An Empirical Study on a Computer-Based Corpus Approach

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  • Topic: Corpus linguistics, Language, Applied linguistics
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  • Published : April 3, 2013
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An Empirical Study on a Computer-Based Corpus Approach
to English Vocabulary Teaching and Learning

Song Yunxia Sun Zhuo Yang Min
Foreign Languages Section of Agriculture Division of Jilin University, Changchun 130062
dasera@sima.com

Abstract

This paper investigates the effectiveness of a computer-based corpus approach to English vocabulary teaching and learning. The empirical study in this paper illustrates that the use of corpus does benefit English vocabulary teaching and learning but there are some problems in its application. Pedagogical implications are then provided to enhance the effective integration of corpus and English Vocabulary Teaching and Learning: 1) teachers and learners need to negotiate frequently during the whole process of corpus-based DDL; 2) corpus use in vocabulary teaching and learning must adapt to the students’ needs and teaching environments; 3) the alternative use of corpus and dictionaries will enhance the efficiency of corpus-based vocabulary learning of the students; 4) Integrating cooperative learning and DDL will promote students’ vocabulary learning greatly. Keywords: Corpus; English Vocabulary Teaching and Learning; information technology

1.Introduction

1.1.Corpus Linguistics

With the conspicuous development of information technology and computer science, corpus linguistics has become a prominent part of modern linguistics. Corpus linguistics uses large electronic databases of ‘real life’ language to examine hypotheses about language use and linguistics theories(Leech, 1997). These can be tested scientifically with computerized analytical tools, without the researcher's preconceptions influencing their conclusions. Corpus Linguistics has generated a number of research methods, attempting to trace a path from data to theory. Wallis and Nelson (2001) first introduced what they called the 3A perspective: Annotation, Abstraction and Analysis. ·Annotation consists of the application of a scheme to texts. Annotations may include structural markup, POS-tagging, parsing, and numerous other representations. ·Abstraction consists of the translation (mapping) of terms in the scheme to terms in a theoretically motivated model or dataset. Abstraction typically includes linguist-directed search but may include e.g., rule-learning for parsers. ·Analysis consists of statistically probing, manipulating and generalizing from the dataset. Analysis might include statistical evaluations, optimization of rule-bases or knowledge discovery methods. With so many research methods, corpus has great potential to be applied to ESL teaching and learning.

1.2.Corpus Linguistics and English Vocabulary Teaching

The goal of corpus research is to uncover typical patterns and establish a theory of language from the usual and typical patterns with many computer programs such as Concordance Program, Frequency Program and so on. With its development, it is generally recognized that corpus linguistics has made contribution to ESL teaching, including syllabus design, data-driven learning, language testing, and so on. Moreover, corpus linguistics has shed light on the importance of lexis in language teaching and learning. For decades, mainly due to the influence of Chomskyan grammar, vocabulary has not been considered as central to language teaching, while an over-emphasis is placed on the structure of language. In contrast, as the corpus approach places lexis at the center of language description, its approach has emphasized the significance of vocabulary in ESL teaching and learning. Furthermore, the corpus approach rejects the traditional approach to vocabulary teaching, over-emphasizing “single words out of context”(MaCarthy,2001,P63). The traditional perspective often assumes that words have inherent meanings and thus can be taught in isolation form other words and syntactic structures. In contrast, corpus linguistics believes that “words did not have...
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