Corpus research and practice: What help do teachers need and what can we offer?

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Despite the progress that has recently been made in the field of corpus linguistics and language teaching, it is not clear what impact corpora have actually had so far on English language teaching practice. Corpus researchers often claim that corpus linguistics can make a difference for language teaching and that it has an immense potential to improve pedagogy, but perhaps do not focus enough on the interface of research and practice. They do not make sufficient efforts to reach practitioners, especially teachers, with the ‘corpus mission’, do not know enough about the needs of teachers, and do not show them where corpora can help them solve everyday problems. The present chapter aims to address these issues. It centres on a teachers’ needs analysis carried out to capture important aspects about the situation of teachers, their problems and wishes they might have. A questionnaire was devised that covered topics such as the quality of existing teaching materials, authenticity in language teaching, and the teachers’ language competence and exam marking. This chapter will present selected results from the teachers’ survey and discuss where corpus linguistics (or corpus linguists, rather) could, and should perhaps, offer help to teachers, hence showing them that corpus research <i>can </i>have an impact on pedagogical practice and that corpora <i>can </i>actually make a difference.


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