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LAGB Education Committee Leeds, September 3 rd 2010. Using corpora in secondary English teaching Dan Clayton: Research Fellow, Survey of English Usage, UCL. Overview. Some background Examples of corpus tools in English classrooms A level English Language

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lagb education committee leeds september 3 rd 2010

LAGB Education CommitteeLeeds, September 3rd 2010

Using corpora in secondary English teaching

Dan Clayton: Research Fellow, Survey of English Usage, UCL

overview

Overview

Some background

Examples of corpus tools in English classrooms

A level English Language

The Teaching English Grammar in Schools project

some background
Some background
  • The use of corpora has been fairly restricted in most English classrooms until recently.
  • In a broader sense, bodies of language have been used for many years: literary texts, dictionaries etc.
  • Secondary English in UK: historically much more focus on Literature than Language
  • Little potential for investigative approaches into language until recent curriculum developments.
examples of corpus tools for classroom teachit s cruncher
Examples of corpus tools for classroom: Teachit’s Cruncher
  • Teachit’s Cruncher has proved a good intro to the potential of corpus work in the classroom.
  • Paste in own text and it crunches it: defamiliarisation; patterning; new approach
education for leisure carol ann duffy
Education For Leisure – Carol Ann Duffy

Text of poem

Crunched version

a a a a a a against all am am am am am an and and and and and another another anything anything appreciate arm at at autograph avoids be being bog boredom bread-knife breathe budgie but cat cat chain chance change could cuts day dial did don’t down education enough fly fly for for fortnight genius genius get glass glitter go god going going going goldfish good grey had half has have he he’s hidden i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i ignored in in in into is is is is is it it it itself kill kill knows language language left leisure man me me miles my my my name nothing now of of off on on once ordinary our out out panicking pavements play pour pull radio school see shakespeare signing something something’s sort squash stirring streets suddenly superstar talent talking tell that that the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the there they thumb to to to to to to today today today touch town two walk was we window with with with world world write your

Today I am going to kill something. Anything.

I have had enough of being ignored and today

I am going to play God. It is an ordinary day,

a sort of grey with boredom stirring in the streets

I squash a fly against the window with my thumb.

we did that at school. Shakespeare. It was in

another language and now the fly is in another language.

I breathe out talent on the glass to write my name.

I am a genius. I could be anything at all, with half

the chance. But today I am going to change the world.

something’s world. The cat avoids me. The cat

knows I am a genius, and has hidden itself.

I pour the goldfish down the bog. I pull the chain.

I see that it is good. The budgie is panicking.

Once a fortnight, I walk the two miles into town

For signing on. They don’t appreciate my autograph.

There is nothing left to kill. I dial the radio

and tell the man he’s talking to a superstar.

he cuts me off. I get our bread-knife and go out.

the pavements glitter suddenly. I touch your arm.

teachit s syntex
Teachit’s Syntex

Syntex first screen

First stanza of poem

a level english language
A level English Language
  • The growth of A level English Language (at one point in the mid-2000s being the fastest growing A level) has opened up more interesting opportunities for corpus work.
  • Investigation is actively encouraged (and built into the A level coursework).
  • There is emphasis on the study of naturally occurring language.
  • Teachit, especially Chris Warren, Julie Blake and Tim Shortis, have been early pioneers, but others have made inroads into using corpora in the classroom. The recent BAAL/CUP corpus special interest group conference had many useful presentations from teachers.
as level english language
AS level English Language

AQA A spec

AQA B spec

Categorising Texts AS unit:

Text type/genre features of materials can be taught using corpora and exploring patterns e.g. differences between spoken and written instructional language, or distribution of verb forms between recipe books and fictional writing.

  • Investigating Representations AS unit:
  • Critical discourse analysis of self-selected texts on an issue, event, individual, social group or institution.
  • Corpus tools very helpful for looking at uses of particular patterns of language which create representations: first step in a more detailed analysis.
a level english language9
A level English Language
  • All exam boards include a Language Investigation as part of the A2 course.
  • Students are encouraged to devise their own research questions.
  • Investigations into spoken language can make use of corpora, so statistical analyses of features can be carried out, while text extracts can be filleted for further analysis.
teaching english grammar in schools
Teaching English Grammar in Schools
  • This is a knowledge transfer project based at UCL, in partnership with Camden (our local LEA).
  • Aim is to create a web-based platform for teaching (and developing the teaching of) English grammar in KS 3-5.
project objectives
Project objectives

suspicion

  • Grammar is often viewed with a mixture of suspicion, scepticism and fear by many teachers: suspicion that grammar is just a dry way of learning a narrow, feature-spotting approach to language; scepticism over whether teaching grammar actually helps pupils’ reading and writing; fear that grammar is scary and that they don’t know enough of it.
  • We hope to be able to support teachers in finding ways to make grammar teaching practical, dynamic and accessible, but most of all relevant, because the language we’ll be using is all sourced directly from examples of actual usage.

scepticism

fear

from classroom to corpus
From classroom to corpus

Ñ

School VLE

Grammar for Schools website

ICE-GB

Classroom

from corpus to classroom
From corpus to classroom
  • The early stages of the project have involved working on classroom resources that use dynamic examples from ICE-GB to illustrate key grammatical concepts.
  • We’ve worked to integrate lessons and tasks on grammatical concepts with what teachers actually do in the English classroom: working with literature texts, media texts, the spoken voice, creative writing, problem solving and mini-investigation work.
  • Grammar is not being taught in isolation, but as integral to the systematic study of English.
some examples of resources

Some examples of resources

Key Stage 3 – Whodunit?

A simple introduction to forensic linguistics, in which students are asked to solve a crime by looking for language clues.

whodunit18
Whodunit?
  • This lesson can lead to a number of different areas: early work on key differences between written and spoken language, discussions about standard and non-standard forms, register and appropriacy, and discussion of a range of grammatical features and how we might identify them .
  • In the Year 9 class where this lesson was piloted, the students seemed surprised that grammar could have a “real world” application.
  • The corpus is used to source dynamic examples of some of the features noted in the task and to provide further material for analysis.
some examples of resources19
Some examples of resources
  • Key Stage 5 – A level English Language
  • He Said She Said: researching gender and language
  • An introduction to using ICE-GB in testing out popular stereotypes about male and female conversation styles.
he said she said
He Said She Said
  • This resource is designed to help A level students formulate sensible research questions about male and female spoken styles.
  • Taking discourse markers, tag questions, adverbial intensifiers and precise colour terms as examples, the students are guided through a series of searches designed to help them think about research methodology.
  • As with the Whodunit task for KS3, the emphasis is very much on problem-solving and using grammar in a practical way. For example, students are given an extract from Robin Lakoff’s Language and a Woman’s Place and asked to test out one of her observations against data in ICE-GB.
conclusions
Conclusions
  • Corpora have the potential to make English teaching more data-driven and investigative in approach...but...
  • we have to perform a tricky balancing act between the extremes of experiential and didactic learning.
  • We know that many English teachers come from a Literature background: they often struggle with grammar and are unfamiliar with corpus tools and research methodologies.
  • We have to boost teachers’ confidence about Language teaching and prove to them that corpus work can help in the classroom.
contacts
Contacts
  • Bas Aarts (Professor of English Linguistics and Principal Investigator on this project)
  • Sean Wallis (Senior Research Fellow)
  • Dan Clayton (Research Fellow) d.clayton@ucl.ac.uk
  • Project page: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/english-usage/projects/grammar-teaching/
  • Project blog: http://teachingenglishgrammarinschools.blogspot.com/