So, she had taught in Vietnam for two years (and France) but now Spain is lucky enough to have her. She works in Alcobendas (all I actually know about that city is their handball and volleyball teams). According to the biodata she "completed the Delta and is particularly interested in collocation, learner autonomy and classroom management with young learners."
This is the powerpoint she used during her presentation.
Her chat basically talked about how ESL learners tend to say things that are grammatically correct but would never be said since they are the wrong collocation. Some examples:
We don't say: hard meat We say: tough meat
We don't say: quick food We say: fast food
We don't say: a fast meal We say: a quick meal
They come in many different forms:
Adjective+Noun like above
Adverb + Adjective richly decorated (not richly painted)
Noun + Noun loaf of break (not bar of bread)
Noun + Verb builds a nest (not assembles a nest)
Verb + Noun Make progress (not do progress)
Verb + Expression With Preposition burst into tears (not appear into tears)
Verb + Adverb Whispered softly (not whispered quietly)
There are two things to look at with collocations (Strength and Frequency). Collocations are important because they help student make predictions based on text (without having fully read it).
Example: It's the opportunity of a ...
Most people will guess lifetime, that's because this is a strong frequent collocation.
Collocations are useful because: predictions are useful and a real life activity (we don't actually listen to every word people day we fill in the gaps, chunks of language are more memorable than individual words, students fluency is increased as the language tends to sound more natural, and it can reduce the amount of direct translation a student uses.
She went on to give some practical ideas for using collocations in class:
Having a chart where students check off collocations that make sense (a super small example):
Food Shower Meal
Quick NO YES YES
Fast YES NO NO
Do a prediction with a text and then listen to it (focus on collocations)
The PowerPoint lists a few others as well.