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Corpus Linguistics in Language Teaching

Series:

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 two: Corpus-Based Research for Language Teaching

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Part 2: Corpus-Based Research for Language Teaching STEFAN TH. GRIES Methodological Skills in Corpus Linguistics: A Polemic and Some Pointers Towards Quantitative Methods 1. Introduction For a variety of reasons, the (corpus) linguist’s life is a hard one. One of these reasons is the complexity of the subject under investigation, language. Linguistic behaviour is influenced by a multitude of factors which can be categorized into different categories: general aspects of cognition having to do with attention span, working memory, general intelligence, etc.; specific aspects of the linguistic system: form, meaning, com- municative pressures, etc.; other performance factors (e.g., visual distractions, etc.) What makes it even harder, is that all of these factors influence lan- guage only probabilistically rather than deterministically, which makes it very difficult to precisely predict most aspects of human linguistic behaviour. In addition, and this leads to a second reason, the data on the basis of which we try to describe, explain, and predict linguistic behaviour is very fragmented and very noisy. With regard to observational data from corpora, the problem of fragmentation and noise manifests itself in different ways. On the one hand, corpora unfortunately are never infinite although language is in principle an infinite system; never really representative in the sense that they really contain all parts or registers or genres or varieties of human language; Stefan Th. Gries 122 never really balanced in the sense that they contain these parts or registers or genres or varieties in exactly the proportions such parts make up...

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