Phrase-frames in Low- and Intermediate-level EFL Learners’ Essays: Variability, Structures, and Functions
A recent trend in formulaic language research has been investigating phrase-frames, which are discontinuous formulaic sequences with a variable slot. The current study aims to investigate the phrase-frames used by low- and intermediate-level learners of English as a foreign language (EFL). The phrase-frames are extracted from a self-compiled learner writing corpus across nine grades, and they are analyzed in terms of their variability, structures, and functions. The results show that as learners studied for more years, they would use phrase-frames that are more variable. Besides, they would use phrase-frames of different structures more flexibly, especially function word frames, and use phrase-frames for more varied functions. Through the research into the characteristics of phrase-frames and discussion about the reasons behind the differences between groups, this study contributes to a more comprehensive understanding of formulaic language development in low- and intermediate-level EFL learners and provides some insights into formulaic language teaching.