About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 5042-5049
Publication year: 2015
ISBN: 978-84-606-8243-1
ISSN: 2340-1117

Conference name: 7th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 6-8 July, 2015
Location: Barcelona, Spain

LANGUAGE CORPORA: HOW USEFUL IS A NATIVE ENGLISH CORPUS FOR SECOND LANGUAGE CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT?

A. McNeill

Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HONG KONG)
The widespread availability of large-scale corpora of the English language would appear, at first sight at least, to provide useful reference points for the development of second language (L2) curricula. This paper examines some of the practical issues that arise when drawing on corpus data in curriculum development. The paper is based on a collaborative project, conducted with the Hong Kong Education Bureau, which set out to develop an English vocabulary curriculum for the twelve years of compulsory education in Hong Kong. The first phase of the project aimed to identify sets of words which students could be expected to know by the end of each of the four Key Stages (Years 3, 6, 9 and 12). Potential vocabulary items were selected according to their frequency of occurrence in the General Service List (West 1953) and British National Corpus (Aston & Burnard 1998) and then subjected to scrutiny by teacher representatives of the four Key Stages. The teachers who participated in the project represented about 25% of Hong Kong schools. They took part in a computer-based vocabulary decision-making task, in which they were asked to judge whether words selected on the basis of frequency of occurrence in English were suitable for including in a curriculum for the Key Stage they represented.

Quantitative data generated by the decision-making tasks provided a basis for including items in the curriculum. However, the final selection of items adopted a more qualitative approach and involved reference to the topics and themes recommended in the official curriculum guides, the vocabulary content of approved English textbooks and some guiding principles established at the outset. Although frequency data about English words provided a helpful starting point for selecting vocabulary content, the teacher representatives rejected more of the potential items than the research team had anticipated. It was concluded that high-frequency items in a corpus of native English may not be useful or relevant to second language learners in S.E. Asia. The paper considers whether recent developments in the construction of specialized corpora for English as a lingua franca (ELF), for example the Vienna-Oxford International Corpus of English (VOICE) and academic English, such as the Michigan Corpus of Academic Spoken English (MICASE) and the British Academic Written English (BAWE), might prove to be more appropriate sources for L2 curriculum development.
@InProceedings{MCNEILL2015LAN,
author = {McNeill, A.},
title = {LANGUAGE CORPORA: HOW USEFUL IS A NATIVE ENGLISH CORPUS FOR SECOND LANGUAGE CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT?},
series = {7th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies},
booktitle = {EDULEARN15 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-606-8243-1},
issn = {2340-1117},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Barcelona, Spain},
month = {6-8 July, 2015},
year = {2015},
pages = {5042-5049}}
TY - CONF
AU - A. McNeill
TI - LANGUAGE CORPORA: HOW USEFUL IS A NATIVE ENGLISH CORPUS FOR SECOND LANGUAGE CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT?
SN - 978-84-606-8243-1/2340-1117
PY - 2015
Y1 - 6-8 July, 2015
CI - Barcelona, Spain
JO - 7th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
JA - EDULEARN15 Proceedings
SP - 5042
EP - 5049
ER -
A. McNeill (2015) LANGUAGE CORPORA: HOW USEFUL IS A NATIVE ENGLISH CORPUS FOR SECOND LANGUAGE CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT?, EDULEARN15 Proceedings, pp. 5042-5049.
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