A Lexical Study Based on Corpora, DDL, and Moodle

A Lexical Study Based on Corpora, DDL, and Moodle

Yasunori Nishina (University of Birmingham, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-994-6.ch013
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This chapter suggests an effective method for lexical studies using Moodle within the framework of data-driven learning based on parallel concordances, and particularly shows how teachers can prepare and compile materials of a specific keyword for Japanese learners of English. It is often the case that knowledge of L1 possessed by EFL learners affects that of L2 when they do L2 writing. The author shows this using the case of the English abstract noun condition, because it differs in its usage (e.g., implied meaning and context) by English native speakers and by Japanese EFL learners. Errors of this kind can be overcome by presenting parallel concordances concerning translation equivalents and their synonyms of the English noun in question. Thus, the several steps in the compilation of classroom materials based on parallel concordances with Moodle are presented here.
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A survey conducted by Ryan (1996) shows that, out of 572 Japanese English language learners, learning grammar is their least favorite task in English classes, and that English conversation classes with native speakers are more popular with them because they do not need to learn grammar and can learn practical English. This stream is still seen in the current English language classroom in Japan, as the communicative-centered teaching with assistant language teachers (that is, English native speakers) is much more encouraged than the grammatical-centered teaching by Japanese teachers. The main reason that students dislike grammar would be a reputation for being complex, mechanical, and troublesome in its learning. Perhaps with an innovative method to inspire their interest, the current situation might be changed, as students will learn grammar not passively but actively.

Corpus linguistics revealed that lexis and grammar are closely interconnected, further suggesting that the acquisition of lexical information leads to the acquisition of grammatical information (cf. Sinclair, 1991; Nattinger & DeCarrico, 1992; Lewis, 1993, 1997, 2000; Hunston & Francis, 1999). That is to say, it is primarily important for non-native learners to acquire the lexical information to receive and produce L2 language task grammatically. There is a possibility that this can be effectively achieved for EFL learners by using parallel corpora, concordances, and data-driven learning (DDL) in a computer-assisted language learning (CALL) environment.

In particular, one of the advantages of adopting concordance lines in the language classrooms would be the visualization of the lexical patterns from the huge amounts of data (Stevens, 1993; Sinclair, 1986, 1991; Danielsson & Mahlberg, 2003). From these perspectives, the combination of corpora and concordances has much potential for language learning, especially lexical studies as demonstrated by the data-driven learning approach, pioneered by Tim Johns at the University of Birmingham (1991a, 1991b). The application of corpora and concordances into CALL has been regarded as an idea with high potential, and it is suggested that concordancer is particularly the most powerful tool and the preeminent software in language learning (Leech & Candlin, 1986; Tribble, 1990; Higgins, 1991; Hanson-Smith, 1993; Barlow, 2000; Chujo, Utiyama, & Nishigaki, 2005; Chujo, Utiyama, & Miura, 2006).

Among all, Chujo et al. (2006) still see the application of corpora and concordances into CALL as valid methodology for bilingual classrooms, by focusing more on bilingual corpora and a user-friendly environment. Following this suggestion, the author presents a case study on a specific keyword for Japanese EFL learners and seeks methodology on the use of DDL in the online environment for bilingual classrooms, by adopting Moodle and parallel corpora in this chapter.

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