Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey

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EDUC 8570

CALLPED:CorpusLing & LangTeach

Corpus linguistics uses computer-assisted techniques and large electronic collections of texts (written or transcribed spoken) to investigate how people use language in different settings. Corpus techniques are helpful for language teaching because they allow you to help students learn vocabulary and grammar that is appropriate for different contexts, rather than focusing just on what is grammatical or ungrammatical. If you’ve ever felt frustrated telling a learner “That’s not really wrong, but it just doesn’t sound right to me,” corpus linguistics is likely to appeal to you. If you’re concerned about adjusting what you teach so students are prepared for academic reading and writing, or casual speech, or an ESP area, corpus linguistics will definitely be useful. In addition, corpus linguistics lends itself well to methods of teaching that develop learner autonomy. Plus, for anyone who gets a kick out of seeing what people do with language, corpus investigations can be just plain fun.

This intensive weekend course will be a fast way to get to know basic tools and skills that you will then be able to extend on your own. We’ll cover the why, what, and how of five specific areas:

• Analyzing a corpus (e.g. What are useful questions to investigate? What corpus is appropriate? How can you or students make sense of an overwhelming number of results? How can you or students make accurate generalizations but not overgeneralize?)

• Supplementing a textbook with corpus investigations (e.g. What textbook information is useful to check in a corpus? How can you decide what is important to add? How can you get examples that are representative? How can you judge corpus-based or corpus-informed textbooks?)

• Designing materials from a corpus (e.g. How traditional or unusual should your materials look? When should students be doing their own corpus searches and how can you guide them? How can you balance the difficulty of the materials and the level of the students? )

• Making your own corpus of learner texts or for a specific context (e.g. What do you need to compile? How do you format texts? Do you need to add any special coding? How big is big enough?)

• Available corpora and tools (e.g. What corpora represent World Englishes, English as a Lingua Franca, translation, and languages other than English? What tools are available and how much do they cost? Where can you go in the future to keep up with corpus developments?)

We will work together with examples in English, but you are welcome to try searches or do projects with other languages (as long as you have access to a corpus). We will use some free internet sites and a free software package that has Windows, Mac and Linux versions.

Prep before the weekend: A few background readings (with a practical, applied orientation) and discussion questions to think about. Software downloading.

Project after the weekend: A small materials development project that incorporates corpus linguistics techniques. You can use a publicly available corpus or compile your own. Your materials can supplement a textbook lesson or fill another need you have identified for a group of learners. I will get the projects and send you feedback electronically.

Language Education
Transltn, Interpret & Lang Edu
Requirements Fulfilled:


Spring 2017 - MIIS, MIIS Workshop

EDUC8570A-S17 Lecture (Reppen)