The dozens of studies on academic discourse carried out over the past 20 years have mostly focused on written academic prose (usually the technical research article in science or medicine) or on academic lectures. Other registers that may be more important for students adjusting to university life, such as textbooks, have received surprisingly little attention, and spoken registers such as study groups or on‐campus service encounters have been virtually ignored. To explain more fully the nature of the tasks that incoming international students encounter, this article undertakes a comprehensive linguistic description of the range of spoken and written registers at U.S. universities. Specifically, the article describes a multidimensional analysis of register variation in the TOEFL 2000 Spoken and Written Academic Language Corpus. The analysis shows that spoken registers are fundamentally different from written ones in university contexts, regardless of purpose. Some of the register characterizations are particularly surprising. For example, classroom teaching was similar to the conversational registers in many respects, and departmental brochures and Web pages were as informationally dense as textbooks. The article discusses the implications of these findings for pedagogy and future research.
This book is about investigating the way people use language in speech and writing. It introduces the corpus-based approach to linguistics, based on analysis of large databases of real language examples stored on computer. Each chapter focuses on a different area of linguistics, including lexicography, grammar, discourse, register variation, language acquisition, and historical linguistics. Example analyses are presented in each chapter to provide concrete descriptions of the research methods and advantages of corpus-based techniques. Ten methodology boxes provide clear and concise explanations of the issues in doing corpus-based research and reading corpus-based studies and there is a useful appendix of resources for corpus-based investigation. This lucid and comprehensive introduction to the subject will be welcomed by a broad range of readers, from undergraduate students to professional researchers.
Using frequency findings from corpus linguistics, this paper explores the relationship between the information presented in ESL-EFL materials and what is known about actual language use based on empirical studies. Three aspects of materials development for grammar instruction are discussed: the grammatical features to be included, the order of grammatical topics, and the vocabulary used to illustrate these topics. For each aspect, we show that there are often sharp contrasts between the information found in grammar materials and what learners encounter in the real world of language use. In our conclusion, we argue that a selective revision of pedagogy to reflect actual use, as shown by frequency studies, could result in radical changes that facilitate the learning process for students.
Grammar can be viewed both as knowledge and as ability. When viewed as knowledge, the focus is on rules for sentence formation. When viewed as ability, the focus is on how grammar is used as a resource in the creation of spoken and written texts. Twelve principles are proposed as the basis for a pedagogy that focusses on acquiring learning to use grammar in texts. Each principle is illustrated with examples from classroom practice.
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