A CORPUS BASED STUDY FOR DESIGNING LANGUAGE RESOURCES IN BASQUE FOR ACADEMIC PURPOSES
This paper presents the prototype of the linguistic resources that need to be created for undergraduate students in academic contexts in Basque. As opposed to the neighboring languages, Basque is a minority language and it is not completely normalized yet. In order to contribute to the normalization of the language in academic contexts, the University of the Basque Country UPV/EHU offers the students two optional subjects focused on academic and professional uses of Basque. These subjects aim at training the students in the usage of Basque in their field of specialization. Thus, they mainly focus on the functional variation of the language, in training the students in creating correct and adequate written and oral texts (genres) in their field.
Along the lines of the Common European Framework of Reference for Language Learning, Teaching and Assessment (European Council 2001), teaching the aforementioned subjects should take into account the previous knowledge of the students and the previous competences they possess. For the two subjects on Basque that are offered at the university, its is assumed that students have the basic grammar skills of Basque, and therefore, the subjects are not aimed at training the students in these basic aspects of the language. However, we often find that students fail to fulfill the basic requirements, partly due to the fact that Basque is not fully normalized and partly due to the student´s lack of language skills. This paper describes the project carried out by 9 university professors in order to design adequate language resources for university students in order to solve the typical language problems in an autonomous way. Along the lines of a previous project called GARATERM (Zabala et al 2008) in which we collected university professor´s texts, we created a corpus with texts created by students of all types (of different specialization fields, of different backgrounds- monolingual/bilingual) with the aim of detecting the students´ typical language errors. This enabled us not only to create a typology of errors that students make, but also to create a database of the errors, which would be very useful in the process of creating resources for students to practice the specific linguistic problems. The next step involved the detection of existing resources in the internet that could help the students to lean and practice each linguistic problem. These resources included both pages that contained theoretical explanations as well as sites that provided exercises. The next task included a thorough analysis of those resources, and especially, whether the resources were adequate linguistically (whether they provided a correct and clear explanation of the linguistic phenomenon) and contextually (whether the examples and exercises fulfilled the needs of the students). The results of the analysis suggested that the resources were often not correct linguistically or adequate contextually. In the final step, we have created a prototype of the kind of resources that should be created in collaborative work and we have gathered the resources in a page easily accessible for the students.
Council of Europe, 2001: Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, teaching, assessment. Cambridge: CUP.
Zabala et al (2008). Monitorization and dynamization of the development of Basque in academic fields). In Espezialitate hizkerak eta terminologia III: espezialitate hizkeren didaktika eta komunikazioa, 37.