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A quantitative study of Swedish high school L2 learners' receptive knowledge of English lexical collocations


  • Louise Frifelt

Summary, in Swedish

This paper investigates receptive knowledge of English lexical collocations among Swedish high school students. The study tests the claim that L2 (second language) learners of English have a low level of collocational competence and tend to recognise high-frequent collocations more than low-frequent since the former have been encountered more. The target items for this study consisted of 40 collocations with various frequencies and combinations of Verb+Noun (V+N) and Adjective+Noun (V+N) since previous research indicates that the
latter is even more difficult for L2 learners.
The participants were 56 high school students, L2 learners of English, between the ages of 16-19 from Malmö and Lund in southern Sweden. They were instructed to fill out a questionnaire in a form recognition format, i.e. multiple-choice, where they were tasked to pick the most natural combination of words in English out of three alternatives.
The results showed an advanced level of receptive collocation knowledge among Swedish upper secondary pupils, with a mean score of 73,1%. A possible explanation could be that Swedish pupils are highly proficient in English and spend a considerable amount of time on Extramural English (EE), since vocabulary is given lower priority in the syllabus.
In addition, the pupils also displayed higher knowledge of V+N than Adj+N collocations. On top of that, the students also knew high frequent collocations to a greater extent than low-frequent collocations, generally and within both structures (V+N and Adj+N).
Another purpose of this essay was to examine the relation of speaking, listening, reading and writing with collocation knowledge. The findings suggested a possible connection between collocational competence and reading and writing. Further research within this aspect is recommended.


Publishing year




Document type

Student publication for Bachelor's degree


  • Languages and Literatures


  • Collocations
  • Multi-word units
  • Formulaic language
  • Second language acquisition


  • Henrik Gyllstad (Dr)