Parallel Corpora in EFL Writing Classrooms: Are They Effective?

Parallel Corpora in EFL Writing Classrooms: Are They Effective?

Noorchaya Yahya (King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia), Hind Alotaibi (King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia) and Dina Abdel Salam El-Dakhs (Prince Sultan University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia)
DOI: 10.4018/IJCALLT.2020040102

Abstract

This study reveals the impact of using parallel corpora on EFL students' writing, and how students perceive it. Female undergraduates (n=46) in an EFL writing course in Saudi Arabia were divided randomly into experimental and control groups taught by the same instructor, using the same materials. Students in the experimental group were introduced to three parallel corpora and encouraged to use them in their writing. Tests at the beginning of the semester showed no difference in English proficiency or writing ability between groups. Over the semester, students in both groups also wrote 5 writing assignments and took three writing exams. To examine students' perceptions of parallel corpora, students in the experimental group were asked to write a self-evaluation report and answer an evaluation questionnaire. Quantitative and qualitative analysis showed significant improvement in their writing but no significant difference between groups. However, students' perception of parallel corpora was generally positive.
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Introduction

The use of corpora in second language (L2) teaching and learning started in the 1980s and early ’90s with the increasing interest in corpus linguistics in general as a new research area. Several early studies investigated the use of corpora in language teaching and learning, such as Johns (1986) and Stevens (1991), and since then it has been receiving increasing attention (see Bennett, 2010; Bernardini, 2016; Boulton, 2011; Cobb & Boulton, 2015; Tribble, 2015; Jeaco, 2017; Wu et al., 2018; Bridle, 2019; Dolgova & Mueller, 2019). However, few studies have examined the effect of parallel corpora on students’ EFL skills in general and on EFL writing in particular. According to McEnery and Xiao (2007, p. 12) “a parallel corpus is composed of source texts and their translations in one or more additional languages.” Although parallel corpora have been widely and successfully used in linguistics and translation studies, their implications for L2 teaching and learning have not yet been fully explored (McEnery & Xiao, 2007). The purpose of this study is to examine the impact of the use of parallel corpora on EFL students’ writing, and students’ perceptions of the use of parallel corpora tools in their writing. First, the literature review on corpora use in L2 teaching and learning is presented followed by a description of the study design and procedures. The final sections present a discussion of the study’s findings and implications.

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