Haidee Thomson

PhD student in Applied Linguistics

Developing fluency with multi-word expressions

Supervisors: AProf Averil Coxhead and Dr Frank Boers


How can multi-word expressions (as defined by Siyanova-Chanturia & Martinez, 2014) be taught and learnt in a foreign language? Naturally acquired in the first language through frequency of encounter, multi-word expressions are argued to provide a short cut for language processing, allowing one to speak with greater speed and fluency (Boers, Eyckmans, Kappel, Stengers, & Demecheleer, 2006). Knowing multi-word expressions to the point where they become safe to use and enhance fluency is likely to be a worthwhile goal for language learners, especially in contexts such as Japan where fluency is desired but seldom achieved. However, research to date is inconclusive about how best to learn and practise such expressions. Wood (2009) reported increased use of formulaic language in an ESL environment after participation in fluency workshop activities. My classroom based research investigates the effectiveness of the same activities for learning multi-word expressions using a larger population in an EFL environment in Japan. My research not only looks at pre and post-workshop fluency, complexity and use of target multi-word expressions, but also investigates learner perceptions of the activities in order to improve classroom practice.


Haidee is currently a PhD candidate at the School of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies, Victoria University of Wellington (VUW), New Zealand. Haidee also earned her MA in TESOL, Bachelor of Tourism Management and Bachelor of Commerce and Administration with a major in International Business at VUW. She has over 10 years’ TESOL experience in Japan.


Thomson, H., Boers, F., & Coxhead, A. (2019). Replication research in pedagogical approaches to spoken fluency and formulaic sequences: A call for replication of Wood (2009) and Boers, Eyckmans, Kappel, Stengers & Demecheleer (2006). Language Teaching, 52 (3), 406-414. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0261444817000374

Naoko Tanaka, & Haidee Thomson (Eds.). (2018). Introduction to Tour Guiding in English: Hokkaido. Tokyo: Tokyo Tosho Shuppan.

Thomson, H. (2017). Building speaking fluency with multiword expressions. TESL Canada Journal34(3), 26–53. https://doi.org/10.18806/tesl.v34i3.1272

Hagley, E., & Thomson, H. (2017). Virtual Exchange: Providing International Communication Opportunities for Learners of English as a Foreign Language. Hokkaido Gengo Kenkyukai [Hokkaido Language Culture Research]13, 1–10.

Tanaka, N., Morikoshi, K., Thomson, H., & Fujita, R. (2017). Investigating the UK Blue Badge guide training program in order to develop guide-interpreter training and education in Japan. Hokusei Junior College Review15, 21–40.

Thomson, H. (2016). Presenting lexical bundles for explicit noticing with schematic linguistic representation. TESL-EJ20(2). http://www.tesl-ej.org/wordpress/issues/volume20/ej78/ej78a4/

Thomson, H. (2014a). Collaborative conversations for learning new vocabulary. In A. Coxhead (Ed.), New ways in teaching vocabulary revised (pp. 14–15). TESOL Inc.

Thomson, H. (2014b). Vocabulary, revision and growth online. In A. Coxhead (Ed.), New ways in teaching vocabulary revised (pp. 235–237). TESOL Inc.

Sano, A., Nakajima, K., Ikuta, Y., Thomson, H., Fukukawa, M., & Nakano, T. (2014) Writing Abilities of Grade 1-9 Japanese-English Bilinguals: Linguistic Interdependency and AGE, LOR and AOA. Mother Tongue, Heritage Language, and Bilingual Education Research Association (MHB), 10, 60-90.

Thomson, H. (2013). Setting and achieving realistic vocabulary goals in a language course. JACET Hokkaido Research Bulletin of English Teaching10, 27–45.


Thomson, H. (2019, July). Learner use of multi-word expressions increases, but what about fluency? Presented at the Vocab@Leuven, Leuven, Belgium.

Thomson, H. (2019, January). Classroom activities to improve speaking fluency using multi-word expressions. Presented at the JALT Hokkaido conference, Sapporo, Japan.

Thomson, H. (2018, November). What would you like? I think I will increase learner use of multi-word expressions. Poster presented at JALT International Conference, Shizuoka, Japan.

Thomson, H. (2018, September). What would you like? I think I will increase learner use of multi-word expressions. Poster presented at the Vocabulary Symposium, JALT Vocabulary SIG, Tokyo, Japan.

Thomson, H. (2018, September). Increasing reproduction of multi-word expressions in learner dialogue. Presented at the EUROPHRAS 2018, Bialystok, Poland.

Thomson, H., Tanaka, N., & Morikoshi, K. (2017). Discovering the most important elements in a practical tour guide training program. Presented at the 3rd Global Tourism & Hospitality Conference, Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

Thomson, H. (2016). Can knowledge of multi-word expressions be fostered through a fluency workshop? Presented at the Vocab@Tokyo, Meiji Gakuen University.

Tanaka, N., & Thomson, H. (2016). Tour Guide Practicum: Motivating Students to Improve Their English. Presented at the JACET 55th International Convention, Sapporo, Japan.

Thomson, H. (2016, May). Student voices on activities for building fluency using multi-word expressions. Presented at the JALT PanSIG 2016: Innovations in Education, Meio University, Okinawa. Retrieved from http://pansig.org/

Tanaka, N., Thomson, H., & Fujita, R. (2016). Practical Guide Interpreter training for college students and novice guides. Presented at the APacChRIE Conference, Bangkok, Thailand.

Thomson, Haidee, & Sano, Aiko. (2015, November). Lexical bundles in the development of young bilingual (English and Japanese) writing. Presented at the Symposium on Second Language Writing, Auckland University of Technology.

Thomson, H. (2015, July 19). It takes two to tango: Student voices regarding virtual exchange. Presented at the Summer Moodle Workshop and Asia Pacific Virtual Exchange Association Inaugural Conference, Muroran Institute of Technology, Japan.

Thomson, H. (2014, November 21). Noticing and learning lexical bundles. Presented at the JALT 2014 Conversations across borders, Tsukuba International Congress Center.