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CASRI Innovative Pedagogy Approaches Update: Research Project #2

Call for papers: Formulaicity and idiomaticity in CFL/CSL

Date: July 8, 2019

The CASRI research group “Formulaic language, idioms, situation-bound utterances” is seeking contributions to a journal special issue or a monograph focused on formulaicity and idiomaticity in Chinese as a foreign or second language (CFL/CSL respectively).

A formulaic sequence is defined by Wray (2000, p. 465) as “a sequence, continuous or discontinuous, of words or other elements, which is, or appears to be, prefabricated: that is, stored and retrieved whole from memory at the time of use, rather than being subject to generation or analysis”. The definition is a broad one since it comprises various types of multiword formations, including collocations, idioms, conversational routines, and situation-bound utterances (SBUs).

One of the main goals for foreign language learners is to acquire not only the grammar rules or single lexical units, but also “a means for knowing which of the well-formed sentences are nativelike” (Pawley & Syder, 1983, p. 194), that is, formulaic and idiomatic. Research demonstrated that learners can greatly benefit from mastering formulaic sequences and idioms, especially to increase the communicative competence. However, a growing number of studies has shown that mastering formulaic language is challenging, and that “the exact paths to follow to better teach it are still insufficiently lit” (Meunier, 2012, p. 123).

The number of studies on Chinese formulas is constantly increasing. Chinese idioms (shuyu), in particular, have been systematically studied since the beginning of the 20th century. In recent years, the research on formulaicity and idiomaticity in CFL/CSL has primarily focused on chengyu, although mainly from a theoretical perspective (see Conti, 2019). More recently, several studies have addressed other types of Chinese formulaic sequences, including routine formulae (Taguchi et al., 2013; Yang, 2016), and SBUs (Kecskés, 2016). Nevertheless, research on formulaicity and idiomaticity in CFL/CSL is still at an early stage, and much must be done in terms of describing learners’ acquisition and use of various types of formulae, as well as theorizing and developing practical applications for Chinese teaching and learning. For this purpose, we especially welcome contributions based on different research methodologies (qualitative, quantitative, corpus-based, etc.) on the following aspects:

  • Criteria for identifying learners’ formulae (nativelike or non-nativelike);
  • Acquisition of formulae in different learning settings;
  • Intervention studies on formulaic language teaching;
  • Formulaic language for performing linguistic acts;
  • Formulaic language account from a contrastive perspective;
  • Corpus studies on formulaic language.
  • the effect of L1 transfer on acquisition and learning of Chinese formulae

Once we have a set of confirmed authors, we will make a formal proposal to editors. Please submit your proposals by filling up the form available on the CASRI website ( and sending it to the following addresses: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Tentative Key deadlines are as follows:

  • CASRI form submission: ongoing
  • Abstract submission: ongoing
  • Initial confirmation with a title/abstract: ongoing
  • Proposal to editors: TBD
  • Expected first draft paper due to the editors: TBD

Submission language: English

We look forward to your participation in this project.

Kind regards,


Sergio Conti                                                   

Roma Tre University                                       

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.                               

Zhiqi Gong

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



Conti, S. (2019). Chengyu. Caratteristiche e apprendimento delle espressioni idiomatiche cinesi. Padova: edizioni.

Kecskés, I. (2016). Situation-bound utterances in Chinese. East Asian Pragmatics, 1(1), 107-126.

Meunier, F. (2012), Formulaic language and language teaching. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 32, 111-129.

Pawley, A., & Syder, F. H. (1983). Two puzzles for linguistic theory: Nativelike selection and nativelike fluency. J. C. Richards & R. W. Schmidt (Eds.), Language and Communication (p. 191-226). New York: Longman.

Taguchi, N., Li S., & Xiao F. (2013). Production of formulaic expressions in L2 Chinese: A developmental investigation in a study abroad context. CASLAR 2013, 2(1), 23-58.

Wray A. (2000). Formulaic sequences in second language teaching: Principles and practice. Applied Linguistics, 21(4), 2000, 463-489.

Yang. J. (2016). CFL learners’ recognition and production of pragmatic routine formulae. Chinese as a Second Language, 51(1), 29-61.