How to Use Corpora in Language Teaching


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  • Dear Colleagues,A friendly reminder of tomorrow's language teaching workshop:"How to Use Corpus Tools in Language Teaching"Wednesday, February 5, 20144:40-5:45 p.m.267 Willard This workshop offers an overview of how language corpora--collections of authentic textual and/or spoken language samples--can be highly valuable resources for the teaching and learning of second languages.  Examples of available corpora in various languages, including a new corpus tool for learning Chinese, will be shown as models. Topics to be addressed include:The event is free and open to the public.  Light refreshments will be provided.For further information, please contact We hope you will join us!  This workshop  is sponsored by the Center for Language Acquisition (CLA) and the Center for Advanced Language Proficiency Education and Research (CALPER).
  • What is a language corpus?How can learners benefit from working with corpus materials?What do corpus-based activities and assignments look like?How can teachers find and use language corpora in their teaching?
  • Chinese – learning and using the orthographic system. (Bluemel, in press; Tsai & Choi, 2005)German – Learning gender, case, prepositions, and word order. (St. John, 2001)EFL/ESL – Learning articles, prepositions, and aspect (Frankenberg-Garcia, 2005; McEnery & Wilson, 2001)Italian – Verb Tense (Laviosa, 2002)Spanish – lexical and semantic analysis and differentiation (Lavid, Hita, & Zamorano-Mansilla, 2010)
  • Source info – Learner: l1, gender, programSample – date, mode, task, genreWhich numbers matterNumber of tokens, types, categories, samples in each category, and words in each sampleDescriptive adequacyBigger corpus generally better for low frequency words, but note Zipf’s Law (1935) 100K words of spontaneous speech enough for descriptive studies of prosody0.5 million words enough for study of verb-form morphology0.5-1 million words enough for studies of most syntactic processes and high frequency vocabulary Reliability of smaller corpus can be empirically tested against larger corpus Biber (1990)Measured internal variation of 50 pairs of samples from same textsSamples: 2000-5000 words enoughBiber (1993)Used multivariate techniques of factor analysis and cluster analysis to study variationPilot studies necessary to fine-tune structureOne million words good for grammatical studies
  • How to Use Corpora in Language Teaching

    1. 1. How to Use Corpora in Language Teaching Brody Bluemel Department of Applied Linguistics The Pennsylvania State University LANGUAGE TEACHING WORKSHOP SERIES The Pennsylvania State University, February 2014 Sponsored by the Center for Language Acquisition (CLA) and the Center for Advanced Language Proficiency Education and Research (CALPER).
    2. 2. Outline  URL:  Presentation:  What are language corpora?  Approaches to using corpora in language teaching  Introduction to several available resources  Collaborate:  What ideas do you have for using corpora in your classroom?  Discussion:  Share ideas
    3. 3. What are corpora?  Leech (1992): “an unexciting phenomenon, a helluva lot of text, stored on a computer”  Sinclair (1991): “a collection of naturally-occurring language text, chosen to characterize a state or a variety of language”  Sinclair (2004): “a collection of pieces of language text in electronic form, selected according to external criteria to represent, as far as possible, a language or language variety as a source of data for linguistic research”  Corpora: A systematized set of texts, typically accessed electronically, that are used for linguistics research and pedagogy.
    4. 4. Types of Corpora  General vs. Specialized  Native vs. Learner Corpora  Monolingual vs. Translation Corpora  Parallel Corpora, Comparable Corpora, Equivalent Corpora  Language Variation Corpora  Synchronic vs. Diachronic Corpora  Spoken vs. Written Corpora
    5. 5. Approaches to using corpora in language teaching  General vs. Specialized Corpora  Grammar, lexicon, rhetoric, style, expressions, Form ulaic Speech  British National Corpus  American National Corpus  BYU Corpus Interface  MiCase
    6. 6. Approaches to using corpora in language teaching  Native vs. Learner Corpora  Comparison, Analysis, Error Analysis, L1 specific challenges  International Corpus of Learner English (ICLE)  Extensive List of Multilingual Learner Corpora
    7. 7. Approaches to using corpora in language teaching  Translation Corpora  Parallel Corpora  Phrasing, conceptualizing complex concepts, reading comprehension   EU Joint Research Centre  E-C Concord 
    8. 8. Approaches to using corpora in language teaching  Language Variation Corpora  Exploration of dialects  Phonemica  International Corpus of English (ICE)  Synchronic vs. Diachronic Corpora  Language change, modern speech, Understanding novels and other texts  Spoken vs. Written Corpora  Genre and use
    9. 9. Online Resources  Presentation URL:  Multilingual Corpora:  Additional Resources:  Non-English Corpora  Corpus Tools & Websites   Extensive list of Online Corpora  Learner Corpora  Bookmarks for corpus-based linguist  Athel Corpus Resources  The corpora list  CALPER Corpus Tutorial  One of my favorites: 
    10. 10. Primary Resources  Books and journals  Aijmer (2009): Corpora and Language Teaching  Hunston (2002): Corpora in Applied Linguistics  McEnery (2006): Corpus-Based Language Studies  Sinclair (2004): How to Use Corpora in Language Teaching  International Journal of Corpus Linguistics  Corpora 10
    11. 11. Collaborate  In groups of 3-4, discuss ideas, innovations, and questions you have about applying corpus technology in the classroom.  Specific questions to consider:   Questions or applications of corpora that haven’t been discussed?  What challenges do you foresee in applying corpora in teaching?   What unique features about YOUR classroom should be considered? (characteristics of the language you teach, student population, etc.) How would this technology benefit you in your teaching? How do you plan to use corpus technology in your classroom?
    12. 12. Discussion  Share:  Ideas and possible applications of corpora generated in your group discussion  Any key features or aspects of corpora we haven’t yet considered  Questions:  Any questions regarding using corpora, finding resources, or anything else.
    13. 13. Thank You! Contact: Brody Bluemel ( The Pennsylvania State University Department of Applied Linguistics