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Polysemous English phrasal verbs: EFL textbook distribution, students' receptive and productive knowledge and teachers' beliefs in the Greek Cypriot context

Demetriou, Lizeta (2020) Polysemous English phrasal verbs: EFL textbook distribution, students' receptive and productive knowledge and teachers' beliefs in the Greek Cypriot context. PhD thesis, University of Essex.

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Abstract

Formulaic sequences such as idioms, collocations and phrasal verbs constitute an essential part of English vocabulary and a crucial element of foreign language learners’ communicative competence. While substantial research has been carried out on idioms and collocations comparatively fewer studies have focused on phrasal verbs despite the great difficulty, they possess to foreign language learners and although phrasal verbs are considered necessary for native-like fluency. This thesis aims to fill in this gap by exploring, i) phrasal verb distribution in English foreign language textbooks, ii) English language learners’ knowledge of phrasal verbs and iii) English foreign language teachers’ beliefs about phrasal verb learning and teaching. This first study examined the occurrence and recurrence of phrasal verbs in six English foreign language textbooks in order to shed some light in what seems to be an under-researched area. Research has shown that phrasal verbs are polysemous and can have more than one meaning sense. Gardner and Davies (2007) estimated that each of the 100 most frequently used phrasal verbs in the British National Corpus has on average 5.6 meaning senses, while, Garnier and Schmitt (2015) concluded that each of the 150 most frequently used phrasal verbs in the Corpus of Contemporary American English has on average two meaning senses. Nonetheless, no research, so far, explored the way the various phrasal verb meaning senses are treated in contemporary English foreign language textbooks. To fill in this gap, the first study, explored the distribution of phrasal verbs and their frequently used meaning senses (based on native speakers’ corpus indications) in the textbooks. The results of this study highlight the need for textbook writers to i) adopt a more scientific based and systematic selection process, taking into consideration the polysemous nature of phrasal verbs and ii) provide more opportunities for repetition, an essential component of vocabulary acquisition. The second study explored 100 English foreign language learners’ productive and receptive knowledge of a sample of high frequency phrasal verbs and phrasal verb meaning senses. Participants were tested at form-recall and form-recognition level of mastery and the effect of frequency (based on textbooks and corpus indications) and a number of language engagement factors on knowledge were examined. Twenty participants also took part in an interview to validate the form-recall test items. Results showed that participants had a rather weak knowledge of phrasal verbs. Consistent with previous findings the robust effect of frequency and engagement in leisure activities, such as reading and watching English films, was further supported. The third study investigated English foreign language teachers’ beliefs about phrasal verb teaching and learning. Following a qualitative approach, twenty teachers took part in semi-structured interviews in order to gain insights into their beliefs about phrasal verbs. Analysis of the results indicated that all teachers considered phrasal verbs to be one of the most challenging feature of English vocabulary. Nonetheless, conflicting results about phrasal verb importance were found, as non-native speaker teachers seemed to consider phrasal verbs a less important element of English vocabulary, while all native-speaker teachers stressed the importance of learning phrasal verbs. This study concluded that teachers’ beliefs about phrasal verbs were differentially affected by the numbers of teaching experience, L1 background and students’ proficiency level. Overall, the results of these studies stress the lack of foreign language learners’ phrasal verb knowledge and highlight the need for better treatment of this word combination in foreign language teaching contexts. My research results may prove useful, to second language researchers, textbook writers, and material designers as well as to foreign language teachers. It is hoped that polysemous phrasal verbs will receive more attention in the field of Applied Linguistics and future efforts will try to improve the quality of textbooks and provide foreign language teachers with the necessary support for phrasal verb teaching.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: phrasal verbs, polysemy, formulaic language, formulaic sequences
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
P Language and Literature > PE English
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities > Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities
Faculty of Social Sciences > Language and Linguistics, Department of
Depositing User: Lizeta Demetriou
Date Deposited: 28 Jul 2020 16:34
Last Modified: 28 Jul 2020 16:34
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/28337

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