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Tuesday, December 01, 2009

ESL Teacher Blog: Using Online Corpus in Advanced ESL Classrooms

A corpus is a collection of written and spoken texts stored on a computer. While dictionaries explain meanings, a corpus helps finding every occurrence of a particular word or phrase in a matter of seconds, providing many examples of patterns of use.

ESL students don’t have a native speaker intuition to decide what people say or write. Yet, they can easily find out how the English language is used today by real people by validating their guesses through an online corpus.
Consulting a corpus can be especially valuable for locating collocations, common word combinations, that present a continuous challenge at all levels of proficiency. They’re also very helpful in finding correct grammar patterns and structures, distinguishing spoken and written speech and identifying English varieties (American, British, etc.)

Below are examples of questions that can be answered by looking at the data retrieved from a corpus:

- What’s the word that comes most frequently after the word “provide”? before the word “accident”?
- What are the most recurrent chunks this word can be a part of?
- Do we say “post a letter” in British English and “mail a letter” in American English?
- Is this word applied to humans only?
- What prepositions go with this word?
- What idioms occur with this word?

Explore some of the corpus links below with your advanced ESL students so they can observe a new vocabulary item in its authentic context of use:

Lexical Tutor
British National Corpus
Michigan Corpus of Academic Spoken English
Collins Wordbanks Online English Corpus


POSTED BY Olga Galperin AT 11:09 AM
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