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Review of  Corpora, Language, Teaching, and Resources: From Theory to Practice


Reviewer: 'Duygu Candarli' ['Duygu Candarli'] Duygu Candarli
Book Title: Corpora, Language, Teaching, and Resources: From Theory to Practice
Book Author: Natalie Kübler
Publisher: Peter Lang AG
Linguistic Field(s): Applied Linguistics
Computational Linguistics
Text/Corpus Linguistics
Translation
Book Announcement: 23.1926

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Review:
EDITOR: Natalie Kübler
TITLE: Corpora, Language, Teaching, and Resources: From Theory to Practice
SERIES TITLE: Etudes Contrastives -- Volume 12
PUBLISHER: Peter Lang
YEAR: 2011

Duygu Çandarlı, Department of Foreign Language Education, Boğaziçi University,
İstanbul, Turkey

SUMMARY

This volume, which is organized into four parts, addresses the use of corpora,
learner corpora analysis, creation of resources, and tools and evaluation of
corpora in foreign language teaching. The selected papers that were presented at
the 7th Teaching and Language Corpora Conference in 2006 challenge the readers
to reconsider the role of corpora in language teaching by expanding the range of
corpus linguistics research. The editor presents the book and briefly
summarizes each chapter in the introduction. There, she argues that the volume
will contribute to the literature by strengthening the relationship between
corpora and language-related learning and teaching.

Part I, “Bringing corpus use to effective practice,” explores the ways in which
corpora can be exploited in the classroom context with learners. In the first
paper, Kettemann and Marko illustrate how corpus linguistic tools and
data-driven learning can be used to teach critical discourse analysis. They
assess students’ research diaries, questionnaires and students’ papers in order
to evaluate their practice. They note that even though students’ motivation
increases, contradictory results are found in terms of learner autonomy, which
is attributed to lack of competence and confidence in using corpora. They also
state that the benefits of using data-driven learning in teaching critical
discourse analysis outweigh the shortcomings. Similarly, in the second paper,
Philip examines the role of corpora in teaching phraseology and concludes that
there are some qualitative differences in the phraseological patterns by corpora
users. He argues that these differences are not simply due to the fact that the
learners are corpus users but are because they already have good language
learner characteristics. In the next paper, Boulton presents direct applications
of corpus tools in language learning and other areas, such as politics, music,
and history. MA students are encouraged to apply corpus linguistics to their
research projects and discover corpus tools by themselves. Within this process,
the study reveals that corpus consultation increases students’ motivation, which
in turn can improve students’ skills that are transferable across disciplines
(Römer, 2006). In the third paper, a study of the French verb “jouer” in a
French journalistic corpus, Chambers indicates that corpora can provide learners
with the examples of not only grammatical patterns of the verb, but also literal
and metaphorical meaning. She goes on to argue that the corpus data can enable
students to access a richer and multicontextual learning environment. In another
study on corpus evidence for teaching adverbial connectors, Charles examines the
position, negation and rhetorical functions of contrastive adverbs in two
corpora of theses and points out that students’ awareness of rhetorical
functions of those adverbs should be raised since the adverbs have certain
specific rhetorical functions. Several pedagogical implications are given in
order to help students develop a deeper understanding of the grammatical
patterns and rhetorical functions of contrastive adverbs. In the next paper,
Rij-Heyligers shows that applying corpus linguistics to genre and critical
discourse analysis can foster learners’ awareness of collocates and co-text in
academic discourse, which may help to write better research papers and articles.
He emphasizes that by combining those approaches, learners will be aware of
social conventions of academic discourse. In the next paper, Krausse analyzes
semantic preference, semantic prosody and attested collocations of some specific
vocabulary items in environmental engineering in comparison with General
English. Corpus analysis shows that lexical and semantic information is
essential for ESP learners in order for them to use specialist language
correctly. Krausse comes up with some suggestions, such as explicit teacher
instruction and discovery learning to enhance learning semantic preferences and
prosodies of those vocabulary items. In the last paper of Part I, Schmied
explores the use of two translation corpora in contrastive linguistic analysis.
The process regarding the multilingual corpora consultation is explained in
detail. Schmied claims that multilingual corpora can be very useful in
discovering fine similarities and differences in closely related languages,
which will be relevant for translation studies, language learning and teaching,
and contrastive linguistics.

Part II, “Learner corpora analysis”, which consists of two papers, focuses on
the analysis of learners’ process and evolution in learning a foreign language.
In the first paper, Jimenez-Caycedo and Gebhard compare their students’ personal
narratives with larger reference corpora and identify whether these students
have developed their writing ability. By combining corpus-based language
analysis with genre analysis, they find that learners’ texts changed from having
features of spoken language to features of written discourse, based on frequency
data. They claim that in addition to frequency data, keyword analysis in
comparison with other corpora can shed more light on the students’ writing
capacity and development. In the other paper of Part II, Bedmar and Pedrosa
investigate the use of prepositions by Spanish learners of English in a
four-year longitudinal corpus. Based on Granger’s Integrated Contrastive Model
(1996), they identify the most problematic prepositions for learners and four
patterns of development in the use of prepositions. The authors attribute
students’ problems with prepositions to L1 influence. In accordance with the
results of the study, they put forward some suggestions for EFL materials and
teaching practices to teach prepositions more effectively.

In Part 3, “Resources and tools: Creation,” which contains 5 papers, the
creation of corpus resources and tools are addressed. The authors describe and
discuss various ways of designing a corpus and its tools. In the first paper in
this section, Castagnoli et al. provide a very detailed description of the
development of the MeLLANGE corpus, which has been aligned and annotated at
various levels. They argue that this learner translator corpus (LTC) provides
translator trainers and trainees with an opportunity to discover translation
problems and solutions. The authors provide useful applications of the LTC for
both teaching and research purposes. They suggest that the LTC can be used for
designing e-learning materials, identifying common language and translation
errors, teaching other translation-related subjects and autonomous learning. In
the second paper, Pecman offers a model for analyzing collocations in scientific
discourse by creating phraseological corpus-based data and using a combinatorial
conceptual framework. She believes that this framework can facilitate the
transfer of the collocational profile of lexical items from the source language
to the target language and improve writing skills, especially in the academic
domain. In the third paper, Tsaknasi presents a method for automatically
recognizing Greek proverbs in texts and discusses its applications in foreign
language teaching and learning, cultural studies and translation. A finite state
transducers (FSTs) library is created in order to recognize proverbs, and the
library is presented briefly. Tsaknasi states that FSTs can enable learners and
teachers to study authentic texts, focus on pragmatics, practice translation
techniques and identify cultural and linguistic similarities and differences. In
the fourth paper, Martin introduces a software program called WinPitch Corpus,
describes its features and discusses its applications in a classroom context.
WinPitch has a large number of functionalities, such as assisted transcription,
alignment, prosodic morphing, automatic lexicon and instructor annotations,
etc., for teaching oral and written material. It is easily downloadable from the
internet and can be used under the guidance of teachers or by students at their
own pace. WinPitch allows students to do in-depth analysis of language and carry
out comprehension exercises. In the final paper of this section, Kraif and Tutin
explain the creation of a bilingual annotated corpus of academic papers in
English and French. The corpus has been annotated for semi-frozen expressions
which are specific to academic writing. The authors show that how this
syntactically and semantically annotated corpus can be exploited as an academic
writing aid.

The last part of the book, “Resources: Evaluation”, which is comprised of two
papers, deals with the evaluation of corpus resources. In the first paper,
Chiari assesses the effectiveness of two written and spoken corpora of Italian
in teaching language variation to learners of Italian as a second language. The
advantages and problems of those corpora in teaching language variation are
identified according to the features of the corpora, such as size, search query,
design and tools. She also makes some recommendations for retrieval and
documentation tools for future use in teaching language variation. In the final
paper of the book, Williams evaluates three major leaners’ dictionaries in terms
of scientific usage and concludes that dictionaries tend to fail to address the
needs of ESP/EAP learners. Therefore, he suggests a corpus-based approach that
provides learners with information that cannot be found in dictionaries.

EVALUATION

The book is a very valuable resource for corpus linguists, practitioners and
foreign language teachers since it presents an overview of corpus linguistics,
its methods and applications in language teaching, translation, linguistics,
literature and cultural studies. In the first part of the book, the authors
discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the use of corpora in different
teaching settings, which can be practical guidance in showing practitioners what
to do and what comes out of doing it. Also, appendices given at the end of the
papers offer the readers a wide variety of corpora and corpus linguistic tools
which can be a substantial reference for further studies and classroom practices.

The third part of the book, related to the creation of corpus tools and
resources, deals quite specifically with computational approaches and natural
language processing issues. Some of the papers in this part might be a bit
technical, and it is questionable whether these papers will interest many
scholars who are not computational linguists. Technical details regarding the
design of corpora might be difficult for people without further specialized
training in natural language processing. However, in one of the papers, a
language teaching software program, WinPitch, can be utilized easily in the
classroom context, as it is user-friendly and easily downloadable from the
internet.

In light of the greater attention given to the diversity of the approaches in
corpus tools, resources and the use of corpora in many areas, the book brings a
newer and more dynamic perspective to interdisciplinary corpus studies since not
only do the chapters contain practical suggestions for how to use readily
available corpora in foreign language teaching, but they also illustrate various
ways in which corpus can be created and exploited for a wide range of purposes
by both students and instructors. Comprehensive research studies in corpus use,
creation, evaluation and learner corpora analysis will challenge practitioners
to consider the applications of corpora in their own context. The authors cover
the benefits and potential shortcomings of corpus use in the classroom, which
gives practitioners practical ideas for improving the applications of it.

The book offers a notable contribution to the field of corpora and language
teaching. Suggestions for further research in most of the chapters will most
likely lead other researchers to pursue further studies in the field. The papers
in the evaluation of corpus resources part are illuminating, and they add
another dimension that will be surely very useful for practitioners that wish to
adapt available corpus resources to their own teaching context.

REFERENCES

Granger, S. (1996). From CA to CIA and back. An integrated approach to
computerized bilingual and learner corpora. In Aijmer K., B. Altenberg & S.
Johansson (eds.) Languages in contrast. Lund: Lund University Press, 37-51.

Römer, U. 2006. Where the computer meets language, literature, and pedagogy:
corpus analysis in English studies. In Gerbig A. & A. Müller-Wood (eds.) How
globalization affects the teaching of English: studying culture through texts.
Lampeter: E. Mellen Press, 81-119.

ABOUT THE REVIEWER
 
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
Duygu Çandarlı is currently working on her MA thesis on learner corpora at Boğaziçi University, Istanbul. She is also a teaching and research assistant at Yıldız Technical University, Istanbul. Her research interests include corpus linguistics, discourse analysis, pragmatics and World Englishes.

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Format: Paperback
ISBN-13: 9783034300544
Pages: 340
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