viernes, 1 de febrero de 2013

Something to say about: collocations

A very important area of learning a language is the correct use of vocabulary in the right contexts, specially the combinations that form fixed phrases, that is: collocations. To a native of Spanish, some word combinations sound right but for the native English folk they don´t. And literal translations don´t help much!!! Take for example the Spanish phrase “tomar el pelo”. We know the corresponding phrase is “pull someone ´s leg”, but if you want to translate it word by word, the result is at least confusing if not really bluffing.
The point is, vocabulary is a hard cookie, and we teachers need to inform ourselves before we “teach” something misleading like “take vacations”. Happily, and conveniently enough for us, the Internet has very good resources we could call “virtual donkey killers” (just kidding, the phrase is an invention). Among them, we can find dictionaries and thesaurus. However, the tool I have found extremely useful to clear any doubts (like the one on “take vacations”) is the Collocations Dictionary. Here you can enter a word and in return the dictionary will give you the possible word combinations, or collocations.
Have a field trip using the dictionary…and learning more.