LING 476/576: Corpus Linguistics in Language Teaching
Instructor: Susan Conrad
Corpus linguistics is a method of analyzing language that uses large collections of writing and transcribed speech that are stored on a computer.
This course will introduce you to the theoretical background of corpus linguistics, issues and controversies in this field, and contributions that corpus linguistics is making to the teaching of languages. The contributions include:
- new reference materials that give information about patterns in language use and describe how native speakers make choices between seemingly synonymous words and structures
- classroom materials that reflect how people actually use the language and give students practice with features rarely covered in textbooks
- computer-based analysis activities for ESL classes that have students act as language researchers
- investigations of varieties of English as a Lingua Franca, discovering what language features are consistent and which vary among speakers;
- testing applications, making sure that language used in tests reflects the situation that it is testing (for example, does the TOEFL test cover language that is used at universities in the US?)
One day each week we will be in a classroom, discussing readings and materials we have looked at. The other day will be spent working in the computer lab. On that day you will be doing corpus linguistics. You will learn to:
- design appropriate investigations for corpus-based analyses, both in terms of the questions to ask and the corpora to use.
- conduct small corpus analysis projects, focusing on some aspect of grammar, vocabulary, lexico-grammar, or a discourse function.
- use a concordancer efficiently (a concordancer is a type of software program often used in corpus linguistics).
- assess corpus-based teaching materials for their teaching effectiveness and their consistency with language patterns found in corpus studies.
- develop a sequence of second language activities that makes use of concordancing in some way.
Prerequisites: LING 390
You do not need any previous experience with corpus linguistics or computers; however, an adventurous spirit for trying new things on a computer is an asset.
Major Assignments: The major assignments are tentatively planned as follows (there may be revisions):
- Materials development project (using corpus linguistics in some way, but not necessarily developing computer-based materials)
- Analysis of existing teaching materials
- Weekly worksheets covering small corpus analyses
- Summary/reaction paper based on reading published articles (grad students only)
There are numerous small homework assignments. You will need time to prepare for every class meeting.
Textbooks: Set of readings (no textbook); purchase of computer software required (MonoConc Pro 2.2). Special class price of $45 (normally $80).
Other Relevant Information: In the past, some students have made materials for teaching a language other than English (e.g. Russian). This often requires a little more troubleshooting and more independence in finding corpora, but it is a possibility.
LING 476/576 counts as an elective in the "Language Education/Applied Linguistics Theory" section of the M.A. TESOL curriculum.