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An investigation into Corpus-based learning about language in the primary-school: CLLIP The classroom-based fieldwork.

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Presentation on theme: "An investigation into Corpus-based learning about language in the primary-school: CLLIP The classroom-based fieldwork."— Presentation transcript:

1 An investigation into Corpus-based learning about language in the primary-school: CLLIP The classroom-based fieldwork

2 Background Renewed interest in children learning about language (NLS) ESRC funded project (Economic and Social Research Council) Potential of a corpus-based approach for children ’ s evidence-based investigation

3 ‘The study of English helps pupils understand how language works by looking at its patterns, structures and origins’ The National Curriculum for English (DfEE 1999) ‘investigative, independent and evidence- based learning’ National Literacy Strategy (DfEE 1998)

4 Aim of Project To investigate the potential of: a corpus-based approach for children ’ s evidence-based investigation into patterns in the English language

5 Research questions (1) How do primary school pupils respond to corpus-based teaching and learning activities? What kinds of metalinguistic knowledge, understanding or misconceptions are the children prompted to articulate by the presentation of texts in a corpus format, such as concordance lines?

6 Research questions (2) What features of the corpus-learner interface do the children find useful in learning to recognise and identify patterned features of vocabulary and grammar? As the children become familiar with the approach, do they begin to posit metalinguistic questions and hypotheses of their own, as older learners have been found to do?

7 Research questions (3) Does the evidence generated by the research suggest any constructive modifications to the prescriptions of the English National Curriculum, the Initial Teacher Training National Curriculum for Primary English, or the National Literacy Strategy?

8 What is a corpus? an electronically stored databank of authentic language ‘ a collection of pieces of language, selected and ordered according to explicit criteria in order to be used as a sample of the language ’

9 What is the CLLIP corpus? 40 texts written for a child audience extracted from the British National Corpus stories, history books, Brownie annual etc. approximately 800,000 words

10 What can be done with a corpus? Identify patterns in language Grammar Vocabulary For example collect, classify and order sets of words to identify shades of meaning explain the differences between synonyms e.g. angry, irritated, frustrated, upset NLS Objective Year 5 Term 1

11 Fieldwork 2 Primary Schools Phase 1: 6 Y4 + 6 Y5 children Phase 2: 8 Y5 children 9 x 40 minute sessions in each school Recording: 2 video cameras, 2 Mini Disc recorders

12 Activities First session: introducing the concept of a corpus simple set of concordance lines, focusing on centre of concordance lines first Later sessions Phase 1: Mainly paper-based Phase 2: Computer-based

13 Y4T2W to spell words with the common endings: -ight, etc Objective (NLS) This worksheet is based on concordance lines generated by a search for ‘*ight’. The task was to identify which of these words rhyme with ‘bite’ and which with ‘ate’. The objective was to familiarise the children with the idea and appearance of concordance lines

14 Objective (NLS) Y5T3S to search for, identify and classify a range of prepositions … Understand and use the term preposition This worksheet was produced by searching for a verb of motion followed by ‘the’ after the next word, generating a set of concordance lines centring on prepositions. It is very ‘busy’ in appearance, because all the part of speech / word class categories are colour coded. Later versions of the interface allowed us to show colour in a much more selective way.

15 Sample data: Extract 1 GA1 = Girl 1 at School A BA2 = Boy 2 at School A This discussion took place during the session when the children in School A were introduced to the colour-coded output for the first time. (See previous slide.) They found the sheets intriguing and speculated about why the words had been coloured in the way they had.

16 Sample data: Extract 2

17 Sample data: Extract 3

18 Y5T1W: to use adverbs to qualify verbs in writing dialogue Objective (NLS) The task here was to discuss in a small group which adverb would fit best into each set of three concordance lines. The children completed a copy of the sheet when all in the group agreed, having given reasons for their decisions.

19 The corpus interface Name of programme: Wordsmith Tools Features Colour chooser Grouping by ‘ set ’ Sorting the lines – by left, right, by set

20 Initial findings Children were familiar from previous work with some language categories and patterns They readily assimilated the idea of a corpus and concordance lines The corpus-based activities helped to consolidate and extend their understanding of language categories and patterns They initiated uses of the analysis software which we hadn ’ t foreseen

21 Contact We would be very pleased to hear from anyone who is interested in the project and would like to know more. Please see the main project page for details of where we are presenting the research. We can be contacted at the University of Reading (address on SLALS home page), or via


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