PhD in Pedagogical science, Kuimova M.V.

National research Tomsk polytechnic university,

Tomsk, Russia

Sport collocations at English as a foreign language classes


Education ... is a painful, continual and difficult work to be done in kindness,

by watching, by warning, ... by praise,

but above all – by example.

John Ruskin


There is no doubt that vocabulary is the most important step in language acquisition. Thus a lecturer should use various interactive and interesting vocabulary exercises to make learning interesting and absorbing. In this paper we are going to give some advice how to teach sport collocations.

Collocation is an arrangement or juxtaposition of words or other elements, especially those that commonly co-occur, as rancid butter, bosom buddy, or dead serious [1].

The proper use of collocations has a number of advantages for language learners. Collocations:

  1. give the most natural way to say something;

  2. help express ideas more colourfully;

  3. help avoid repetition;

  4. improve and enrich oral and written speech.

There are several different types of collocation made from combinations of verb, noun, adjective, etc. Some of the most common types are:

  • adverb + adjective (deeply unpopular, consistently successful, entirely / totally unexpected, highly trained, highly technical, etc.);

  • adjective + noun (critical thinking, regular exercise, excruciating pain, brief chat, key issue, etc.);

  • noun + noun (a surge of anger, a surge of emotion, a sense of pride, a pang of nostalgia, package holiday, etc.);

  • noun + verb (lions roar, economy blooms, company grows, prices rise, ideas flow, etc.);

  • verb + noun (cultivate an interest, pay attention, keep an eye, make progress, feel remorse, take action, etc.);

  • verb + adverb (wave frantically, whisper softly, smile proudly, place gently,etc.).

It is worth mentioning three verbs that collocate with sports:

  • go (to go jogging, to go sailing, to go skiing, to go skating, to go snowboarding, to go cycling, to go windsurfing, to go bowling, to go hang-gliding, to go climbing, etc.);

  • do (to do gymnastics, to do karate, to do kun-fu, to do judo, to do yoga, to do archery, to do athletics, to do weightlifting, to do wrestling, to do circuit training, etc.);

  • play (to play tennis, to play football, to play basketball, to play baseball, to play chess, to play hockey, to play rugby, to play billiards, to play badminton, to play darts, etc.).

A lecturer should use diverse exercises while working with collocations. For example:

  • brainstorming;

  • practice from meaning to expression;

  • arrange the words in the correct order for the given collocations;

  • matching;

  • divide the collocations in the box into those that have a positive meaning and those that have negative collocations;

  • fill in the blanks (with / without options);

  • answer the questions;

  • complete the sentences;

  • correct the collocation errors in the given paragraph / text;

  • improve the style of the paragraph / letter by replacing the underlined words with the given collocations;

  • writing (using as many as possible collocations from the topic);

  • pair work;

  • games activities.

Teaching collocations a lecturer should use frequently used vocabulary that students encounter in daily life or in a particular professional sphere.

To master collocations students should not only learn and revise them but also read as much as possible. It is well-known that reading is an excellent way to learn vocabulary and collocations in the context. Moreover, a lecturer should always encourage students listen and watch authentic materials like songs, films, radio and TV programs, etc.


  1. The Free Online Dictionary. URL: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/collocation (accessed February 24, 2013).

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