Collocation: the other key to IELTS 7 (1 of 8): Introduction to Collocation

By | October 31, 2017

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Collocation: the other key to IELTS 7 (1 of 8): Introduction to Collocation

Okay everyone, it’s time (once again) to return to collocation. But let me begin by (re)introducing this concept. Let’s look at the public version of the IELTS Band Descriptors. These state that for your Writing Vocabulary Mark …

Band 7: Uses less common words with some awareness of style and collocation.

Band 8: Skillfully uses words but there may be occasional inaccuracies in word choice and collocation.

Notice the word, ‘collocation’. So, what does it mean? Collocation means putting together groups of words in accepted and stylish way. For example, in English, we don’t usually say …

big rain,

big damage,

big wind,

… as you do in Chinese. In English, it is much better to say …

heavy rain,

serious damage,

strong wind.

Looking at verbs, we don’t usually say …

make heavy rain,

make serious damage,

make strong wind.

It does depend on the situation, but it would be better to say …

create heavy rain,

inflict serious damage,

generate strong wind.

All the words must fit together well – they must ‘mesh’, just like the jigsaw piece in the picture at the top of this post. By the way, I have already presented some very useful material on collocation on my website. Click Teacher Andrew’s website: Good Collocation to see that.

Students mostly do not collocate words very well (which is why they don’t receive IELTS 7 or 8). Bad IELTS material encourages students to memorise wordy phrases that no native writer would ever produce, and which often don’t make sense (for example, one student wrote: ‘concluding theories representing the solution can be portrayed in detail’). The collocation is strange, and the word choice weird.

So, collocation is important, but it is not so easy – but it is the key to getting a higher IELTS Writing and Speaking score. The exercises to help you with this will begin in the next post.

Author: Andrew

Andrew Guilfoyle Cambridge CELTA, Cambridge DELTA, Cambridge CELTA teacher-trainer, M.Ed