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THE USE OF ACADEMIC VOCABULARY AND WORDS COLLOCATION

IN UNDERGRADUATES WRITTEN ASSIGNMENTS

SITI SALWANI SAAD

This project is submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for a

Bachelor of Science with Honours

TESL

Faculty of Cognitive Sciences and Human Development

UNIVERSITI MALAYSIA SARAWAK

(2009)

The project entitled The use of Academic Vocabulary and Words Collocation in

Undergraduates Written Assignments was prepared by Siti Salwani bt. Saad and

submitted to the Faculty of Cognitive Sciences and Human Development in partial

fulfillment of the requirements for a Bachelor of Science with Honours TESL.

Received for examination by:

-----------------------------------

(Dr. Shanthi Nadarajan)

Date:

----------------------------------

Gred

Statement of Originality

The work described in this Final Year Project, entitled

The use of Academic Vocabulary and Words Collocation in Undergraduates Written

Assignments

is to the best of the authors knowledge that of the author except

where due reference is made.

__________________ ___________________

Siti Salwani Saad

15301

iii

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

First of all, glory to Allah S.W.T. the Almighty for His blessings in supporting

me to complete this project and because of Him I am able to come this far.

I would like to thank the following persons who have been assisting and supporting

me in completing this project:

1. Dr. Shanthi Nadarajan, my supervisor, for the valuable advice, guidance and encouragement she has given me which enabled me to successfully complete this

project.

2. All the EPP students who involved in this research which without them I would never have completed this project.

3. My family, who has always been with me through good and bad time. Thank you for the love and support.

4. My friends, especially TESL 4 students who went through the same process as me in completing the final year projects. Thank you for the help and advices. May

Allah bless all of you.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

Acknowledgements

Table of Contents

List of Figures

List of Tables

List of Abbreviations

Abstract

Abstrak

CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION

1.0 Chapter Overview 1.1 Introduction 1.2 Background of the Study 1.3 Statement of Problem 1.4 Aim and Objectives of the Study 1.5 Research Questions 1.6 Significance of the Study 1.7 Operational Definition of Terms

1.7.1 Academic words 1.7.2 Sublist 1 1.7.3 Word collocation 1.7.4 Corpus

1.8 Scope of the Study

CHAPTER 2 - LITERATURE REVIEW

2.0 Chapter Overview 2.1 Academic Vocabulary 2.2 Coxheads Academic Word List (AWL) 2.3 The importance of academic vocabulary 2.4 Word collocation in academic writing 2.5 The production of academic word collocation among L2 learners 2.6 Corpora and language teaching in EAP 2.7 Summary

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CHAPTER 3 - RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

3.0 Chapter Overview 3.1 Research Design 3.2 Sample Texts 3.3 Instrument for Data Collection

3.3.1 VocabProfile 3.3.2 TEXTstat

3.4 Data Collection Procedures 3.5 Data Analysis

3.5.1 Research question 1 3.5.2 Research question 2 and 3 3.5.3 Research question 4

3.6 Limitation of the Study 3.7 Chapter Review

CHAPTER 4 FINDINGS AND DISCUSSION

4.0 Chapter Preview 4.1 Objective 1: Percentage of Academic Words used in the

undergraduates academic texts.

4.1.1 Comparison between texts with the highest and the lowest percentages of AW used.

4.2 Objective 2: Academic Word Collocation 4.2.1 Two-word recurrent patterns 4.2.2 Three-word recurrent patterns

4.3 Objective 3: Type of Words that collocate with the AW (Functional words or Content words)

4.4 Discussion 4.4.1 The use of AW among undergraduates 4.4.2 The repetition of recurrent patterns of the academic

words used by the undergraduates

4.4.3 Types of words used as the collocation of the academic words

4.5 Summary

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CHAPTER 5 CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION

5.0 Chapter Overview 5.1 Summary 5.2 Implications of the Findings 5.3 Recommendation for Future Research 5.4 Conclusions

REFERENCES

APPENDICES

Appendix A Sublist 1 of the Academic Word List

Appendix B Sample Texts

Appendix C Example of raw data in determining the percentages of

academic words using VocabProfile

Appendix D Sample concordances produced by TextSTAT

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LIST OF FIGURES

Figure 1

Page

Output layout of VocabProfile 26

Figure 2

Example of concordances produce by TextSTAT

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Figure 3

Steps in creating the corpus

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Figure 4

Steps in analyzing the data

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Figure 5

Percentages of AW used in the undergraduates academic writing

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Figure 6

Percentages of AW used by the pure science students in their

academic writing

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LIST OF TABLES

Table 1

Page

Example of an academic word and its collocation 15

Table 2

Rank order of most frequently expressed specific needs for ESL

writing course

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Table 3

The number of texts and running words analyzed in the corpus

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Table 4

Comparison on the percentages of K1, K2 and AWL used in the

texts

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Table 5

AW identified and word collocation

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Table 6

Percentages of types of words used as collocation

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LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS

AW Academic Word

GSL General Service List

AWL Academic Word List

L2 Second Language

K1 First 1000 words

K2 First 2000 words

UNIMAS Universiti Malaysia Sarawak

EPP English for Professional Purposes

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ABSTRACT

THE USE OF ACADEMIC VOCABULARY AND WORDS COLLOCATION IN

UNDERGRADUATES WRITTEN ASSIGNMENTS

Siti Salwani Saad

This study aims to determine the use of academic words and their collocation in

UNIMAS undergraduates academic written texts. Coxheads (1998) AWL was used

in identifying the academic words. There are three objectives of this study which are

1) determine the percentage of AW used in the undergraduates academic writing, 2)

identify the words that collocate with the AW identified in the undergraduates

academic writing 3) analyze the type of words (content words or functional) used by

science background undergraduate as collocation of the AW identified in the

undergraduates academic writing. The corpus comprised of academic texts written

by EPP students which are reports based on their own mini research. The texts were

retrieved from the repository and analyzed using a web-based analysis tool

VocabProfile and concordance software, TextSTAT. The results showed that the

use of academic words among the undergraduates still needs to be improved in order

for them to produce a better academic text. However, as L2 learners, their repertoires

of word collocation are a bit restricted and they tend use the same pattern over and

over again to avoid errors. The percentage of functional words used is relatively high

compared to content words. It affects the quality of the academic texts by making the

text sound less formal. Nevertheless, the undergraduates are aware of some of the

stylistic of academic text such as the use of more passive voice compared to active

voice.

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ABSTRAK

PENGGUNAAN PERBENDAHARAAN KATA AKADEMIK DAN KOLOKASI DI

KALANGAN PRASISWAZAH DALAM PENULISAN AKADEMIK

Siti Salwani Saad

Kajian ini bertujuan untuk mengkaji penggunaan perbendaharaan kata akademik dan

kolokasi dalam penulisan akademik pelajar prasiswazah di UNIMAS. Kajian ini

menggunakan AWL Coxhead (1998) sebagai panduan untuk mengenal pasti

perbendaharaan kata akademik. Kajian ini mempunyai tiga objektif iaitu 1)

menentukan peratusan perbendaharaan kata akademik yang digunakan dalam

penulisan akademik pelaj