Corpus-Based pedagogy and English language teaching: Insights from the classroom

Martin, James (2009) Corpus-Based pedagogy and English language teaching: Insights from the classroom. Masters thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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This study set out to investigate a potentially greater role for corpora in the EFL classroom. The recent influence of corpora on textbooks and self-study materials is evident and welldocumented, yet instances of teachers and learners working with corpora in lessons remain comparatively scarce. Furthermore, a number of recent publications have encouraged learners
and teachers to view grammar as stemming from the highest-frequency words in English.
However, evidence of this view of language in the majority of classrooms is a rare occurrence. By conducting training sessions which highlighted principles of corpus linguistics, a group of three EFL teachers at the University of Central Lancashire were provided with knowledge of corpus linguistics principles with which they planned and delivered a series of corpus-based lessons to their groups of upper-intermediate students.
First, the teachers and a number of randomly chosen students were then questioned as to their experience of working with corpus-based pedagogy as against their experiences of Communicative Language Teaching, which is prevalent in the research setting and the UK in general. Second, students' views of the learning of grammar and vocabulary through corpusbased materials were elicited. Placing a strong focus on qualitative data, teacher and student responses were analysed within a theoretical framework provided by Richards & Rodgers' (2001) model of a teaching method. The results suggested that teachers' willingness to embrace corpora depended strongly on concerns over time taken to plan lessons, and how much language would be covered in lessons. Students regarded spending more time on fewer language items more positively. Nevertheless, students' views that grammar and vocabulary were separate units of language appeared to restrict the progress of corpora in the EFL classroom. The study concluded by recommending further research into cultural attitudes to corpora, design of corpus-based syllabuses and teacher training in the principles of corpus linguistics.

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