About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 7242-7252
Publication year: 2012
ISBN: 978-84-695-3491-5
ISSN: 2340-1117

Conference name: 4th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 2-4 July, 2012
Location: Barcelona, Spain

BUILDING LOCAL LEARNER CORPORA TO IMPROVE FOREIGN LANGUAGE TEACHING

R. Kawecki

University of Bretagne-Sud (FRANCE)
This research project was originated due to the difficulties students of the Centre for Language Learning at the University of the West Indies in Trinidad and Tobago had when writing French as a foreign language. This frustration led to the building of a Caribbean French Learner Corpus to investigate and remedy the problems. The focus of this research then was primarily to improve the teaching/learning of French in that part of the world with the help of the methodologies and tools developed by Corpus Linguists.

Corpus Linguistics earned its place in the field of language acquisition some twenty years ago. Classroom experiments started using native speaker corpora. Learner corpora followed when academics such as Sylviane Granger began collecting data derived from learners of mainly English as a second or foreign language. Learner Corpora about other languages such as French are now increasingly being built but remain on the whole relatively scarce and small compared to their English equivalents. The majority of these learner corpora are mainly concerned with students with a fairly high proficiency in the second/foreign language they are learning.

The Caribbean French Learner Corpus described in this paper is original in the sense that it targets students having just started learning French or, at most, by learners with an intermediate proficiency in that language. It is made up of 914 written essays (136 892 words in total) collected during the period Sept. 2007-April 2009. Most students contributed two essays and almost a quarter of them wrote four pieces or more. This learner population is very homogeneous: all students come from the English-speaking Caribbean region – mainly from Trinidad and Tobago – and were taught using the same series of textbooks.
Learner Corpora can be of great help in identifying the most recurrent lexical and syntactic problems faced by specific populations of students in their endeavour to learn a particular second/foreign language, a set of difficulties generally referred to as their interlanguage. Identifying the linguistic problems faced by students is important in adapting the teachers’ pedagogy to the characteristic difficulties their learners encounter. It makes possible the creation of supplementary material to support textbooks which are often far too generic in their approach.

The written provisional grammar associated with this Caribbean population of students shows the influence played by the L1 (English) that is at times reinforced by that of another prevalent L2 (Spanish) due to the island close proximity to South America. Samples of some syntactic interferences of this kind are:
1) the overuse of the adverb “aussi” (also) at the sentence initial position,
2) the overuse of the spatial preposition “en”.
The learners’ productions also demonstrate the strong impact that the textbooks and pedagogical approach to language teaching have on the students’ written output: “Formulaic parroting” is widespread and some morphosyntactic aspects are obviously resisting instruction right from the beginning.
This research project calls for adapting the teachers’ pedagogy and textbooks in order to help beginner learners write more accurately and originally, right from the beginning of instruction. It also more generally points to the fact that, in an age of globalization, foreign language teaching should remain focused on the local context.
@InProceedings{KAWECKI2012BUI,
author = {Kawecki, R.},
title = {BUILDING LOCAL LEARNER CORPORA TO IMPROVE FOREIGN LANGUAGE TEACHING},
series = {4th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies},
booktitle = {EDULEARN12 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-695-3491-5},
issn = {2340-1117},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Barcelona, Spain},
month = {2-4 July, 2012},
year = {2012},
pages = {7242-7252}}
TY - CONF
AU - R. Kawecki
TI - BUILDING LOCAL LEARNER CORPORA TO IMPROVE FOREIGN LANGUAGE TEACHING
SN - 978-84-695-3491-5/2340-1117
PY - 2012
Y1 - 2-4 July, 2012
CI - Barcelona, Spain
JO - 4th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
JA - EDULEARN12 Proceedings
SP - 7242
EP - 7252
ER -
R. Kawecki (2012) BUILDING LOCAL LEARNER CORPORA TO IMPROVE FOREIGN LANGUAGE TEACHING, EDULEARN12 Proceedings, pp. 7242-7252.
User:
Pass: