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Spoken Language Learned from Textbooks and Evidenced in CANCODE Gao Li & Ji Jianli Northwest University
Learners’ unrealistic goal • How native are you like?’
Realistic goal • How successful can you use English?
Real language vs textbook language • Spoken corpora reveal how native English speakers speak is not always consistent with what textbooks are teaching in terms of grammatical choices
Learners’ dilemma • Does he/she want to construct his/her utterances according to spoken corpora or what textbooks and grammar tell?
My teaching context • Most of them instrumentally oriented • Work hard on spoken English
Tradition of use of corpora • A long tradition (Ajmer and Altenberg, 1991) • In 1975 that Jan Svartvik and his colleagues • Kettemann (2003) using concordance in vocabulary teaching • In grammar teaching and in stylistic and literature teaching (Kettemann, 2003; Adolphs, 2003; Stubbs,1996)
Benefits of corpus-based learning • Encouraging students’ active thinking about texts and recognizing language patters (Adolphs,2003) • Motivate students more (Johns, 1991) • Whetting students’ appetite (Dornyei, 2001) • Help build up learner autonomy
‘Native English speakers’ • Corpora have the advantage of being able to provide them with authentic language in use • Carter and McCarthy (2003)how a native speaker speaks language is different from what he/she knows about the language
Corpora data 1. It should fit there, cos it’s not that big I don’t think” 2. So you can’t think of nothing? Textbook example It should fit there, cos I don’t think it’s that big So you can’t think of anything Double negative
Why different? • Textbooks and grammar teach the grammar which is based on written language at sentence level, while at discourse level language is produced in time and for a face-to-face listener (Hughes and McCarthy, 1998). • Transactional situation vs interactional one
CANCODE Cambridge and Nottingham Corpus of Discourse in English
Special feature of CANCODE Conversations are categorized according to speaker relationship
In a travel agency $1 and $2 ask $3 about the accommodation prices in Barcelona
Part 1 • <$1> we were ,we were wondering about erm going to er Barcelona. We were wanting to stay in like in tents or in a caravan or in a bed and breakfast to sort of see what the different prices were. <$2> Yeah. <$1> And the cheapest way+ <$2> In Barcelona. <$1> +to get over there. <$2> End of August beginning of September by any chance.
<$3> I have to enter it before I can go in … just to give me an idea which one's which dates and things before you book. <$1> So at the end of August I think. <$3> Is there any specific date? Or <$1> Erm actually probably if we could do it from the third of September. <$3> The third of September. Erm how long would you be going for? <$1> A week.
<$3> A week. So you're looking for … What we have on our city breaks which are like hotels. And basically er <$1> Right. What's the basic price? <$3> Erm I'll go and get the brochures for you. Have a look at the brochures. I mean if you're looking for something more on the lines of erm camping or tents+ <$1> Mm. <$3> +your best bet would be to contact the tourist board to see what erm camp sites they have+ <$1> Right. <$3> +round Barcelona and what would be suitable for you. <$1> It's a price thing really because if we could get+ <$3> Yeah.
<$1> +low price hotels we would be+ <$2> Yeah. <$1> +quite happy with that. <$2> Yeah. <$3> I'll go get brochures then+ <$2> Okay. Cheers. <$3> +you can do it yourself. <$2> Cheers.
Part 2 • <$1> Mm. I don't know that's going to be more expensive that though isn't it. <$2> What what hotels? <$1> Mm. <$2> Well I don't wanna have to fork out two hundred pounds for the week. <$1> Mm. <$2> And we're talking about high summer so it's gonna thirty quid a night. <$1> What if we get our tents nicked. (laughs) <$2> (laughs) <$1> Well it happens in Glastonbury doesn't it. People come back and their tent's gone. So
<$2>(silence) <$1> We don't wanna have to pack … them up every time we go out. <$2> We could stay in a like hotel. <$1> Mm. Caravan I'd go with. But would we have two caravans then? <$2>Mm. <$1>(laughs) <$2>(laughs)
<$1> Or a two bedroom caravan. <$2> Yeah. You haven't got anything … lined up for the… week? <$1> Dunno about that. <$2> ( laughs) Anyway I don't wanna be woken up by you. <$1> ( laughs) (CANCODE)
There are ellipsis, back-channel,discourse markers , hedges , vague language and supposedly ungrammatical forms.
Examples from textbook Dialogue 1 A: Doctor, I’m very ill—please help me. I have a bad headache, a high temperature, I’m bounged up and I’m tired all the time. B: This is obviously your first visit to Britain. A: Why do you say that? B: Because if you had been here before you’d know that all you have is a British cold.
Dialogue 2 A: Stanley didn’t sunbathe during the whole holiday. He said he had forgotten his swimming trunks but that was just an excuse. B: What was the real reason? A: He’s a little overweight and he didn’t want anyone to see his spare tyre! (Applebee and Rush, Help with Idioms) (1992)
She is a lovely girl, isn’t she? She isn’t a lovely girl, is she? She’s a lovely girl she is Tag question
It is assumed that the way of people conducting conversation is very dependent on their degree of familiarity. The more familiar they are, the more ellipsis they may use.
the corpus data appears to be much messier (Hughes and McCarthy, 1998) than that found in a textbook.
In corpora: e.g. Dunno know about; Mm, Yeah; right, I mean; actually probably; a price thing; in a like hotel. In textbook: neat and better comprehendedutterances Differences between dialogue of corpora and of textbook
Discussion • Textbook and grammar are mainly based on written English • Teaching purposes • The age of learners
Summary • Not to exclude corpus from their classroom but demands teachers’ conscious use • Pick the corpus data that serves their teaching purpose and back up the particular grammar rule or edit them to present a clearer picture to learners and minimize confusion
Intermediate or advanced learners • Provide students with guidance about how to search in a corpus, • Train them how to interpret for example concordance lines
Awareness raising • Native English speakers use language differently in terms of grammatical choices in different situations