Lexical cohesion: Corpus linguistic theory and its application English in language teaching

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Cohesion is generally described with regard to two broad categories: ‘grammatical cohesion’ and ‘lexical cohesion’. These categories reflect a view on language that treats grammar and lexis along separate lines. Language teaching textbooks on cohesion often follow this division. In contrast, a corpus theoretical approach to the description of English prioritises lexis and does not assume that lexical and grammatical phenomena can be clearly distinguished. Consequently, cohesion can be seen in a new light: cohesion is created by interlocking lexico-grammatical patterns and overlapping lexical items. A corpus theoretical approach to cohesion has important implications for English language teaching. The article looks at difficulties of teaching cohesion, shows links between communicative approaches to ELT and corpus linguistics, and suggests practical applications of corpus theoretical concepts.


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