Language, Literacy, and Sociocultural Studies ETDs

Publication Date

Spring 4-11-2019


Over the last decade, an extensive body of literature has demonstrated the essential role of formulaic language in learning and teaching a second language (L2) (Martinez & Schmitt, 2012). Educators and policy makers in the Ministry of Education in Saudi Arabia have expressed their serious concerns about “the low level of achievement in English among students in schools and universities”(Alrashidi & Phan, 2015, p. 38).

As a result, most Saudi universities have incorporated Preparatory Year Programs (PYP) to enable students to master crucial academic skills, and to target the English language instruction needs in many disciplines. The present study, therefore, intended to examine academic English-language formulas incorporated into an English Language Teaching (ELT) textbook specifically used to reinforce academic English for many Saudi university students undertaking their preparatory year.

In this study, the corpus-driven approach was applied to identify the most frequently occurring 3-, 4-, and 5-word formulas in the textbook whose pragmatic functions were specified on the basis of Simpson-Vlach and Ellis’ taxonomy (2010). In addition, the corpus-based approach was used to compare the extent to which the Academic Formulas List (AFL) (Simpson-Vlach & Ellis, 2010) appeared in the textbook, and the number of times AFL formulas occurred.

The major findings showed that the textbook comprised a total of 342 formulas: 217 formulas; 101 formulas; and 24 formulas for the 3-, 4-, and 5-word formulas, respectively. Furthermore, the textbook incorporated only 143 formulas out of 400 AFL formulas. Finally, the majority of the identified formulas functioned as constructing stance expression (46%), followed by referential expressions (36%), and lastly as discourse organizing expressions (18%).

The results contribute to an understanding of the input that is provided in an ELT textbook, and to raise the awareness of the importance of formulas inclusion in ELT textbooks. The findings can therefore help L2 instructors, L2 researchers, and especially ELT publishers to not only incorporate academic formulas into ELT textbooks but also to integrate formulas with high utility for L2 learners. This implies that L2 formulas should not be included randomly, but in a way that is consistent with scholarly criteria.


Formulaic Sequences, ELT Textbooks, Formulas, English Language Teaching and Learning

Document Type




Degree Name

Language, Literacy and Sociocultural Studies

Level of Degree


Department Name

Language, Literacy, and Sociocultural Studies

First Committee Member (Chair)

Rebecca Blum-Martinez

Second Committee Member

Mary F. Rice

Third Committee Member

Melissa Axelrod

Fourth Committee Member

Carolyn J. Hushman