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Studies in Learner Corpus Linguistics

Research and Applications for Foreign Language Teaching and Assessment

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Edited By Erik Castello, Katherine Ackerley and Francesca Coccetta

This volume explores the potential of using both cross-sectional and longitudinal learner corpora to investigate the interlanguage of learners with various L1 backgrounds and to subsequently apply the findings to language teaching and assessment. It is made up of 18 chapters selected from papers presented at the international conference «Compiling and Using Learner Corpora», held in May 2013 at the University of Padua, Italy. The chapters discuss current issues and future developments of the use of learner corpora, present case studies based on teaching and assessment experiences in various contexts, and longitudinal corpus-based studies conducted within the Longitudinal Database of Learner English (LONGDALE) project. Other chapters report on investigations of specific aspects of the interlanguage of a variety of learner populations, and the last ones address issues of corpus compilation and representativeness. The majority of the contributions draw on data produced by EFL learners from Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, and the Netherlands, while others concern learners of Italian and Spanish as Foreign Languages.
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Dealing with Errors in Learner Corpora to Describe, Teach and Assess EFL Writing: Focus on Article Use

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1.   Analysis of Errors in Learner Language

The analysis of errors, i.e. ‘unsuccessful bit[s] of language’ (James 1998: 1), produced by Foreign Language (FL) learners, is undertaken from two main perspectives. The first perspective in the analysis of learners’ errors stems from Corder’s (1967) influential article on the importance of the information conveyed by errors for the researcher, the teacher and the student. In an attempt to improve students’ accuracy in their use of the FL and to design teaching materials that would cater to their needs, Error Analysis (EA) proved a highly active and fruitful field in the 1970s (see, for instance, Brown 1994). Although EA presented some limitations regarding the appropriateness of learner data, the static picture of FL learning, etc. (see Brown, 1994; Granger, 1998; Tono, 2002), these drawbacks were to a great extent overcome by Computer-aided Error Analysis (CEA) (Dagneaux/Denness/Granger 1998), by improving the methodology used and compiling computer learner corpora, i.e. “electronic collections of foreign or second language learner texts assembled according to explicit design criteria” (Granger 2009: 14). The research possibilities offered by computer learner corpora, which can be analysed with corpus linguistics tools, led to their compilation (for an updated overview of learner corpora around the world, see Centre for English Corpus Linguistics website1) and analysis by means of different methodologies, such as CEA, Contrastive Interlanguage Analysis ← 37 | 38 → (CIA) (Granger 1996)2 and the Integrated Contrastive Method (ICM) (Granger 1996; Gilquin 2000/2001), favouring the development of Learner...

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