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Synopsis About this title A critical examination of key concepts and issues in corpus linguistics, with a particular focus on the expanding interdisciplinary nature of the field and the role that written and spoken corpora now play in these different disciplines. Buy New Learn more about this copy. Other Popular Editions of the Same Title. Search for all books with this author and title.
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Published by Palgrave Macmillan New Paperback Quantity Available: 1. Seller Rating:. Corpora and Language Education Lynne Flowerdew. Also, as it would not be feasible or practical to collect texts by all the learners of the same level in the region, the corpus compilers would have to select a sample of texts from each class.
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The same principles apply to native-speaker corpora. We can only collect a sample, and strive to make this sample as representative as possible. Corpora come in many shapes and sizes, because they are built to serve different purposes. Reference corpora have a fixed size; that is, they are not expandable e. Another design-related distinction is whether a corpus contains whole texts , or merely samples of a specified length. The latter option allows a greater variety of texts to be included in a corpus of a given size.
In terms of content, corpora can be either general , that is, attempt to reflect a specific language or variety in all its contexts of use e.
Research in Linguistics and Applied Linguistics
Corpora can also represent the different varieties of a single language. As implied in the previous section, corpora may contain language produced by native or non-native speakers usually learners. Finally, corpora can be monolingual i. First, the texts a corpus is to contain are selected and stored in electronic format.
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Written texts, if they are not already in electronic form e. Although a raw corpus can yield some information about language use, its usefulness is limited. For example, although the frequency of the word drive in the raw corpus can be determined, we will not know how many times it occurs as a noun and how many as a verb. Of course, different instances could be counted manually, but this would defy the purpose of compiling a corpus. The utility and flexibility of a corpus can be increased by adding coding that a computer can recognise. Labels or tags are attached to the words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs, sections, or to entire texts in the corpus.
Information related to non-linguistic properties of the texts is referred to as mark-up. Mark-up may give information about the source of the text e.
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Information related to the linguistic properties of the texts in the corpus is called annotation. Most L1 corpora are annotated for the part of speech and form of the words e. This type of annotation is also called grammatical annotation, or tagging. Corpora can also be annotated for lexical sense e. Sample 1 shows the three questions asked in the second paragraph of this article, annotated for part of speech. Corpus use contributes to language teaching in a number of ways Aston, ; Leech, ; Nesselhauf, The analysis of learner language provides insights into learner needs in different contexts, which then inform learner dictionaries and grammars.
Research on learner corpora also contributes to our understanding of language learning processes Granger et al. Corpora of language teaching coursebooks enable the examination of the language to which learners are exposed, and, when compared to L1 corpora, facilitate the development of more effective pedagogical materials.
Learner corpora have the potential to contribute to the construction and evaluation of language tests in a multitude of ways see Alderson, ; however, this potential has remained underexploited but see Ball, ; Barker The use of L1 corpora in linguistic research has provided the most convincing evidence of discrepancies between actual use and traditional, introspection-based views on language Sinclair, , pp.
This is pertinent to language teaching, as the information about language structure and use that learners receive, whether through pedagogical materials or teachers, is still largely based on introspection. Helpful as it may be, introspection is not always reliable. Being a native speaker does not automatically mean that a user has a conscious, clear, and comprehensive picture of the language in all its contexts of use, nor do all native speakers share the exact same intuitions. A good example is the claim by a native-speaker teacher that in English, "question tags, along with bowler hats, mostly belong to s BBC broadcasts" Bradford, , p.
This view is contradicted by the findings of Biber et al. It is, of course, very helpful to examine the intuitions of native speakers and elicit the different alternatives they find acceptable, or can generate by manipulating their language. It is equally helpful, however, to examine which of these alternatives native speakers actually use, and in what contexts and frequency. The discrepancy between intuitions and attested use indicates that when the language information learners are given is based only on intuitions, and when the examples and texts used in class are chosen to reflect these intuitions, then teachers and materials writers may unwittingly present their personal informal observations about language as the true and full picture of language structure and use, or present their own preferred usage as the only 'correct' or 'acceptable' one.
The importance of corpus-informed pedagogical materials becomes more evident if we take into account that "to a great extent, the course-book can be considered to be the learners' 'corpus'" Gabrielatos, a, p.
Corpus-based research has also revealed the inadequacy of many of the rules that still dominate ELT materials. For example, in a study of a random sample of if -conditionals [ 7 ] from the written section of the BNC, the conditional sentences were examined against the information about form, time orientation and attitude to likelihood given within the currently favoured framework of five types zero, first, second, third and mixed. This section has highlighted the first important contribution of corpus-based research to language teaching, namely more accurate descriptions of English, which in turn can inform reference books and pedagogical materials Hahn, ; Mindt, The language insights derived from corpora go beyond questions of correct or natural use, and provide additional details about the frequency of particular language features in specific contexts.
Strange as it may sound, every single teacher has used a learner corpus, in the loose definition, if only in an informal and intuitive way. Teachers routinely write end-of-course reports, or answer questions about a learner's strengths and needs. How are they able to do so? To use corpus terminology, each learner's performance during the course is used to compile what we may call a mental corpus , which is consulted when evaluating a learner.
The same applies when assigning an impression mark to a piece of writing or a task performance. Using language corpora allows teachers to be much more precise in examining learner language and identifying needs than just forming an overall impression, because corpus use enables teachers to examine particular areas in detail, or annotate for specific learner errors Granger, Error analysis may deal with frequent or common errors, or error patterns, according to the learners' L1, level and age, the medium of production speech or writing , or the context of use e.
Studies using learner corpora have focused on diverse aspects of learner language, mainly in writing. Examples of areas that have been examined with the help of language corpora are the use of lexical chunks De Cock et al. Finally, corpora can be used to detect plagiarism in student essays Atwell et al. The contribution of such studies is two-fold.
Corpus research and practice: What help do teachers need and what can we offer? | Ute Römer
By examining learner language, we can define areas that need special attention in specific contexts and at different levels of competence, and so devise syllabi and materials. Intuition, or 'a feel for the language,' is what learners aim to develop. Native speakers develop that 'feel' partly through exposure to language in use and the recognition of patterns. Through this exposure, native speakers build the mental equivalent of a corpus Bod, Intuitions can be seen as the results of the informal analysis of this mental corpus.
It follows then, that by working on representative examples from language corpora, learners will be helped to recognise recurring patterns of structure and meaning. As Stern states, language learners need to be helped "to see a particular feature The wealth of instances of use of a specific item that corpora provide can offer the amount of evidence required for learners to refine their perception of it. This section will first use a visual example to illustrate how pattern recognition works, and then discuss the implications for language teaching and the use of corpora, with particular regard to the formulation of pedagogical rules.
We will assume that the images used in this example represent a specific language feature, such as the use of a grammatical structure, or the collocational behaviour of a word. We will also assume that we wish to establish the behaviour of the feature by examining a small number of language examples. On the strength of the analysis of this sample, we recognise a regular pattern Figure 2.
In traditional language teaching fashion, we could formulate a rule. However, it might be that when more examples are added to the sample, some irregularities emerge Figure 3a. In the light of the new evidence, we could formulate a list of exceptions to our rule Figure 3b. Let us assume that, over time, we come to observe more instances of the language item in question, or, in corpus terms, that we examine a larger sample, and that our observations reveal even more irregularities to the initial pattern, or, in language teaching terms, more exceptions to the rule Figure 4.
On the face of the evidence at this point, two alternatives exist: First, we can conclude that the particular language feature is "illogical," and that even if a rule could be formulated, it would inevitably have a disproportionate number of exceptions. Second, we could become suspicious of the fact that the exceptions cover more instances than the rule, and tentatively conclude that the fault lies with the rule, not the language.
We could then hypothesise that what we have observed is only a part of a different pattern from that was initially perceived--a pattern that may be larger and more complex. If we adopt the second alternative, the next logical step is to further increase the size of the sample Figure 5. The larger sample seems to reveal a new pattern. However, in the light of previous experience, this time we are not so quick to draw conclusions or formulate rules.
Since the larger the sample, the more valid the conclusions, we considerably increase the sample size to test our new hypothesis Figure 6. Observing the pattern repeat itself Figure 6 , we are now in a much better position to formulate dependable generalisations about the language item in question. However, caution is needed regarding how these generalisations are delimited and phrased c. Close, , pp. It would be rash to make broad statements about the behaviour of a language feature without reference to these parameters. As far as language teaching is concerned, exceptions and special cases are usually the result of overgeneralisations that do no take into account the parameters outlined above, or rules formulated on the basis of inadequate or selective evidence.
Language learners in countries where the target language is not widely spoken often lack opportunities for the rich language exposure that is essential for developing the ability to recognise patterns. Extensive reading is also regarded as an effective way to help language learners develop intuitions as native speakers do Krashen, The pattern-recognition example in the previous section gives an indication of how focused language exposure can be used actively, in order to formulate intuitions about language use.
Representative corpora can offer condensed exposure to language patterns. It is not argued here that corpora should be the sole vehicle for the development of reading skills and strategies, [ 12 ] nor is it argued that corpus use can replace out-of-class reading. Rather, what is being suggested is an approach that shares characteristics of both intensive and extensive reading--what might be called condensed reading.
The reading of corpus samples is intensive in the sense that learners focus on the behaviour of specific language features; it is extensive in the sense that learners examine language features in a larger number of texts than in conventional text-based techniques. Condensed reading enables learners to engage with language use in context in order to formulate and check, though not necessarily consciously, hypotheses about language structure and use.
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