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Corpus Linguistics in Language Teaching

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Edited By Tony Harris and Maria Moreno Jaen

Derived from the successful International Seminar on Corpus Linguistics, New Trends in Language Teaching and Translation Studies: In Honour of John Sinclair (Granada, September 2008), organised by the research groups ADELEX (Assessing and Developing Lexical Competence) and ECPC (European Comparable and Parallel Corpora), seven contributions from well-known scholars in the field focus their attention on recent advances made in Corpus Linguistics in Language Teaching. The first four chapters deal with more practical issues of applying corpora to language learning and teaching, examining particularly the integration of data-driven learning and different types of corpora including pedagogical, spoken multimedia and parallel. The last three chapters are concerned more with corpus-based research for language teaching arguing for more refined statistical methodology, comparing conversational features of the British National Corpus with a micro-corpus of movies and forwarding the case for research into corpus-based, meaning-oriented multimodal annotation, respectively. This volume is homage to John Sinclair’s academic legacy and the groundbreaking work which continues to honour his name.

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Part one: Applying Corpora to Language Learning and Teaching

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Part I: Applying Corpora to Language Learning and Teaching ALEX BOULTON Data-Driven Learning: On Paper, in Practice 1. The impact of corpora in language teaching and learning Corpora have much to contribute to teaching and learning, most obviously in advancing our knowledge of language and how it works, with improved descriptions finding their way into various types of reference materials. In paper form, they have been used for several centuries in preparing dictionaries, receiving considerable impetus from the COBUILD projects starting in the 1980s, with bilingual dictionaries now starting to catch up (see Cobb 2003). They are also increasingly used in the preparation of general usage manuals and specialised reference works treating particular areas of language use (such as phrasal verbs in English), as well as for grammars aiming either at comprehensive language description or at a pedagogically useful version for language learners. From such reference works with their improved linguistic description we can also expect more appropriate syllabuses firmly rooted in the reality of language use. This is most evident in the long history of corpus-based word lists, but most new materials from major publishers today claim to be corpus- based to some extent, as do more and more internationally-recognised language tests. So pervasive is the uptake of corpus information at such levels that it is barely possible to scratch the surface, and it is likely to continue unabated. However, it is worth noting that the corpus input described so far reflects an ‘indirect approach’ (Römer 2006: 125)...

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