sexta-feira, 6 de agosto de 2010

Chunks of language

Text written based on the material sent by Denilso de Lima, after his presentation at Braz-Tesol Convention.

What are Chunks of Language?
A sequence of words which native speakers recognize as the natural and better way of expressing a particular idea.

Are there Chunks in Portuguese?
Yes, there are. Actually, every language has chunks of language. Some examples in Portuguese: ficar de olhos bem abertos, não faço a menor ideia, abrir o apetite, só dei uma olhada rápida.

Why are they important?
The three main reasons we have are: [1] The brain stores more sequences of words than isolated words; [2] Because of chunks we’re able to speak and write fluently; and, [3] Knowing lots of chunks also makes listening and reading easier as well.

What kind of chunks we have?
There are lots of kinds. You don’t have to know all of them. Not even your students. But some of them are:
Institutionalised expressions: Thank you very much / You’re welcome / How are you doing? / What’s up? / You see what I mean.
Idioms: kick the bucket / be in deep water / hit the sack / pass the buck
Sentence heads frames: What’s your [...]? / What’s your [...] like? / I feel like [...] / That’s not as [...] as you think.
Collocations: stiff bill / slam the door / dream about dream of / make a mistake / do the homework.
Polywords phrasal verbs: as a matter of fact / upside down / inside out / get up [early late].
Discourse markers: if you ask me / by the way / to top it off.../ to cut a long story short.../ what’s more...
Read more

How can we teach chunks?
Before teaching chunks we’d better learn how to find them. Or... As we prefer to say: NOTICE them, especially by reading.

How can learners remember chunks?
Students must be encouraged to organize their own Lexical Notebook.