Who benefits from learning how to use corpora?

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Whereas researchers have long seen the benefits of using corpora to enhance the description of language, the regular use of corpora in the EFL classroom is still a rare occurrence. One reason is likely to be that learning how to use corpora is seldom part of teacher training courses. As a result, teachers themselves – both at university level and at lower levels – lack the skills needed to use this “native-speaker consultant”. If training in how to use corpora were integrated into university level courses such as syntax, written proficiency and translation, in time it could become just as natural to consult a corpus as to look up an item in a dictionary or a grammar book.The present paper, which is based on almost a decade’s experience of using corpora in the teaching of EFL syntax at the university level, outlines how teachers can utilize this resource both to design exercises and to make grammar “come alive” in the classroom. Furthermore, it summarizes students’ attitudes regarding hands-on exercises using corpora, and discusses the problems as well as the benefits of involving students directly in interpreting edited and unedited corpus data.


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