"In this book, Richard Kern explores how technology matters to language and the ways in which we use it. Kern reveals how material, social and individual resources interact in the design of textual meaning, and how that interaction plays out across contexts of communication, different situations of technological mediation, and different moments in time."
Review of Corpora, Language, Teaching, and Resources: From Theory to Practice
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
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.
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.
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
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