CORPUS-BASED APPROACH TO FOREIGN LANGUAGE TEACHING

G. Gizatova, D. Sabirova

Kazan (Volga Region) Federal University (RUSSIAN FEDERATION)
The paper presents a corpus-based approach to language teaching which has acquired prominence over the past decades. Corpus-based technique is the source of providing teachers and students with an authentic empirical data which has many applications in language learning.

The purpose of this study is to analyze the contribution of corpus analysis to language teaching along two revealing lines of inquiry. The first line demonstrates advantages of using corpora in different aspects of language teaching and learning, including, but not limited to: morphology, syntax, computer-assisted language learning, ESP, translation, lexicography, semantics and culture studies. The second line studies corpus-based approach to idiom comprehension in language acquisition.

The paper makes a careful insight into the contribution of corpus analysis to foreign language teaching that has been successfully introduced by the authors at the Higher School of Foreign Languages and Translation Studies, Kazan Federal University, Russian Federation.

Learning a foreign language at the university due to corpus data students find a range of syntactic patterns, polysemous idioms and unexpected variants which cannot be retrieved from the existing idiomatic and monolingual dictionaries of the English language. The authors’ extensive teaching and learning experience backed by numerous research finding shows that many idiomatic dictionaries fail to register all meanings of idioms, sometimes introducing their insufficient semantic description and usage, because most teaching and reference materials on idioms are based on the intuition of their authors. But the intuition of even the most competent authors which are often experienced school or university teachers is not always consistent requiring a more reliable tool, such as corpora.

The empirical data have been collected from the various corpus query systems, with Sketch Engine being a leading corpus tool which has been in use for lexicography and language research since 2004. Its version SKELL ‘Sketch Engine for Language Learners’ is a state-of-the-art web-based interface for language learning. The paper presents educational technologies of SKELL application during the English classes at university and demonstrates that SKELL is an easy tool to the use of a particular lexical unit by native English speakers.

The research data accumulated by means of traditional methods of literature review, observation, interview, product analysis and questionnaire allow the authors to come to a number of conclusions. Among them is that both teachers and learners can benefit from using corpus-based approach in the processes of teaching and learning. The authors admit that using corpora in language acquisition does not mean that we have to neglect traditional methods of teaching. Instead, it can enrich and develop the existing teaching approaches that is accepting the challenge of exploiting the corpora that will help in orientation of students into linguistic, cognitive and technical processes of learning a foreign language.