I think this bears repeating:
"What: Miller (1956) introduced the concept of “chunking” in his paper entitled The magical number seven, plus or minus two. Chunking refers to a strategy for making more efficient use of short-term memory by breaking down large amounts of information into smaller chunks. Chase and Simon (1973) suggested that the capacity of short-term (working) memory is limited to seven items, or chunks,
hence the formula 7 ± 2."
"Even though it is believed that short-term memory is limited to seven items only, the notion of vocabulary items or chunk varies. Chunking can mean both the breaking down of large amounts of information as well as grouping small chunks into larger categories. It does not necessarily mean that our mind can process only seven words at a time. A chunk can represent seven sentences, seven verses, or seven lines."
"Why: The ability to break large language chunks into smaller ones, and to group small chunks into larger ones extends the process of retention of information and allows for greater compression of information in working memory (Kalivoda, 1981). Such compression enhances the limited capacity of working memory and allows the learner to retain more information."
"How: Arranging vocabulary into semantic clusters of seven to ten related items rather than presenting a list of unrelated words in isolation will enhance retention.
The Essentials of Vocabulary Teaching: From Theory to Practice
And now, a study!
The Frequency and Use of Lexical Bundles in Conversation and Academic Prose
"Even before the use of computer-assisted techniques in lexicography and linguistics, schol-
ars interested in language use recognized the importance of recurring patterns. Firth (1957,
195) noted that patterns in the surrounding context were important for understanding the
meaning of a word, stating “you shall know a word by the company it keeps”. In looking at
the social functions of language, Hymes (1968, 126) claimed that “a vast portion of verbal
behavior … consists of recurrent patterns, of linguistic routines”. Branches of lexicology,
too, for decades have investigated the status of multi-word units (see review in Moon 1997,
48–50). Nevertheless, lexicography continues to emphasize the individual word as the basic
unit of discourse. The very fact that dictionaries are arranged by individual head words
gives primacy to the individual word, and suggests that phrases and clauses of a language
are built from these individual units. "
Identification and frequency counts of lexical bundles
We define lexical bundles as the most frequent recurring fixed lexical sequences in a regis-
ter. The more common a lexical bundle, the more useful it would appear to be in building
discourse, but precisely where to set a frequency cut-off is somewhat arbitrary. We give an overall summary of the frequency of 3- and 4-word lexical bundles considering bundles
with a frequency of at least 10 per million words in the register...
The fact that most of the lexical bundles are not structurally complete has likely con-
tributed to their being overlooked in previous research, since traditionally linguists have
focused on grammatical phrases and clauses, rather than lexical units that cut across gram-
matical structures. Furthermore, most of the bundles are quite transparent in meaning. As
such, they have also been overlooked by researchers who consider idiomaticity a require-
ment for language that is non-compositional, although there is no reason that semantically
transparent sequences could not also be processed as whole chunks (see further Erman/
Warren 2000, 54).
Although the majority of words do not occur within recurrent sequences in either con-
versation or academic prose, the frequency and functions of lexical bundles demonstrate
that speakers and writers use them regularly in building discourse. While much further
study is needed—particularly from a psycholinguistic perspective and in more registers—lexical bundles already deserve attention in thorough lexicographic descriptions...
Considering the structures that account for at least 10% of the 4-word bundles in each
register illustrates the contrast between the registers. (The Longman Grammar, chapter 13,
provides a complete review of the structures.) Three structural types account for almost
70% of the 4-word bundles in conversation (Table 2), and all three include a verb. However, these structures account for only a negligible proportion of the bundles in academic
prose. Rather, over 60% of the 4-word bundles in academic prose are covered by two
structural types that incorporate noun phrase components; these structures account for only
about 7% of the bundles in conversation...
The difference in lexical bundle structures between the registers is consistent with word,
phrase and clause category differences between these registers generally. Conversation
tends to have more verbs, more personal pronouns, and more questions, while academic
prose has more nouns and prepositional phrases (Longman Grammar, chapters 2, 8, 14).
More importantly, these structural differences reflect differences in the functions that the
bundles serve. The structures typical of conversation are used for more personal expres-
sions, particularly expressions of attitudes and desires, with bundles such as I don’t know
what or you want me to. The structures typical of academic prose are useful for specifying
aspects of information with bundles such as the nature of the, the extent to which, and as a
result of. These functional differences provide greater insight into lexical bundles’ role in
The function of common lexical bundles in conversation
The functional types of bundles that are common in conversation reflect the communicative
purposes and contexts of typical conversation in British English—a focus on interaction
and conveying personal thoughts and attitudes, and the concern for politeness and not im-
posing on others. The most striking aspect of conversation’s use of lexical bundles is the
high proportion of personal stance expressions. They are used for epistemic stance (usually
expressing lack of certainty or knowledge); expressing personal desires and inquiring into
others’ desires; directing others, releasing them from obligations, or inquiring into one’s
own obligations; and discussing intentions. Examples include:
I don’t know how you got on that list. [epistemic stance]
I don’t want to go by myself. [attitude/modality—desire]
You sure you want to go? [attitude/modality—desire]
As soon as you’ve finished just go, you don’t have to stay for your full three hours, nobody’s
gonna know [attitude/modality-obligation/directive]
A: She can’t cope.
B: Oh dear. What are we going to do now then? [attitude/modality—intention/prediction]
1 In some cases, 4-word bundles are parts of 5-word or 6-word bundles (e.g. at the end of and the
end of the are both part of at the end of the). These longer bundles are far less common and, for brevity, are not covered here...https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source= ... aIIOSh-xTw
Investigating the usefulness
of lexical phrases in contemporary
Investigating the usefulness
of lexical phrases in contemporary
Over the past decade, lexical theory, corpus statistics, and psycholinguistic
research have pointed to the pedagogical value of lexical phrases. In response,
commercial publishers have been quick to import these insights into their
materials in a bid to accommodate consumers and to profit from the ‘lexical
chunk’ phenomenon. Contemporary British coursebooks now routinely offer a
generous and diverse mix of multi-word lexical items: collocations, compounds,
idioms, phrasal verbs, binomials, fixed and semi-fixed expressions. But while
designers have been enthusiastic about adding chunks to the syllabus, the
process of selecting items has been highly subjective and conducted without
reference to corpus data. By analyzing the usefulness of lexical phrases in three
contemporary coursebooks, this paper offers a lexical profile of the items
specified for each course. It is shown that nearly a quarter of the multi-word
lexical items specified may be of limited pedagogic value to learners...https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source= ... oKwLhTcwCQ