LINGUIST List 13.2739

Wed Oct 23 2002

Review: Applied Linguistics: Kettemann and Marko (2002)

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  1. svetlana kurtes, Teaching and Learning by Doing Corpus Analysis

Message 1: Teaching and Learning by Doing Corpus Analysis

Date: 23 Oct 2002 14:33:39 -0000
From: svetlana kurtes <>
Subject: Teaching and Learning by Doing Corpus Analysis

Kettemann, Bernhard and Georg Marko (eds) 2002.
Teaching and Learning by Doing Corpus Analysis,
Rodopi, viii+390pp, hardback ISBN 90-420-1450-4, Language and Computers:
Studies in Practical Linguistics 42.

Book Announcement on Linguist:

Svetlana Kurtes
Language Centre, University of Cambridge, UK
'Teaching and learning by doing corpus analysis', edited by Bernhard
Kettemann and Georg Marko (henceforth the editors), represents the
proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on Teaching and
Language Corpora, held in Graz (Austria), 19-24 July 2000. There are
23 paper in the volume, classified in 6 thematic chapters: 'General
aspects of corpus linguistics'; 'Corpus-based teaching material',
'Data-driven learning', 'Learner corpora', 'Corpus analysis of ESP for
teaching purposes', 'Corpus analysis and the teaching of
translation'. In the editors' introduction it has been pointed out
that 'there is [...] a growing number of people who believe that
learning a language, learning about a language and learning through a
language might greatly benefit from an inductive approach. Through the
analysis of large corpora of authentic language [...], learners do no
longer have to rely on the intuitions of prescriptive scholars but can
inductively draw their own conclusions, which seems to be a highly
desirable goal in the age of 'learner autonomy' (p.1). There is also a
short introductory word by Tony McEnery entitled ''TALC 4 ' where are
we going?' giving a historical background on the Teaching and Language
Corpora (TALC) conferences. A list of contributors (with brief
biographical details) and a subject index are appended.
Guy Aston's paper 'The learner as corpus designer', opening the first
thematic chapter 'General aspects of corpus linguistics', discusses
the pedagogical benefits of 'home-made' corpora, maintaining that they
should be seen as more appropriate than pre-compiled ones 'insofar as
they can be specifically targeted to the learner's knowledge and
concerns [...], permit[ting] analyses which would not otherwise be
readily feasible [...].' The examples are taken from the BNC Sampler.
In her paper 'The time dimension in modern English corpus linguistics'
Antoinette Renouf highlights the importance of developing an automated
system able to identify and record features of a language seen as a
synchronic entity, but also take into account important features of
its diachronic change. The author in particular focuses on an ongoing
lexical change in Modern English, concluding that modern diachronic
English corpus linguistics 'is an area ripe for growth' (p.39).
Mike Scott's contribution 'Picturing the key words of a very large
corpus and their lexical upshots or getting at the Guardian's view of
the world' reports on the results of an analysis of some 800,000
newspaper articles taken from 'The Guardian' from 1984 to the
present. An extensive key word database has been compiled and produced
as a CD-ROM, also enclosed with the volume. Interrelationships between
the key words are briefly presented and illustrated with appropriate
examples and further applications for language teaching are noted.
'Where did we go wrong? A retrospective look at the British National
Corpus' is the title of Lou Burnard's paper, which reviews the design
and management issues and decisions taken during the construction of
the BNC. It also describes the new World Edition of the BNC and the
associated SARA retrieval package. The author is of the opinion that
it would be very useful to build a series of BNC-like corpora at
regular intervals, preferably every decade, enabling the linguists to
watch 'the river of language flow and change across time' (p.68).
Chapter 2 ('Corpus-base teaching material') opens with Averil
Coxhead's paper 'The academic word list: a corpus-based word list for
academic purposes' outlining the principles of vocabulary learning and
corpus linguistics which guided the development of the Academic World
List (Coxhead 1998) based on a corpus of approx. 3,500,000 running
words of written academic prose. The author maintains that the most
prominent principles underpinning the study are those claiming that
teachers should teach materials which are relevant to the learners,
that they should teach the most useful vocabulary no matter what the
student subject area is, and, finally, the most important words should
be dealt with first. The word-lists are appended.
Dieter Mindt's article 'A corpus-based grammar for ELT' presents major
characteristics of a new grammar (Mindt 2000), appearing as a result
of ten years' work on the English verb system. It is fully
corpus-based and especially geared to the requirements of ELT,
addressing in particular the needs of advanced learners of
English. All examples provided are authentic and frequency data are
given wherever possible.
Tim Johns' article 'Data-driven learning: the perpetual challenge'
opens Chapter 3('Data-driven learning'). The author outlines the
development of an approach to the use of corpus data in language
learning and teaching, tracing it briefly from the early 1980s, when
the COBUILD project, directed by John Sinclair, was set up at
Birmingham University (Sinclair 1987).
'Empowering non-native speakers: the hidden surplus value of corpora
in Continental English departments' is the title of Christian Mair's
contribution, in which the author discusses the role of corpora in
enabling non-native speaking students of English 'to develop a
rational view of the authority and limitation of native-speaker
intuition, thus dispelling an unfounded and unproductive mystique
frequently surrounding the native speaker and his/her judgement
[...]'(p. 125). English departments in German universities are taken
as an illustration.
Gunter Lorenz's article, entitled 'Language corpora rock the base: on
standard English grammar, perfective aspect and seemingly adverse
corpus evidence', discusses how the English language corpora, by
making authentic language available for language teaching, have helped
to redefine the notion of standard language to which language learners
should aspire. Taking the perfective verbal aspect as an example, the
paper re-examines the concept of 'grammatical rule' in learning and
teaching English.
'Toward automating a personalized concordancer for data-driven
learning: a lexical difficulty filter for language learners' is a
contribution by David Wible, Chin-Hwa Kuo, Feng-yi Chien and C C Wang
in which the authors present a novel teaching tool, called the Lexical
Difficulty Filter (LDF), developed to increase the control over the
examples retrieved from corpus and concordancing resources, in
particular the control over the level of difficulty of the retrieved
material. The authors also propose further refinements and extensions
to the LDF.
John M Kirk's paper 'Teaching critical skills in corpus linguistics
using the BNC' proposes a methodology comprising two main pro formas:
one for corpus searching and one for reading scholarly articles,
through which students prepare themselves for a project-based
assessment. The author maintains that corpora can be used 'for the
purpose of enabling students to learn about the structure of English,
develop a descriptive and theoretical vocabulary, and cultivate a
methodology for dealing analytically with [...] language' (p. 154;
also Kirk 1994:29).
Silvia Bernardini contribution is entitled 'Exploring new directions
for discovering learning'. The author discusses the role of corpora in
providing rich sources of autonomous learning activities. Learners
'are introduced to a number of corpus tools and guided to progress
from more convergent activities to autonomous browsing'
(p.165). Positive and negative sides of this approach are discussed
and some suggestions for further improvements are put forward.
'The CWIC project: developing and using a corpus for intermediate
Italian students', a contribution by Claire Kennedy and Tiziana
Miceli, presents major issues of the compilation of a corpus of
contemporary written Italian (CWIC) and its integration into the
Italian studies programme at Griffith University in Australia. The
authors discuss some linguistic, pedagogical and practical issues in
the selection and preparation of the material, concluding with some
observations on the evaluation process.
Natalie Kubler ('Linguistic concerns in teaching with language
corpora') discusses how the web-based environment for language
teaching can enable students to understand sentence segmentation,
multi-word units, ambiguity problems and other linguistic
phenomena. The model was developed at the University of Paris 7 at the
department of Intercultural Studies and Applied Languages.
Chapter 4 ('Learner corpora') opens with Ylva Berglund and Oliver
Mason's article 'The influence of external factors on learner
performance'. The authors report on the initial stage of a research
project examining the relationship of different types of texts
exclusively on the basis of external parameters. The proposed method
will enable the analysis of language learner data, identifying 'how
such data differs from the production of native speakers' (p.205). The
paper presents the reasoning behind the project and describes the
method developed in more detail.
'How to trace the growth in learners' active vocabulary?' is the title
of Agnieszka Lenko-Szymanska' article in which the author reports on a
study 'whose aim was to compare the validity, applicability and
meaningfulness of two measures of lexical richness, lexical variation
and lexical sophistication, for tracing the growth in learners' free
active lexicon' (p. 217). The research was based on a selection of
texts from the PELCRA corpus of learner English compiled at the
University of Lodz.
John Flowerdew's contribution entitled 'Computer-assisted analysis of
language learner diaries: a qualitative application of word frequency
and concordancing software' demonstrates a more qualitative
application word frequency and concordancing programmes. The author
presents the experience of the English language teacher education
programme at Hong Kong University, where the students are asked to
focus on various aspects of the learning process and keep a weekly
diary in which they record their reflections. The author analysed the
students' notes and reported on their preoccupation as language
learners and the identification of key words used by means of a word
frequency programme.
Chapter 5 ('Corpus analysis of ESP for teaching purposes') opens with
David Lee's paper entitled 'Genres, registers, text types, domains and
styles: clarifying the concepts and navigating a path through the BNC
jungle'. The author clarifies the notions of register, text type,
domain, style, sublanguage, message form, etc, checking them against
the BNC files. It has been proposed that a database containing genre
labels will hugely facilitate genre-based research (such as EAP, ESP,
discourse analysis, lexico-grammatical and collocational studies).
'Some thoughts on the problem of representing ESP through small
corpora', a contribution by Laura Gavioli, discusses the problem of
corpus representativeness. In particular, the author raises the issue
of small corpus representativeness and criteria used in design of
small corpora of specialized language used in ESP teaching and
learning environments.
In his paper 'Modal verbs in academic writing', Paul Thompson reports
on an investigation of the uses of modal auxiliary verbs in a corpus
of PhD theses written by native speakers of English. The Reading
Academic Text corpus, established in 1996, is composed of 39 PhD
theses coming from two departments: Agricultural Botany and
Agricultural Economics. It was established as a resource for research
into academic writing practices and EAP pedagogy.
The last chapter, 'Corpus analysis and the teaching of translation',
opens with Federico Zanettin's article 'CEXI: designing an English
Italian translational corpus'. The author reports on project aiming to
construct a bilingual corpus at the School for Translators and
Interpreters of the University of Bologna in Forli. It is a
bi-directional, parallel, translation-driven corpus, consisting of
over 4 million words found in text samples published between 1975 and
'Mandative constructions in English and their equivalents in French:
applying a bilingual approach to the theory and practice of
translation' is Noelle Serpollet's paper, the objective of which is to
analyse those French constructions that are translated by occurrences
of mandative 'should' in English (e.g. 'I insisted that he should
change his clothes'). Serpollet reports on a systematic analysis of
two grammatically tagged corpora of British English (The
Lancaster-Oslo/Bergen Corpus and the Freiburg-LOB Corpus), as well as
the bilingual corpus INTERSECT (The International sample of English
Contrastive Texts Corpus). The author briefly explores the impact of
corpus linguistics on translation studies.
Claudia Claridge's paper is entitled 'Translating phrasal verbs' and
it brings up the question of phrasal and prepositional verbs in
English and German, focusing in particular on potential problems
German learners of English can encounter while acquiring this part of
English idiomaticity.
The present volume encompasses a variety of papers raising relevant
issues in the theory and practice of corpus linguistics implemented
into language pedagogy. The editors successfully managed to select a
representative body of contributions delivered at the 4th
International Conference on Teaching and Language Corpora (TALC),
involving both practitioners and theorists from various academic and
non-academic fields. The papers are carefully thematically grouped
into six chapters, the descriptive labels of which address the central
thematic category around which the papers cluster. In spite of an
impressive variety of topics discussed and approaches deployed, the
editors' choice exhibits a real mastery in maintaining a strong
theoretical and methodological coherence of the volume. It is no doubt
one of the main reasons why it will attract the attention of a wide
audience, comprising both academics and professionals in the fields of
corpus and computational linguistics, language pedagogy, theory and
practice of translation, stylistics (genre analysis in particular),
lexicography, information retrieval, etc.
The originality of ideas expressed and their practical application
illustrated and discussed represent a genuine contribution to the
subject fields mentioned, advancing our understanding of their key
issues and pointing at the possible directions to be taken in research
and its implementation. Therefore, we have no hesitation in
recommending the volume to the attention of the target audience.
Just one suggestion, perhaps. Although the majority of contributions
deal with the various issues of English electronic corpora, a number
of papers also take into account work with multilingual corpora, which
is certainly praiseworthy. It would be very informative, though, to
include discussions dealing with the problems of the corpora of less
commonly taught languages and endangered languages, their compilation,
practical implementation, etc. Maybe one of the future TALC
conferences can tackle the issue.
Coxhead, A 1998. 'The development and evaluation of an academic world
list', unpublished MA thesis, Victoria University of Wellington,
Kirk, J M 1994. 'Teaching and language corpora: the Queen's
approach'. In Wilson A and A McEnery: Teaching and language corpora,
University of Lancaster Department of Modern English Language and
Linguistics Technical Reports, Lancaster.
Mindt, D 2000. 'An empirical grammar of the English verb system',
Cornelsen, Berlin.
Sinclair, J M 1987. 'Looking up: an account of the COBUILD project in
lexical computing, Collins Cobuild, Birmingham.
About the Reviewer
Svetlana Kurtes holds a BA in English Philology and an MA in
Sociolinguistics from Belgrade University and an MPhil in Applied
Linguistics from Cambridge University. She worked as a Lecturer in
English at Belgrade University and is currently affiliated to
Cambridge University Language Centre. Her research interests involve
contrastive linguistics, sociolinguistics, pragmatics/stylistics,
translation theory and language pedagogy.
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