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Corpora in the classroom: Forging new paths Randi Reppen Northern Arizona University ©2010 Randi Reppen.

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Presentation on theme: "Corpora in the classroom: Forging new paths Randi Reppen Northern Arizona University ©2010 Randi Reppen."— Presentation transcript:

1 Corpora in the classroom: Forging new paths Randi Reppen Northern Arizona University ©2010 Randi Reppen

2 Goals for this presentation To provide some reasons for using corpora or corpus research - why To show how to use corpus research and corpora in the classroom - examples Present some guidelines & resources ©2010 Randi Reppen

3 Why use a corpus to teach? A corpus can… provide insights into language use where intuitions often fail – or worse, give us the wrong information. be a source of language teaching materials. provide students with hands-on opportunities for language learning. ©2010 Randi Reppen

4 What is a corpus? A large, principled collection of natural texts Analyzed using both automatic and interactive computer techniques Depends on both quantitative and qualitative analytical techniques (Biber, Conrad & Reppen 1998) ©2010 Randi Reppen

5 Four ways to use corpora & corpus linguistics in the classroom Inform the syllabus Create materials/activities Create specialized corpora Use online resources ©2010 Randi Reppen

6 Ways to use corpus linguistics for language instruction: Inform the syllabus Teachers can use information from corpus research to help inform decisions about which features to present and how much time to spend on various features. ©2010 Randi Reppen

7 An example from common verbs ©2010 Randi Reppen

8 Most common lexical verbs (From LGSWE Biber et. al. 1999) ©2010 Randi Reppen

9 Distribution across four registers (from LGSWE Biber 1999) ©2010 Randi Reppen

10 The language of business classes Classroom teaching have /v know /v get /v say /v go /v think /v want /v thing /n time /n mean /v Textbooks company /n control /n manager /n question /n win /n market /n factor /n example /n business /n risk /n ©2010 Randi Reppen

11 An example from word formation ©2010 Randi Reppen

12 What do we know about affixes? Suffixes are more productive than prefixes Not all suffixes are equally productive when it comes to academic words. The six most productive suffixes are: -tion, -ity, -er, -ness, -ism, and –ment (Biber et al, 1999) ©2010 Randi Reppen

13 Example activity 1 Give students a copy of a page from a textbook or a journal article in the case of graduate students. Then, ask students to circle all of the nouns that they find with any of the six suffixes listed above. Discuss the words: Look how words may change from nouns to verbs when the suffixes are added paint  painter = verb  noun; or noun  noun govern  government = verb  noun ©2010 Randi Reppen

14 Example activity 2 ~tion define ~ity act ~ness govern ~er state ~ism ~ment ©2010 Randi Reppen

15 Using corpora to create materials for language instruction Teachers can use corpora to create a variety of materials. Word frequency lists from readings Models of language use & role play actual dialogues Practice activities & testing ©2010 Randi Reppen

16 Word frequency list ©2010 Randi Reppen

17 Model language use & Role play actual dialogues ©2010 Randi Reppen

18 Service encounters at a coffee shop 1: Hi. 2: Hi. Could I get small regular coffee, with uh, hazelnut? 1: Here's a large cup, because we ran out of the small ones. 2: OK. Thank you. 1: Thank you. 2: No problem. 1: Have a nice day. 2: You too. 1: Hi. 2: I want just the onion bagel, and could I, um, have cream cheese? And a small lemon lime. 1: Thank you. 2: Thank you. 1: You have a nice day. 2: Thanks. ©2010 Randi Reppen

19 Practice activities & Testing ©2010 Randi Reppen

20 A KWIC gap activity Key Word in Context ©2010 Randi Reppen



23 Gap exercise for article practice Tom, executive director of ABC, ___ leadership, training program in Illinois will be visiting. But it's like ___ weight training you lift ___ little more here and there and eventually get stronger. To get ___ fresh perspective on why apathy strikes and how to minimize it, check out XXX. I don't think apathy is just ___ campus problem it tends to be societal. Last year, I decided to form ___ task force to conquer apathy and to do some ___ community building. ©2010 Randi Reppen

24 Create specialized corpora For example: a corpus of business texts; a corpus of engineering texts; a corpus from class readings; a corpus from student papers. ©2010 Randi Reppen

25 An example from a content-based, integrated skills class on Anthropology (Donley and Reppen 2001) ©2010 Randi Reppen

26 Texts & (number of words) Cultural Anthropology: An Applied Perspective (8,669) Cultural Ways: A Concise Introduction to Cultural Anthropology (6,093) Eating Christmas in the Kalahari (3,646) (1,626) west (5,198) Total number of words= 25,232 ©2010 Randi Reppen

27 Content words are often: Typographically enhanced Defined in the text Easily explainable Discipline specific Conceptually related to other content words ©2010 Randi Reppen

28 Academic words are: Almost invisible Often polysemous Often used in a variety of contexts ©2010 Randi Reppen

29 Uses of specialized corpora Identify unfamiliar words Identify high frequency words Use KWICS to generate class activities Identify word senses Practice inferencing strategies ©2010 Randi Reppen

30 Specialized corpus example - 2 An example from a corpus of class papers ©2010 Randi Reppen

31 Errors of elementary student writers Hand coded for three types of errors:  Noun morphology  Verb morphology  Subject/verb agreement ©2010 Randi Reppen

32 Noun morphology, Verb morphology & Subject Verb agreement errors We put six window in it. Me and Mary are friend. Last night I stay up until ten o'clock. And I watch the Country awards last night. She love my little sister. Fred say I'll show you I can juggle. ©2010 Randi Reppen

33 Use this to inform instruction and as a source for activities. ©2010 Randi Reppen

34 Will textbooks from corpus materials look really different from the materials I use now? ©2010 Randi Reppen

35 An example from Real Grammar Susan Conrad and Doug Biber Longman ©2010 Randi Reppen


37 An example from the Touchstone Level 2 Michael McCarthy, Jeanne McCarten and Helen Sandiford Campbridge ©2010 Randi Reppen


39 Using online corpora ©2010 Randi Reppen

40 Site evaluation checklist: How do I want to use this site? Does the site match my purposes/ goals? Does the site do what it says it will do? Is the site stable, or does it crash/freeze my computer? Are the instructions clear and easy to follow? (Esp. if learners will be using the site) If there is a user fee, does the fee match the use? ©2010 Randi Reppen

41 Online corpora Corpus of contemporary American English COCA TIME Magazine corpus Michigan Corpus of Academic Spoken English MICASE & MICUSP ©2010 Randi Reppen

42 An example using the Time corpus ©2010 Randi Reppen

43 HIPPIE ©2010 Randi Reppen


45 HIPPIE ©2010 Randi Reppen

46 A corpus of academic spoken English MICASE ©2010 Randi Reppen



49 Checklist for developing activities Know what you want to teach! Select the best corpus resource for your lesson. Explore the corpus completely for the point you want to teach. Have complete and easy to follow directions Provide a variety of ways for interacting with the materials. If you are using computers ALWAYS have a alternative plan or activity. ©2010 Randi Reppen

50 Teachers can use corpora to create materials & activities Word frequency lists from readings Models of language use & role play actual dialogues Practice activities & testing Specialized corpora Use online corpora ©2010 Randi Reppen

51 Learners can interact with corpora to: Learn vocabulary; Explore extended collocations; Compare against model texts; Discover patterns of use. ©2010 Randi Reppen

52 Some challenges Availability of corpora Studies that explore the effectiveness of corpus-based materials for teaching Time and resources ©2010 Randi Reppen

53 Thanks! ©2010 Randi Reppen

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