March 2011 – Volume 14, Number 4
Collocations Extra: Multi-level Activities for Natural English
|Elizabeth Walter and Kate Woodford (2010)
|Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
|Pp. x + 126
Collocations Extra is a part of the Cambridge Copy Collection, a series of books from Cambridge University Press containing photocopiable activities and lessons for language teachers. This title provides lots of opportunities for communicative practice in English while helping students pick up useful chunks and collocations. Each unit of the book covers a theme, such as everyday activities, work or travel, commonly found in coursebooks. The units all have three activities, one activity each for elementary/pre-intermediate, intermediate, and advanced levels. The suggested time for each activity ranges from 35 minutes to 1 hour. The 54 activities consist of photocopiable handouts and teacher’s notes, which are accompanied by step-by-step instructions, including a warm-up and one or more optional follow-ups.
There is also a map of the book, which gives the reader a clear picture of the layout of the book, including activity type and example collocations. This is followed by a very brief introduction that explains the format of the activities.
One of this book’s strengths is that is shows practical ways to get students to use collocations. Each activity cleverly puts collocations into familiar contexts that will help students assimilate them better. For example, in Unit 13, Activity 13.1 titled “Leaving home”, students briefly tell a partner about their current home and where they lived before. Then they read a short paragraph about a girl who left home to attend university and fill in blanks to complete collocations. This is followed by a series of personal questions that students can ask each other, after choosing the correct word that completes a collocation. Finally, students are asked to record the collocations they picked up in the activity. Giving students opportunities to personalize the collocations makes learning them more rewarding than simply asking them to memorize a list.
Another positive feature of this book is the variety of activities. A quick look at the map of the book shows a rich assortment of tasks, such as reading, discussion, story telling, surveys, board games, writing, jigsaw reading, ordering texts, crosswords, role plays, questionnaires, and mime. Quite a few of the activities include images which may appeal to visual learners.
One more remarkable feature is the CD-ROM included with the book. This CD-ROM allows teachers to quickly create slips of paper with the collocations on them for extended practice. All a teacher needs to do is choose a unit and a level, and then pick out which collocations they want to work with. Next, teachers can quickly produce a worksheet with their chosen collocations, which can be used to play Dominoes, Pelmanism or What’s the Collocation?, three simple games explained on the CD-ROM.
Overall, I was very impressed with Collocations Extra. I used Activity 4.2 Wanted! with a grammar course I taught earlier this year. Students enjoyed learning such colorful collocations as chubby cheeks and bushy eyebrows. They had fun matching the descriptions with the pictures on the handout, then writing out their own descriptions.
However, I was somewhat disappointed by the book’s introduction. While the introduction gives a clear overview of the book, it provides no background information on collocations. A few definitions of collocations and chunks, some explanations on why students need to learn collocations, and a summary of the literature on collocation in language teaching would have strengthened the introduction significantly. I also felt that the CD-ROM could have included listening tracks, so that learners could hear the proper pronunciation of the collocations in a monologue or conversation. This could help students develop listening comprehension as well as expand their knowledge of collocations.
Ultimately, Collocations Extra is a well-organized, easy-to-use resource book for teachers, especially teachers who want to emphasize collocations in their classes.
Kainan University, Taiwan
© Copyright rests with authors. Please cite TESL-EJ appropriately.
Editor’s Note: The HTML version contains no page numbers. Please use the PDF version of this article for citations.