“A Lexical Chunk is a unit of language which is made up of two or more words.
Here are a few examples of lexical chunks :
Nice to see you!
What’s the time?
Other lexical chunks can include phrasal verbs, idioms, collocations and so on.
Lexical chunks are the common coinage of English. They’re the bread and butter, the everyday and the mundane. They’re the reliable standards around which we can hang poetic and emotive language.
- “Language chunks are definitely one of the main ingredients of successful transition to the advanced levels of English. They’re what sets apart one language from the other, what makes each language distinct and unique. Noticing language chunks is a skill that needs to be well-developed by the intermediate level of English. If a student is unable to recognize common phrases and word combinations, s/he’ll stay at his/her current level and will never make it to the advanced stages.
- The following are commonly referred to as language chunks :
- Collocations are phrases that consist of words that recurrently co-occur together (derived from Latin locare ‘to locate’ and cum ‘together; introduced in 30s by John R. Frith).
- dual citizenship but double occupancy
above zero but over 10 years (experience)
shipwreck but car accident
cut hair but trim hedge
- other terminology:
- ‘prefabricated chunks’, ‘phraseological units’, ‘multi-word combinations’
- Idioms are expressions which meaning cannot be understood from the meanings of its component parts (derived from Latin ‘idioma’ – special property).
I’d like to share an interesting article I read on the site New Indian Express
Learn Vocabulary in Chunks and not in Isolation
In traditional classrooms, the focus has always been on teaching words in isolation. As a result, learners know the meanings of many words but they do not know how to use the words appropriately in context. Of late, enhancing learners’ knowledge of chunks of language is emphasised.
What are chunks? Chunks are groups of words or fixed expressions. When we speak or write, we use a lot of phrases, such as by the way, for example, as a result, on the other hand, a kind of, a lot of, at the moment, I mean, you know, at the end of the day, etc. These groups of words or phrases are called chunks of language. Why should learners be taught words in chunks? Research has proved that those who learn vocabulary in chunks learn a language better than those who learn words in isolation. Learners retain vocabulary better when they learn chunks.
Michael Lewis, known for advocating the lexical approach to language teaching, says that native speakers of any language have memorised hundreds of chunks to produce fluent and accurate speech. It is important to expose learners to real communication or authentic speech exchanges in order to help them develop their communication skills.
Knowledge of individual words is essential but what is more important and useful is the knowledge of how to use the words in appropriate contexts. Take the word ‘take’ for example. This word has over a hundred different meanings though the basic meaning is ‘to move something or somebody from one place to another’.
When ‘take’ collocates with different nouns, the meaning of ‘take’ in each ‘take+noun’ collocation is different. Look at these examples: take a bus, take a minute, take a test, take advice, take steps, take offense, take pity, take cover, take heart, take the axe to. Here are the meanings of some of the above ‘take’ collocations:
• take offence: to feel upset because of something someone has said or done
• take pity: to show sympathy for someone because they are in a bad situation
• take the axe to something: to make drastic cuts, particularly in workforce
In the English language there are many phrases and idioms in which the word ‘all’ is part of them. Here are some of the set phrases with ‘all’ and their meanings:
• all balled up: stuck or confused…
• all day long: during the length of the entire day…
• all set: ready: prepared
• all shot to hell: broken; damaged
• all skin and bones: too thin
Chunks appear in many ways: as collocations and idioms, in set phrases (good luck, all the best) and in ‘discourse markers’ (‘as far as I know, by the way).
Source : New Indian Express – Education