LINGUIST List 32.3405

Fri Oct 29 2021

Confs: Text/Corpus Linguistics/Italy

Editor for this issue: Everett Green <>

Date: 24-Oct-2021
From: Jennifer Hill <>
Subject: ‘Well … I mean … I don’t know’: Using Corpus Methods to Improve the Representation of Spoken Language in ELT Coursebooks
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‘Well … I mean … I don’t know’: Using Corpus Methods to Improve the Representation of Spoken Language in ELT Coursebooks

Date: 13-Nov-2021 - 13-Nov-2021
Location: Zoom, Italy
Contact: Jennifer Hill
Contact Email: < click here to access email >

Linguistic Field(s): Text/Corpus Linguistics

Meeting Description:

In published classroom materials, norms relating to written language often dominate at the expense of spoken language. In the ELT community, classroom materials are often structured around a consensus-driven syllabus of grammatical structures and functions to be worked through at specific levels of proficiency. This is a mixed bag of structural items, including tense, word class, clause, and of more functionally or thematically-motivated elements. Alongside this, there is a perennial request from learners for more ‘conversation’. However, the features characteristic of everyday spoken language challenge both the prescribed neat checklist of the syllabus and deeply-held opinions relating to usage and acceptability. As a result, they are often missing from mainstream materials. The challenge then is to find a way to include a focus on spoken language that (1) does not require much space on a page, (2) fits within teacher expectations and (3) helps learners improve their conversational competencies. To address this, our research has taken a corpus-based conversation analysis of ‘small words’ (Carter & McCarthy 2017).

Using spoken-corpus data such as that from the Spoken BNC2014, alongside a sample of coursebooks, this paper describes a project offering perspectives and practical solutions for addressing the dearth of interactionally-oriented features in both existing pedagogical materials and in the development of future publications. We present a sample of the results of corpus-based conversation analyses of spontaneous spoken language, focussing specifically on the language used (1) to open and close turns and (2) to repair breakdowns in communication. We also illustrate the presence and absence of these features in classroom resources and consider opportunities to include them. Drawing on research such as Wong and Zhang (2010), Carroll (2011) and Barraja-Rohan (2011), we consider how these items can be included in course materials, and how they can be exploited pedagogically.

Niall Curry (Coventry University, UK) Geraldine Mark (Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick, Ireland)

To register for the event please sign up using the following link no later than Tuesday 9th November 2021:
You will receive a Zoom link by email several days prior to the event.

For FURTHER INFORMATION, please contact Jennifer Hill, Local Group Coordinator, at

This event is open to TESOL Italy members. For non-members, a free, one-time provisional membership is available. The conditions are explained on the sign-up form. Certificates of attendance are available upon request and after the completion of an online feedback survey.*

*TESOL Italy (con i suoi gruppi locali) è riconosciuta come ente qualificato alla formazione e all’aggiornamento per insegnanti di lingua inglese nelle scuole di ogni ordine e grado-Autorizzazione MIUR, Direttiva 90/2003.

Page Updated: 29-Oct-2021