Why is it important to learn words in chunks?

According to Neuroscience research, it is easier for us to remember lexical chunks than isolated words
Representational Image
Representational Image

Which is more important while learning a language — grammar or vocabulary? Some modern language teaching experts are of the view that grammar is less important than vocabulary. If vocabulary is more important than grammar, what are the effective ways of learning vocabulary? According to Michael Lewis, the focus of learning a new language should be on learning vocabulary. He believes that the ‘largest bulk involved in learning a new language is the vocabulary, and more specifically, vocabulary chunks’. The term ‘chunk’ refers to a group of connected words that are treated as single concepts. Here are examples of chunks: on the other hand, at the moment, as a result, and first of all. Language chunks are also known as lexical phrases and collocations.

Why is it important to learn words in chunks? According to Neuroscience research, it is easier for us to remember lexical chunks than isolated words. So, a good way of learning a language is through learning collocations. When a learner comes across a new word, they should know the words that collocate with the new word. In that way, it is easy to remember the word and use it effectively in different communication situations. For example, the adjectives that collocate with the verb ‘attack’ include brutal, frenzied, horrific, savage, serious, vicious, violent, racist and sexual. The verbs that collocate with ‘attack’ include carry out, launch, come under, suffer, repel, repulse, resist, survive and withstand. The common phrases with the word ‘attack’ include a victim of an attack, a line of attack, and open to attack.

One of the most used words in India during the past week was ‘emergency’. On June 26, almost all national TV channels in India debated the 43rd anniversary of the imposition of the Emergency. There were scores of articles on the Emergency in mainstream English and regional language newspapers. There were hundreds of posts on the topic on social media. #Emergency, #Emergency1975, #PMEmergencyWar, #UndeclaredEmergency and #ModiEmergencyAttack were trending hashtags on Twitter. As I took part in various online discussion forums, I had the opportunity to read many thought-provoking articles, posts, comments and tweets on Emergency. I noticed many useful collocations associated with the word ‘emergency’ and some other words. 
Here are some of the top collocations:

to impose Emergency, imposition of 
to proclaim Emergency, proclamation 
of Emergency
 to declare a state of emergency, declaration of Emergency,
 authoritarian tendency
 to invoke the Constitution
 to establish supremacy
 to sink into darkness
 to suspend constitutional rights
 to withdraw freedom of speech and the press
 to come down heavily on protesters
 the emergence of a threat
 to hold on to a position
 to draft an ordinance

Anyone who wants to speak on the topic of ‘emergency’ should be familiar with the collocations above. Here are some authentic examples of how the collocations have been used in sentences/phrases:

 “The President has proclaimed Emergency. There is nothing to panic about.” 
– Indira Gandhi
 The 43rd anniversary of the imposition of the Emergency...
 Indira Gandhi invoked the Constitution to impose the Emergency.
 Because of their irrepressible urge to establish absolute supremacy...
 The proclamation of Emergency was signed by President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed.
 Soon after, newspaper presses across Delhi sank into darkness as a power cut ensured that nothing could be printed for the next two days.
 The constitutional rights were suspended and freedom of speech and the press withdrawn.
 The months preceding the declaration of Emergency were fraught with economic troubles.
 While JP accepted Indira Gandhi’s challenge to face her in the general elections and formed the National Coordination 
Committee, Gandhi soon imposed the 

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