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The Corpus and the language learner Mike Scott, School of English University of Liverpool Corpus Linguistics Summer Institute University of Liverpool 3.

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Presentation on theme: "The Corpus and the language learner Mike Scott, School of English University of Liverpool Corpus Linguistics Summer Institute University of Liverpool 3."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Corpus and the language learner Mike Scott, School of English University of Liverpool Corpus Linguistics Summer Institute University of Liverpool 3 July 2008

2 2 Is Corpus Linguistics the Answer ? No, only a helpful TOOL

3 3 Questions What is useful to the language learner? What is useful to the language teacher? What are the learners’ biggest & most urgent problems? What pitfalls do learners experience? Does it make much difference whether they’re beginners, intermediate or advanced? How could corpora help? How could corpus tools help?

4 4 Problems Early CALL programs were pedagogically awful pseudo-intelligent

5 5 Problems patronising (“would you like to try again?”) “you scored 5 in 14 seconds” (I know the answer but you are thick)

6 6 Pattern Grammar V n n  bring him lunch  write me a letter V n adj  prefer the fish unfilleted  wished both of them dead V n –ing  hates me being a businesswoman  don’t like them pointing at me Francis, Hunston & Manning (1996) Cobuild Grammar: Verbs

7 7 Pattern Grammar V n to-inf  hates his wife to stand out in a crowd  nagged me to cut my hair V n inf  bade her go to the Dauphin  felt something touch his knee V n that  told me he’d planned to be away  warned her that I might not last out V n wh  asked another what was wrong  showed him how the gas cooker works Francis, Hunston & Manning (1996) Cobuild Grammar: Verbs

8 8 Each pattern has a few meaning-types V n inf SEE group  he noticed a figure detach itself …; it’s hard to watch youth slip away; saw arrears rise to record levels LET group  have him recommend a club that …;let others live in safety; make her commit herself to the group HELP group  can help you make your choice

9 9 … and grammatical restrictions V n inf 1 both the noun group and the infinitive clause are objects 2 dislikes passivisation:  no passive for have, notice & watch (*he was had recommend a club; *she was noticed arrive; *we were watched swim)  most of the verbs have no exact passive equivalent (*a figure was seen detach itself) though in the case of let we get his few opponents can safely be let go)

10 10 Learning Patterns “a learner may know that the verb promise can be used in two patterns: V that, as in I promised I would have a word …, and V n that, as in He promised them that he’d change the way … The learner may also know other verbs that have a similar meaning to promise, such as assure, tell and warn …the learner’s knowledge about promise can be extended to warn but not to assure and tell” (Cobuild 1996:xv).

11 11 Learning Patterns The question arises: how do native speakers know that you can say I promised I would have a word but not *I assured he would come soon or *I told Mary would do it? And how can ELT teachers teach this … Or learners learn it????

12 12 Data-driven learning Tim Johns

13 13 Tim Johns’ Kibbitzers Check out: incessant v. steadfast (K1) K25 : Topic v. subject and what can act as subject for argues.

14 14 Hadley (2003)

15 15 Mahlberg (2006) dots are words meriting concordancing etc. “the students take the points as starting-points for a concordance analysis” 2006:379

16 16 Römer (2006) DDL exercise: What is the missing word – speak or talk?  I can only ------- for myself; I can’t -------- for you of course.  Are you able to ------- English fluently?  And then at the end we’ll -------- it through.

17 17 Römer (2006) However, she also discusses, usefully,  3.2 The Indirect Approach (teachers’/textbook writers’ use of corpora) and  4. a CL and LT wish list better corpora e.g. spoken corpora, corpora of real use v. textbook use easier tools corpus-based coursebooks

18 18 Gavioli & Aston (2001) CL has helped produce better descriptions of English, avoiding misapprehensions… …but there seem to be no principles for selecting items (real, Dutch, tend to) to correct using corpora: “while corpora do not tell us what to teach, they can help us make better-informed decisions” (p. 239) Examples of DDL in action (pp. 241, 242)

19 19 Timmis (2005) Argues for pedagogically sound materials reflecting sociolinguistic concerns: they should be  available for listening  interesting  “plausible as natural interaction” (p. 118)

20 20 Timmis (2005) Proposes ELT materials e.g. using video on life in Cornwall, focussing on  Heads: All my friends down there, we went to school together  Tails: They demand breakfast, the children  Ellipsis: Business booming, is it?  Vague language: That’s where the smugglers and that used to keep the loot  etc.

21 21 Key words and the language learner…

22 22 Activities (1) supply KWs and predict/guess at the text  rationale: boosts confidence & reduces tension of reading the text; variant on old un- pedagogical supplying of a glossary prior to reading

23 23 Activities (2) sort KWs into categories (people, places, processes etc.)  rationale: leads to Critical Reading: what was said and what was downplayed and what omitted

24 24 Activities (3) Predict which other text-types would typically contain those KWs  rationale: focus on notion of the colony, text-types, intertextuality

25 25 Activities (4) KWs as a basis for writing tasks  rationale: students start from their own KWs and generate a text; reduces tension of writing a well-formed text, provides a basis for brain-storming

26 26 Activities (5) KWs as a basis for oral presentations  rationale: helps prepare the audience, prior to or immediately following outline summary of the presentation; helps focus the presenter ’ s mind towards the audience (away from the teacher) and increase likelihood of awareness of difficulties audience might face, as well as focus on the essential as opposed to incidental

27 27 Activities (6) Read/listen and note down the KWs  rationale: preparation for note-taking but less stressful

28 28 Conclusions After a poor start, CALL has now, through DDL, a chance of helping students to learn. Pattern Grammar has emerged from the CL initiative and helps explain language better than traditional models. A number of imaginative methods of getting this through to students are being tried out. There is still a l-o-n-g way to go!

29 29 Collins Cobuild, 1996, Grammar Patterns 1: Verbs. Gavioli, Laura & Guy Aston, 2001. “Enriching reality: language corpora in language pedagogy”. English Language Teaching Journal, Vol. 55, No. 3. pp. 238-246. Hadley, Greg, 2003 : Johns, Tim, 1994. "From printout to handout: Grammar and vocabulary teaching in the context of Data-driven Learning." In T. Odlin, ed., Perspectives on Pedagogical Grammar. New York: Cambridge University Press. Mahlberg, Michaela, 2006, “Lexical Cohesion: Corpus Linguistic Theory and its application to English Language Teaching”. International Journal of Corpus Linguistics, Vol. 11, No. 3, 363-383. Römer, Ute, 2006. “Pedagogical Applications of Corpora: some reflections on the current scope and a wish list for future developments”. Zeitschrift für Anglistik und Amerikanistik 54 (2): 121-134. Timmis, Ivor, 2005. “Towards a framework for teaching spoken grammar”. English Language Teaching Journal, Vol. 59, No. 2. pp.117-125. References

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