Instroduce self, how I got interested in corpora. Ask participants (if fewer than 15 to introduce themselves to the group, if more than 15 give them 5 minutes to introduce themselves to as many people as they can. Before we get started, I thought I´d give you a practical exercise related to today’s topic
Pair work (5 minutes) Analyis the lines. What does each mean? Try to put it into a context. Look at the parts of speech before and after
Why we care: Limited amount of time we can spend of vocabulary so we need to be efficient. (GET INFO ABOUT IMPORTANCE OF INFREQUENT WORDS AND HOW WE SHOULD HANDLE THEM)
Ask participants to tell me the meaning of bet
Ask students to look at the first 10 lines and have them mark which have the same meaning as in the book.
Ask entire group what they know about the MWU “break out”. Work in small groups (10 min). 1. Ask participants to tell us what they can about the context of break out. Encourage them to look at the words that accompany this mw. Ask them to determine the connotation, words that seem to accompany the MWU. Ask each group to share one thing they discovered
The unmarked, or usual usage, is with men. Language is never absolute and when we use a word in a marked way, it is usually to call special attention. If I use taciturn to describe a woman, I would be probably trying to stress that her behavior was like a man’s
Pinpointing these particular areas and providing examples of real usage can prevent the fossilization of the expressions, which don’t interfere with communication but will fine tune the language production
Ask participants to identify the what kind of word comes before and after the key word
It is good to give students several opportunities to do this activity with different texts to get them comfortable with how to read concordance lines and with the thinking they will need to do.
Making English Real Anna Gates
MAKING ENGLISH REAL:
THE USE OF CORPUS DATA
Anna M. Gates
UniversidadTécnica Particular de Loja
Welcome to the world of corpora
Activity 1 (20 minutes)
Instructions Part 1 (10 minutes)
Read the first page of your packet
Superfoods: ProtectYour Body by Eating Right
Highlight the target word
Group 1: Food
Group 2: Like
Group 3: May
Group 5: Family
Group 6: Which
Part 2 Instructions
on board (5
What can we
notice about the
target word or the
Let’s explore the world of corpora
What are corpora?
Collections or databases
What are Concordance
Today we are going to focus on
English Language Corpora and how
to take advantage of the wealth of
information in our own classrooms
Reading concordance lines
Concordance lines indiscriminately include some
number of words before the main word and some
number of words after.
This means there are often incomplete sentences
However, the general idea can be understood
Students need to note where the action takes
place or what the situation is
Let’s look at….Hire
experts recommend that new co-ops hire paid staff. Professionally run stores
I'm going to hire people to market across the country.
to frighten companies who hire undocumented workers.
In some cases, caregivers hire home health aides or support staff
information about fire closures. Hire Big Sur Hiking Guides,
has a new dilemma:Who will he hire to maximize Rose?
coach K, who turned out to be a sharp hire after hoops insiders
Revolution of corpus linguistics in the
past 25 years
Survey of English
Usage (early 1960’s)
Brown Corpus (1964)
One million words Over 250 million words
What can corpora tell us about
Frequency of words
What is the most frequent word in the
Why would we care to know what the most
frequent words in English are?
The meanings of bet
As we know, the same word
often has more than one
meaning. Corpora can help use
know what meaning of a word is
most frequently used
For example: bet (13,648 hits)
To gamble: as in “he bet $1 on the
game” (fewer than 100)
A supposition: “I bet that you and your
family are happy” (172)
An option: as in “our best bet is to use
our voice” (724 hits)
How textbooks treat vocabulary
Diana was surprised when
the dinner guests appeared
an hour early.
The meaning is to be or
become physically present
Terribly urgent, a phrase
presented in a basic level
Textbooks often misrepresent the
most important uses of words, or
the most important words to use
How textbooks treat vocabulary
Concordance lines for appeared
Less than 62% of the examples use the same
meaning as the text.
The other significant meaning is to indicate a
Terribly urgent only appears 5 times in a 37 million
Corpora help us see how native English speakers most often use the
Contexts of words
In addition to finding out the most common
meanings of words, corpora can help us know
under what situations the words are most
Let’s look at this in a corpus
Making the learning of words
The activity we have just completed demanded
observation and critical thinking, two essential
skills that good teachers will develop in their
Students will be unlikely to forget the meanings
and context of the word when it is actively
Gender in English?
As we know, the English language doesn’t have a
gender consideration in its syntax, however there
are some words that are more commonly used
when talking about women (or men) that wouldn’t
be used with the other sex.
Can you think of any?
A corpus can help us.
Gender in English?
Let’s consider the word “taciturn”. This means
habitually silent, reserved, or uncommunicative . Do
you think that it is most often used when describing
men or women?
Let’s look at the corpus
8 of 31 unsure of the sex of the people referred to meaning
75% of the use of the word is with men and 25% of the
time doesn’t provide enough information to know for sure.
Are we teaching real English
Corpus evidence shows that much of the grammar
typically taught from textbooks is not as relevant in “real
life” communication as they lead us to believe.
For example, reported speech.
Typical textbook example:
“I’m coming to see you tomorrow”
Reported speech: “He said he was coming to see me tomorrow”
In actual usage:
“He said he`s coming to see me tomorrow”
“He said he’d come tomorrow”
Textbook grammar shouldn’t be discarded, but it should be
complemented by real usage examples based on corpus
The fine art of collocation
Collocation is the typical groupings of
words, or words that tend to go
Learning these will make the EFL
students’ production more natural.
When there are similar expressions in
Spanish and English, L1 interference is
Examples from advanced Ecuadorian
speakers of English
Use of “do” and “make”
What to look for:Working with
students and concordance lines
Part of speech of the word(s) that precedes or
follows a particular word.
Let’s look at the word Grow
What can you tell me about this word?
No computers in class? No problem
Using concordance activities is recommended at all
Before attempting to use concordance lines in class, it
is important that:
The students have a good learner dictionary
You teach them how to read concordance lines
You teach them how to write their own concordance lines
Identify some aspect of the language students are studying in their textbook
(vocabulary or grammar).
Locate an authentic reading source that contains several instances of the word or
grammatical structure, ideally this should have been previously read for communicative
Ask students to reread the material, but have them highlight the focus word or
In groups ask them to write concordance lines for all of the occasions in which the word
Ask them to identify all the examples that have the same meaning and use as they have
studied in their textbook
Ask them to guess the meaning, part of speech of example that don’t seem to have the
Corpus of American English
The Free Dictionary
Tower of English
Fox, G. (2008). Using corpus data in the classroom. In B.
Tomlinson (Ed.), Materials development in language
teaching (pp. 25-43). Cambridge: Cambridge University
Haugnes, N. & Maher B. (2004). NorthStar reading and
writing. NewYork: Pearson Education
Willis, J. (2008). Concordances in the classroom without a
computer: Assembling and exploiting concordances of
common words. In B.Tomlinson (Ed.), Materials
development in language teaching (pp. 44-66). Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press