LINGUIST List 13.1800

Wed Jun 26 2002

Disc: Review: Applied Ling: Hinkel 2002

Editor for this issue: Karen Milligan <>


  1. Tom Cobb, Re: 13.1742, Disc: Review: Applied Ling: Hinkel (2002)

Message 1: Re: 13.1742, Disc: Review: Applied Ling: Hinkel (2002)

Date: Wed, 26 Jun 2002 18:36:04 -0400
From: Tom Cobb <cobb.tomUQAM.CA>
Subject: Re: 13.1742, Disc: Review: Applied Ling: Hinkel (2002)

I share Ron Sheen'ss concern that many claims about the
relevance of corpus linguistics to language learning have been and
remain short on specifics, whether concerning learning practices or
course design. Below I report on some work I have done to remedy the

Regarding learning practices, in my thesis study I investigated the
claim that language learners would be able to get some use from the
tools of corpus linguists' concordances and the like. Such
claims were often made throughout the 1980s but with almost no
empirical testing that I was able to find. My finding in a preliminary
(1997) and then larger scale study (1999) was that with the provision
of a clear learning goal, and with a very large amount of conceptual
and software adaptation, tools like concordancers could indeed provide
modest but measurable learning advantages. Specifically, learning L2
vocabulary with multiple examples of words as provided by a
concordance program gave learners one of the benefits of L1 word
learning, viz. an increased ability to reinterpret learned words in
novel contexts. These studies did not as far as I know lead to a rush
of either similar studies or increased numbers of programs adopting
"data-driven learning" for they came when the fad was
apparently drawing to a close.

Regarding corpus analysis and course design, I have not read Hinkel`s
book as yet but it seems similar to Sylviane Granger`s (1998) Learner
English on Computer (Longman), which offers several studies comparing
native speaker and learner writing. Like Ron Sheen, I found the
pedagogical implications of these studies were too often merely
implied rather than developed, so in my recent replication (to appear
in CMLR) of four of the Granger studies in a Quebec learner context, I
developed pedagogical themes at the end of each replication.

A web version of this paper appears in the references below--a
pre- publication version that I hope CMLR will not object to my
sharing. URLs for all three papers can be found at


Cobb, T. (In press). Introduction to learner corpus analysis. Accepted
Canodian Modern Langage Review, June 2002. Draft paper.

Cobb, T. (1997) Is there any measurable learning from hands-on
concordancing? System, 25, 301-315.

Cobb, T. (1999). Applying constructivism: A test for the learner-as-
scientist. Educational Technology Research & Development, 47 (3),
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