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Corpus Analysis for Descriptive and Pedagogical Purposes

ESP Perspectives


Edited By Maurizio Gotti and Davide S. Giannoni

There is hardly any aspect of verbal communication that has not been investigated using the analytical tools developed by corpus linguists. This is especially true in the case of English, which commands a vast international research community, and corpora are becoming increasingly specialised, as they account for areas of language use shaped by specific sociolectal (register, genre, variety) and speaker (gender, profession, status) variables.
Corpus analysis is driven by a common interest in ‘linguistic evidence’, viewed as a source of insights into language phenomena or of lexical, semantic and contrastive data for subsequent applications. Among the latter, pedagogical settings are highly prominent, as corpora can be used to monitor classroom output, raise learner awareness and inform teaching materials.
The eighteen chapters in this volume focus on contexts where English is employed by specialists in the professions or academia and debate some of the challenges arising from the complex relationship between linguistic theory, data-mining tools and statistical methods.


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Pedagogical Applications 287


Pedagogical Applications AVERIL COXHEAD Corpus Linguistics and Vocabulary Teaching: Perspectives from English for Specific Purposes 1. Introduction A large amount of research into the vocabulary of English for Specific Purposes in recent years has come from studies based on various kinds of specialised corpora. This research has informed and supported a range of pedagogical pursuits including curriculum design, classroom practices, and assessment. For example, corpus studies have provided data on the frequency and use of words in context by professional and learner writers, helped identify lexical items for teaching and testing, and supported independent learning initiatives by teachers and learners through a range of online tools. This chapter looks at links between corpus linguistics, ESP, vocabulary, and pedagogy. I discuss some of the challenges of working with corpora in ESP from the point of view of teachers and learners, using examples from classrooms and teaching materials. Finally, I look to possible future research on voca- bulary in ESP and how corpus studies might continue to support peda- gogy. 2. Specialised vocabulary and why it is important Specialised vocabulary, loosely termed, is the vocabulary of a par- ticular domain. That is, it tends to be mostly used in that specific field and not often in other fields. An example of specialised vocabulary is photosynthesis in Biology. Another example might be neck. While Averil Coxhead290 photosynthesis seems to be a clear-cut example, neck might seem less so because the word also occurs outside the context of medicine (Nation 2008) in general usage....

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