Corpus-Informed Pedagogy in a Language Course: Design, Implementation, and Evaluation

Corpus-Informed Pedagogy in a Language Course: Design, Implementation, and Evaluation

Nina Vyatkina (University of Kansas, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2591-3.ch015

Abstract

Data-Driven Learning (DDL), or a corpus-based method of language teaching and learning, has been developing rapidly since the turn of the century and has been shown to be effective and efficient. Nevertheless, DDL is still not widely used in regular classrooms for a number of reasons. One of them is that few workable pedagogical frameworks have been suggested for integrating DDL into language courses and curricula. This chapter describes an exemplar of a practical application of such a pedagogical framework to a high-intermediate university-level German as a foreign language course with a significant DDL component. The Design-Based Research approach is used as the main methodological framework. The chapter concludes with a discussion of wider pedagogical implications.
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Introduction

Corpora, or large electronic collections of texts, have been used in language pedagogy since their inception in the 1960s. Corpus-based language learning and teaching methods and the associated research strand dedicated to exploring their effectiveness have also been known as Data-Driven Learning, or DDL, since Johns (1990) adopted this term from computer science. The body of work on DDL has grown exponentially over the last three decades and has by now convincingly shown that this method can be effective for different teaching targets in different teaching contexts. Nevertheless, DDL is still not widely used in regular classrooms for a number of reasons. One of them is that few workable pedagogical frameworks have been suggested for integrating DDL into language courses and curricula. Although many DDL researchers report on studies conducted within the framework of their own courses, it is impossible to provide details of a course design in a typical research article due to length limitations. This chapter aims to fill this gap by providing a report on a practical application of such a pedagogical framework to a language course with a significant DDL component. The chapter begins with a background section that presents a brief overview of empirical DDL research, including advantages and disadvantages of different types of corpora and DDL methods, thus explaining the rationale for selecting the DDL resources and the pedagogical approach for the course. Next, the study methodology is described. The Design-Based Research (DBR) approach was selected that has been broadly defined as “an emerging paradigm for the study of learning in context through the systematic design and study of instructional strategies and tools […, which] can help create and extend knowledge about developing, enacting, and sustaining innovative learning environments” (Baumgartner et al., 2003, p. 5). In the present study, this approach has been operationalized following ten steps suggested by Colpaert (2006) for Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL) courseware design. The bulk of the chapter presents a report on the design, implementation, and evaluation of a high-intermediate university-level German as a Foreign Language course with a substantial CALL (DDL) component that is mapped back onto these steps. In line with the DBR methodology, the chapter concludes with a reflection on how the affordances of the DDL technology were utilized for its meaningful integration into the focal language course, thus forming the basis for subsequent modifications to improve this specific instructional innovation.

The intended audience of this chapter includes language educators interested in implementing DDL in their courses as well as DDL researchers who plan to conduct classroom DDL research. Although the described course was designed and implemented in a specific language learning setting – teaching German as a foreign language at a US university – the suggested pedagogical framework and course design model are applicable to many different contexts with appropriate modifications.

Key Terms in this Chapter

ADDIE: An industrial design model that includes the steps of analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation.

Corpus: A large collection of texts selected in a systematic way and stored as an electronic database.

Design-Based Research (DBR): A research method used to study innovative learning environments that involves iterative steps of the exploration of the design, enactment of interventions, evaluation and analysis of the outcomes, and redesign.

Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL): The method of teaching and learning languages with the help of electronic tools and media.

Corpus literacy: A particular aspect of multiliteracies; ability to use corpus resources for autonomous language learning.

Data-Driven Learning (DDL): The method of teaching and learning languages with the help of corpora.

Multiliteracies: A pedagogical approach that capitalizes on collaboration, problem solving, and critical reflection and aims at developing learners’ cultural, linguistic, communicative, and technological proficiency.

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