (second edition). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Men, H. (2018). Vocabulary increase and collocation learning: A corpus-based cross-sectional study of Chinese learners of English. Singapore: Springer. doi:10.1007/978-981-10-5822-6

Mclntosh, C., Francis, B., & Poole, R. (Eds.). (2009). Oxford collocations dictionary for students of English (2nd edition). Oxford: Oxford University Press

McIntosh, C. (Ed.). 2013. Cambridge advanced learner’s dictionary (3rd edition). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Mohamed, G. E. D. H., & Eltayeb, M. (2016). Difficulties and problems that face Sudanese EFL learners students in learning English collocations. SUST Journal of Humanities, 17(2), 173-190.

Mongkolchai, A. (2008). A study of university students' ability in using English collocations. Master’s project. Srinakharinwirot University, Thailand.

Namvar, F. (2012). The relationship between language proficiency and use of collocation by Iranian EFL students. 3L, Language, Linguistics, Literature, 18(3), 41-52.

Osman, B. G., & Abdalla, A. Y. (2019). Exploring the difficulties encountered by postgraduates in using English collocations. SUST Journal of Linguistic and Literary Studies, 20(4), 142-148.

Phoocharoensil, S. (2011). Collocational errors in EFL learners’ interlanguage. Journal of Education and Practice, 2(3), 103-120.

Phoocharoensil, S. (2014). Exploring learners' developing L2 collocational competence. Theory and Practice in Language Studies, 4(12), 2533-2540. doi:10.4304/tpls.4.12.2533-2540

Saito, K. (2020). Multi‐or single‐word units? The role of collocation use in comprehensible and contextually appropriate second language speech. Language Learning, 70(2), 548-588. doi:10.1111/lang.12387

Saud, W. (2018). An analysis of collocation errors committed by EFL learners. Retrieved from

Shitu, F. M. (2015). Collocation errors in English as second language (ESL) writing. International Journal of Cognitive and Language Sciences, 9(9), 3270-3277. doi:10.5281/zenodo.1110888

Sinclair, J. (1991). Corpus, concordance, collocation. Oxford: Oxford University Press. doi:10.2307/330144

Tanihardjo, J. (2017). Indonesian EFL students’ production of English lexical collocation in writing. Journal of English Language and Culture, 7(2), 64-72. doi:10.30813/jelc.v7i2.1025

Thongvitit, S. & Thumawongsa, N. (2017). A corpus-based study of English collocations found in the abstracts of research articles written by Thai EFL writers. International Journal of Social Science and Humanity, 7(12), 751-755. doi:10.18178/ijssh.2017.7.12.920

Trng, V. T., & Thao, T. T. (2021). A study on the use of English collocation in writing by students at Thai Nguyen University. International Journal of Social Science and Human Research, 4(5), 1044-1049. doi:10.47191/ijsshr/v4-i5-19

Wei, Y. (1999). Teaching collocations for productive vocabulary development. Presented at the Annual Meeting of the Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, New York, 1999 (pp. 123-136). doi:10.22108/ARE.2019.115716.1434

Wood, D. (2002). Formulaic language acquisition and production: Implications for teaching. TESL Canada Journal, 20(1), 01-15. doi: doi:10.18806/tesl.v20i1.935

Woolard, G. (2000). Collocation-encouraging learner independence. In Lewis, M. (Ed.) Teaching collocation: Further developments in the lexical approach (pp. 28-46). Hove: Language Teaching Publications.

Yamashita, J., & Jiang, N. (2010). L1 influence on the acquisition of L2 collocations: Japanese ESL users and EFL learners acquiring English collocations. TESOL Quarterly, 44(4), 647–668. doi:10.2307/27896758

Yumanee, C., & Phoocharoensil, S. (2013). Analysis of collocational errors of Thai EFL students. Learn Journal: Language Education and Acquisition Research Network, 6(1), 88-98. Retrieved from

Zughoul, M. R., & Abdul-Fattah, H. (2003). Translational collocational strategies of Arab learners of English: A study in lexical semantics. Babel, 49(1), 59-81. doi:10.1075/babel.49.1.05zug



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright © 2015 - 2023. European Journal of English Language Teaching (ISSN 2501-7136) is a registered trademark of Open Access Publishing GroupAll rights reserved.

This journal is a serial publication uniquely identified by an International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) serial number certificate issued by Romanian National Library (Biblioteca Nationala a Romaniei). All the research works are uniquely identified by a CrossRef DOI digital object identifier supplied by indexing and repository platforms.

All the research works published on this journal are meeting the Open Access Publishing requirements and can be freely accessed, shared, modified, distributed and used in educational, commercial and non-commercial purposes under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).