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Volume 7 Number 3, Autumn 2010, Pages 1-187   

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Collocation and Idiom Problems in Secondary Pupils' Writing in Brunei Darussalam

    Alex Henry, Alistair Wood, Adrian Clynes and Malai Ayla Surya Malai Hj Abdullah

Through his work in corpus linguistics, Sinclair (1991) postulated two types of language production. In the first, the 'open choice' principle, each word produced carries independent meaning. The second principle, the 'idiom principle', is based on the notion that the choice of one particular word is responsible for the choice of other words in the immediate environment. This paper looks at the writing of a variety of text types of a wide range of pupils in the bilingual Bruneian secondary school system, and makes use of Sinclair's principles to describe the transitional stages of their language development from learner English to their target, Standard British English. The results show that language produced by the idiom principle such as phrasal verbs, even common ones, is likely to be problematic for many pupils. Secondly, idioms and strong collocations may be problematic for all pupils including those with very advanced English. Based on these results, the paper offers recommendations for classroom methods and materials based on some of the principles of language awareness.

Keywords: corpus, idiomaticity, pupils' writing, collocation, language awareness