The Applicability of Teaching Lexical Bundles on Medical Students' Writing Proficiency in an EFL Context

Document Type : Original Article


1 Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran, Iran

2 English Department, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran

3 Kish International Campus, University of Tehran, Iran


This study aimed at investigating the applicability of teaching lexical bundles to the writing performance of medical students in an EFL context.  Four components of the writing proficiency, namely Task Response (TR), Lexical Resource (LR), Grammatical Range and Accuracy (GRA) and Cohesion & Coherence (CC), were investigated with regard to the effect of teaching lexical bundles.  Thirty medical students in the preclinical stage at Shiraz University of Medical Sciences participated and the study was performed through a two-phase procedure. In the first phase, paragraph and essay writing principles were taught after a pretest.  The posttest was administered following the treatment. Data were analyzed through T test. The results of the first phase indicated that all components except GRA changed significantly. In the second phase, the students were introduced and exposed to four-word lexical bundles extracted from the medical corpus. Having access to the corpus analysis software, the students could explore the corpus and learn the lexical bundles contextually. They were also given the list of lexical bundles for explicit exposure and were guided to use them appropriately in their writing assignments. The essays assigned following the lexical bundle teaching were regarded as the posttest of the second phase while the posttest of the first phase was regarded as the pretest of the second phase. Data analysis revealed that LR changed significantly and the students were able to benefit from lexical bundles to improve their LR that enabled them to write more naturally and use collocations more appropriately. Students, writing instructors, syllabus designers, and material developers can best benefit from the findings of the present study.


Bagheri, M. S., & Riasati, M. J. (2016). EFL graduate students' IELTS writing problems and students and teacher's beliefs regarding writing skill improvement. Journal of Language Teaching and Research, 7(1), 198-209.
Biber, D., & Barbieri, F. (2007). Lexical bundles in university spoken and written registers. English for Specific Purposes, 26(3), 263-286.
Breeze, R. (2013). Lexical bundles across four legal genres. International Journal of Corpus Linguistics, 18(2), 229-253.
Bruce, I. (2005). Syllabus design for general EAP writing course: A cognitive approach. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 4(3), 239-250.
Byrd, P., & Coxhead, A. (2010). On the other hand: Lexical bundles in academic writing and in the teaching of EAP. University of Sydney Papers in TESOL, 5, 31-64.
Charles, M. (2003). This mystery: A corpus-based study of the use of nouns to construct stance in theses from two contrasting disciplines”. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 2(4), 313-326.
Cortes, V. (2006). Teaching lexical bundles in the disciplines: An example from a writing intensive history class. Linguistics and Education, 17, 391-406.
Dontcheva-navaratilova, O. (2012). Lexical bundles in academic texts by non-native speakers. Brno Studies in English, 38(2) 37-58.
Duin, A.H., & Graves, M.F. (1987). Intensive vocabulary instruction as a prewriting technique. Reading Research Quarterly, 22, 311–330.
Eidian, F., Gorjian, B., & Aghvami, F. (2013). The impact of lexical collocation instruction on developing writing skill among EFL learners. International Journal of Learning and Applied Linguistics World, 4(3), 273-283.
Ferguson, G. (2001). If you pop over there: A corpus-based study of conditionals in medical discourse. English for Specific Purposes, 20, 61-82.
Flower, L., & Hayes, J.R. (1981). A cognitive process theory of writing. College Composition and Communication, 32, 365–387.
Hayes, D.P., & Ahrens, M. (1988). Vocabulary simplification for children: A special case of 'motherese'? Journal of Child Language, 15,395-410.
Hunston, S. (1995). A corpus study of some English verbs of attribution. Functions of Language, 2, 133–158.
Hyland, K. (2008a). As can be seen: Lexical bundles and disciplinary variation. English for Specific Purposes, 27, 4-21.
Hyland, K. (2008b). Academic clusters: Text patterning in published and postgraduate writing. International Journal of Applied Linguistics, 18(1), 41-62.
Kazemi, M., Katiraei, S., & Rasekh, A. E. (2014). The impact of teaching lexical bundles on improving Iranian EFL students' writing skill. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 98, 864-869.
Lee, D., & Swales, J. (2006). A corpus-based EAP course for NNS doctoral students: Moving from available specialized corpora to self-compiled corpora. English for Specific Purposes, 25(1), 56–75.
Nation, I. S. P. (1990). Teaching and learning vocabulary. New York: Heinle and Heinle.
Nation, I.S.P. (2001). Learning vocabulary in another language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Ranjbar, N., Pazhakh, A., & Gorjian, B. (2012). The effect of lexical bundles on Iranian EFL learners' linguistic production fluency. International Education Journal, 5(4), 243-251.
Rond, M., & Miller, A.N. (2005). Publish or perish bane or boon of academic life? Journal of Management Inquiry, 14(4), 321-329.
Salager-Meyer, F. (2014). Origin and development of English for medical purposes. Part I: Research on written medical discourse. Medical Writing 23(1), 49-51.
Schmitt, N., & McCarthy, M. (Eds.) (1997). Vocabulary: Description, acquisition, and pedagogy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Shahriari Ahmadi, H., Ghonsooly, B, & Hosseini Fatemi, A. (2013). An analysis of lexical bundles in research article abstracts by Iranian and native English-speaking authors of applied linguistics articles. The Asian ESP Journal, 9(1), 5-25.
Stotsky, S. (1986). On learning to write about ideas. College composition and communication, 37(3), 276-293.
Thonney, T. (2011). Teaching the conventions of academic discourse. Teaching English in the Two-Year College, 39(4), 347-362.
Tremblay, A., Derwing, B., Libben, G., & Westbury, C. (2011). Processing advantages of lexical bundles: Evidence from self-paced reading and sentence recall tasks. Language Learning, 61(2), 569–613.
Wood, D. (2010). Formulaic language and second language speech fluency. London: Continuum International Publishing Group.
Yancey, K. B. (2009). Writing in the 21st century: A report from the National Council of Teachers of English. Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English.