Examining Novices' Selection of Lexical Bundles: The Case of EFL Postgraduate Students in Applied Linguistics

Hassan Jalali


Previous research shows that part of mastering a given genre is correct, adequate, and appropriate use of a set of word combinations called chunks, clusters, and/or lexical bundles as these word combinations serve important discourse functions and are for the most part peculiar to and characteristic of a disciplinary field. While some few previous studies have demonstrated that even native speaker educated students may find it difficult to use these word sequences properly and sufficiently in their written academic production as compared with experts' choices, almost no work has been done to examine the extent to which EFL students are able to discriminate between different bundles and choose them appropriately. Using a reading measure of selecting word sequences which was administered to  a group of EFL postgraduate students in applied linguistics, this study showed that in many cases, students' choices of these word combinations did not match those of  experts. This finding suggests that such students who might still be novice members of their field were likely to encounter serious difficulties later in adhering to preferred accepted writing practices of the discipline especially when they would want to get their voices heard in a high-stake genre like research article. The paper closes with some pedagogical implications as well as suggestions for further research.


applied linguistics, lexical bundles, postgraduate students, selection reading task

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