Suppose you have finished the basic grammar of a language. You can say a word or two, or you can even make a sentence comprised of more than 5 words. But still you cannot speak it very fast.

When we speak a foreign language, we cannot speak as fast as the native speakers do. And this often makes us so frustrated that ultimately cause us to give it all up.

But, why can people speak the first language fast? And in spite of being little conscious about the grammar, they make very few mistakes, (at least it seems so.) But why?

Some linguists argue that this is because native speakers have a substantial amount of fixed phrases in stock, and they simply retrieve a suitable pattern out of the storage and use exactly the same patterns or change only some words to make a new sentence.

This sounds very efficient.So, we can employ this method for 2nd language production.

Effectiveness and Efficiency

There are two advantages to this method:

  1. Speed
  2. Accuracy

You can speak and write faster than in other ways because all you have to do is take out a ready-made phrase. And those sentences are all correct, which is proved by the fact that a native speaker used the target phrase before.

3 ways to find good chunks and where to look

Here are three ways I use to find and stock up useful chunks:

  1. Read many materials on a regular basis
  2. Get native speakers to check your writing
  3. Search dictionary for examples on demand and quick


Change some words in the chunk in stock to make it suitable to your own situation.


The limited number of your chunk storage might not cope with all situations.

Memorizing ready-made patterns will not improve the ability to create a new sentence on your own.

If you wish to learn more about chunks in linguistics, you can check out this page:


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