Corpus linguistics and esp is there a link
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Corpus Linguistics and ESP - is there a link ?. Mike Scott University of Liverpool 10 October 2005 XIX Seminário Nacional de Inglês Instrumental PUC-SP . Theme.

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Corpus linguistics and esp is there a link l.jpg

Corpus Linguistics and ESP - is there a link?

Mike Scott

University of Liverpool

10 October 2005

XIX Seminário Nacional de Inglês Instrumental


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  • The rapidly-developing field of Corpus Linguistics (CL) and its potential for informing ESP teachers, researchers and students. 

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Issues and Questions

  • What is available now in CL?

  • Is the traffic one-way or can ESP inform CL too? “Atuação recíproca” (Celani 10.10.2005, 10:30)

  • Does CL only help us understand the characteristics of genres or can it help us get at topics such as how learners might cope with it, e.g. via key words?

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Structure for Today

  • Characteristics of CL

  • Characteristics of ESP

  • Linkages

  • Studies involving both

  • Directions for us to advance in

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Characteristics of CL

  • Data-driven

  • Empirical

  • … scornful of intuition

  • Generating theory

  • … but not driven by theory

  • Discovery-oriented

  • Software/Tool-oriented

  • Dependent on the corpora

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Characteristics of CL (2)

  • European, especially Scandinavia, UK

  • Bolsões e.g. in Brazil, Japan, USA

  • … but hardly widespread!

  • Middle-class middle-aged white males

  • Technology & gadgets

  • Anoraks and nerds

  • Uncertain status as a discipline

  • Innovative in methodology

  • Focus on “the language”

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Characteristics of ESP

  • Forced upon us not by theory …

  • …but by globalisation

  • Backs to the wall …

  • … untrained teachers told to do it …

  • so an origin of desperation

  • Students unhappy with “Mary gave the elephant a bun” …

  • …and the Jones family picnic in Yosemite.

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Characteristics of ESP (2)

  • Still uncertain status as a profession

  • Challenging established practice

    • use of L1

    • mono-skill approach

    • no textbook

    • ELT methods (audio-lingualism, PPP, TBL etc.) not necessarily appropriate

    • student knows more than teacher

    • authentic text

  • Innovative in methodology

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Common factors

  • innovative methodology

  • interest in learning

  • by examining data

  • which is unfiltered

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  • Not many existing papers

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Paper 1

  • Lynne Flowerdew, 1998, “Corpus Linguistic Techniques applied to Textlinguistics”. System 26, 541-552

  • Exploration v. exploitation of corpora

  • Argues for systemics, genre- and discourse-analysis, instead of the corpus as evidence for “the language”

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Paper 2

  • ESP World (2003)

  • Maria José Pereira de Oliveira (Agrarian School in Santarém, Portugal), “Corpus Linguistics in the teaching of ESP and Literary Studies”

  • General enthusiasm for corpus methods

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Paper 3

  • Alejandro Curado FuentesPatricia Edwards RokowskiUniversity of Extremadura ,“Using Corpus Resources as Complementary Task Material in ESP” (2003)

  • Advice on corpus construction

  • Some exercise-types & examples

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Paper 3 cont. Exercise-types

  • GUESS THE COLLOCATE(S):____________________



  • In the current example I think it's gonna be …-- This paper describes-- It is used to + infinitive


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Paper 4

  • Pascual Pérez-Paredes, Universidad de Murcia, Spain (2003), “Small corpora as assisting tools in the teaching of English news language: A preliminary tokens-based examination of Michael Swan’s Practical English Usage news language wordlist”

  • Finds that Swan’s word list contains words not common in corpora

  • Concludes that students need access to various corpora.

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Paper 5

  • Pernilla Danielsson & Michaela Mahlberg, 2003, “There is more to knowing a language than knowing its words:Using parallel corpora in the bilingual classroom”

  • Discusses discovery learning using parallel corpora (English & Swedish)

  • Ways of identifying translation/meaning alternatives using ParaConc’s “hotwords”

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Paper 6

  • Lynne Flowerdew, 2005, “An integration of corpus-based and genre-based approaches to text aanalysis in EAP/ESP: countering criticisms against corpus-based methodologies. English for Specific Purposes, Vol. 24, 321-332.

  • Shows how ESP-originated rhetorical structures (Swalesian moves) can be identified using corpora

  • Resists the attack that CL methods are too “bottom-up”

  • Reviews studies showing that some structures/MWUs are over-used by students & relates this to their ESP classes.

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Paper 7

  • Olga Mudraya (2005 in press) “Engineering English: A lexical frequency instructional model”. English for Specific Purposes.

  • Considers technical and especially sub-technical vocabulary

  • Builds 9,000 type list of use to Thai Engineering students

  • Considers consistency (range)

  • Concordance activities to identify collocational/colligational patterns

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Keywords as a link?

  • Text focus

  • Aboutness

  • Gist

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Activities (1)

  • supply KWs and predict/guess at the text

    • rationale: boosts confidence & reduces tension of reading the text; variant on old un-pedagogical supplying of a glossary prior to reading

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Activities (2)

  • sort KWs into categories (people, places, processes etc.)

    • rationale: leads to Critical Reading: what was said and what was downplayed and what omitted

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Activities (3)

  • Predict which other text-types would typically contain those KWs

    • rationale: focus on notion of the colony, text-types, intertextuality

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Activities (4)

  • KWs as a basis for writing tasks

    • rationale: students start from their own KWs and generate a text; reduces tension of writing a well-formed text, provides a basis for brain-storming

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Activities (5)

  • KWs and pronunciation

    • rationale: helps focus the ESP student’s mind on the essential as opposed to hoping s/he’ll pronounce everything correctly

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Activities (6)

  • KWs as a basis for oral presentations

    • rationale: helps prepare the audience, prior to or immediately following outline summary of the presentation; helps focus the presenter’s mind towards the audience (away from the teacher) and increase likelihood of awareness of difficulties audience might face, as well as focus on the essential as opposed to incidental

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Activities (6)

  • Read/listen and note down the KWs

    • rationale: preparation for note-taking but less stressful

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  • CL and ESP have some common aspects

    • innovative methodology

    • interest in learning

    • by examining data

    • which is unfiltered

  • Keywords may represent a means of focussing on the text and what it is about.

  • Although KWs can be found and worked on in ESP without using CL, CL does offer a useful way of finding & handling KWs.

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English for Specific Purposes

Corpus Linguistics