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Integrating corpus-based vocabulary activities into an academic writing course


Integrating corpus-based vocabulary activities into an academic writing course TESOL 2005, San Antonio, Texas March 30, 2005 John Bunting Georgia State University – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Integrating corpus-based vocabulary activities into an academic writing course

Integrating corpus-based vocabulary activities
into an academic writing course
  • TESOL 2005, San Antonio, Texas
  • March 30, 2005
  • John Bunting
  • Georgia State University

Ways to build upon vocabulary
  • Meaning(s)
  • The spoken form
  • The written form
  • Its frequency (compared with similar words)
  • Its grammar
  • Collocations
  • Register (and any related changes in meaning)
  • Association with other words/concepts
  • Its overall positive/negative (or other)
  • Its use in any specific textual position?

What challenges exist?
  • New ways of seeing
  • Explaining value to students
  • Learning new activity types
  • Finding appropriate material
  • Using new software
  • Filtering out noise

Why integrate new techniques?
  • Changing technology leads to
  • changes in expectations
  • greater student autonomy
  • access to a wider range of authentic texts
  • new ways to look at patterns in text

What are the goals?
  • Learn about words and phrases receptively
  • Begin to notice patterns in text
  • Develop strategies for approaching other words
    and phrases

Academic Writing 0950
  • Last level before entering the university
  • Content-based course American History from
    early 1500s to mid 1700s
  • Focus on writing for tests and classroom
  • Writing based on displaying knowledge of reading
    of college-level textbooks
  • Assessment heavily weighted towards exams based
    on textbook readings

The students/writers
  • Primarily international students
  • Almost all planning to study at either graduate
    or undergraduate level in the next semester
  • Highly motivated
  • Range of L1 and cultural backgrounds
  • Spanish (Latin American), Korean, Chinese,
    Japanese, Nepalese, Vietnamese

The timeline project
  • Students construct a project creating a timeline
    that shows historical events and people from
    different countries, relating or contrasting them
    with events and people from US History
  • Students gain some perspective on how historical
    events that shaped the US connected with the rest
    of the world (Snell, 2004)

Timeline project details
  • Semester-long project
  • Requires articles about related topics (narrow
  • The corpus-based activities are part of this

Initial steps
  • Define and exemplify terminology
  • Collocation
  • KWIC
  • Concordancing
  • Register
  • Corpus/corpora
  • Show students ways to copy and save text files
  • Create links to relevant websites

Initial steps
Building a corpus of student-selected texts
  • In small groups, determine topics
  • Assign tasks based on timeline project
  • Included in tasks select articles and read them
  • Save articles as text files
  • Send text files to teacher along with assignment
  • Compile text files and use them for additional

Adding to the corpus
  • Repeat the text-compiling process for each
  • Incorporate other tasks into each assignment
  • Compile the texts into country-specific folders
    and one complete text

Finding articles and saving them as text files
  • IEP 0950 Writing from Reading Assignment 1
  • Finding articles about your timeline project, and
    saving text files
  • Name_____________________________
  • The assignment Online, find two scholarly
    articles and two news articles on your topic.
    They need to be in readable form (either as text
    documents or html files). Read through them and
    write a one to two sentence summary of the
  • Time period ________________________
  • Country/culture _____________________
  • Summary sentences
  • 1.
  • 2.
  • Please email me the text files for all articles
    as text attachments

Finding concordance lines using an online
  • The assignment For your word, you will need to
    do the following for your word
  • Create a definition for the word
  • List all its forms (noun, verb, etc. in a chart)
  • Find 20 concordance lines from academic readings
    for the word, using Compleat Lexical Tutor
  • Find one pattern about that word (this can be
    other words that go with it, or grammar patterns
    that seem common) based on the concordance lines
    that you find.

Concordance lines - student results
Trying to identify patterns from concordance lines
  • T1 Pattern Someone assumes that something
    happens Clause
  • Example People automatically assume that I'm in
  • S1 Pattern Something is processed into
  • Example The material will be processed into
    plastic pellets.
  • S2 Pattern analysis of do/carry out/conduct
    an analysis
  • Example Further analysis of the data is needed.
  • They were doing some type of statistical analysis

Reviewing the AWL vocabulary
Connecting articles to the AWL
  • The assignment
  • Choose one of your texts to use in this website.
  • Find and make a list of the AWL words from
    sublist 1 and 2.
  • Choose two words from those that you think are
    very important and find then in the text.
  • Copy the sentences from the text that includes
    those words.
  • Write two more sentences (about the same country)
    that uses that word (or one of its word forms)

Connecting articles to the AWL Student work
Examining word frequency in articles
  • Look at the most frequent words in the articles
    chosen for all the timeline projects. Decide
    which words are function words, which are
    probably about specific countries (the US, China,
    etc.) and which might be considered academic

Students determine which words from the frequency
list are function words or content words. They
also determine which content words might be more
strongly connected to one topic (country) or
Examining word frequency in articles Content
Examining phrases in the corpus
Choosing phrases in the corpus student work
  • Some useful phrases that students chose from the
  • As well as the
  • by the end of
  • at the same time
  • at the end of
  • put an end to
  • in addition to the

Creating phrases student work
  • Some phrases that students chose, not from the
  • The outcome of the
  • The British government mentioned that
  • Between XXXX and XXXX
  • Influenced by World War II
  • The independence of Korea from Japan
  • A long march led by

Next steps
  • Add/remove tasks based on student response
  • Connect this to oral communication class, using
  • Try working with scholarly articles in students
    fields of study (IEP or grad students)
  • Have students use more sophisticated online
    programs for grammar/lexical patterns (WASP Bench)

  • Bunting, J. (2006). College Vocabulary 4. Boston
    Houghton Mifflin.
  • Schmitt, N. (2000). Vocabulary in language
    teaching. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
  • Schmitt, N. and R. Carter (2000). "The Lexical
    Advantages of Narrow Reading for Second Language
    Learners." TESOL Journal 91 4-9.
  • Scott, M. (1999). Wordsmith Tools. Oxford, Oxford
    University Press computer software.
  • Underhill, A. (2002). MacMillan English
    dictionary for advanced learners of American
    English Workbook. Oxford MacMillan.

  • Compleat Lexical Tutor (for frequency and
    vocabulary profiles)
  • http//
  • Michigan Corpus of Academic Spoken English
  • http//
  • WASP Bench A Semi-Automatic Lexicographer's
    Workbench for Writing Word Sense Profiles
  • http//