The Corpus of Contemporary American English (Davies) on the Brigham Young University website has been used in the English as Foreign Language (EFL) classroom to help learners better understand how language works at different levels of analysis and also to develop their writing skills. However, it also allows learners to explore culture-related content, by giving them access to invaluable information about social, ideological, political and historical contexts. Moreover, it provides the means to examine the ways in which such aspects intersect with language and condition its use. The understanding of this cultural and discursive dimension of language is pivotal in the training of undergraduate students in the areas of humanities and social sciences. To determine how far the COCA can contribute to increase this awareness, a series of task-based activities involving writing was drawn up and carried out in an EFL class of undergraduate students. They were first introduced to this corpus analysis tool and encouraged to explore it further. Later on, in order to complete a writing task, they were prompted to resort to a series of strategies to collect information about relevant events, personalities and social or cultural phenomena, to analyse and interpret data, and to draw conclusions about the modes in which culture and language can interact. This paper provides (a) the rationale and a brief literature review on this topic, (b) a description of the task-based activities, the implementation process, the students’ strategies and the evaluation procedures, and (c) a critical reflection on this study that may open the path for further developments in this area.
Andersen, Hanne, Karen Lund, and Karen Risager. Culture in Language Learning. Aarhus UP, 2006.
Bennett, Genna. Using Corpora in the Language Learning Classroom: Corpus Linguistics for Teachers. University of Michigan, 2010.
Boas, Franz. A Franz Boas Reader: The Shaping of American Anthropology, 1883-1911, edited by G. Stocking, U of Chicago P, 1974.
Boas, Franz. Race, Language, and Culture. U of Chicago P, 1940.
Boulton, Alan. “Beyond Concordancing: Multiple Affordances of Corpora in University Language Degrees.” Languages, Cultures and Virtual Communities, vol. 34, 2012, pp. 33-38.
Boulton, Alan. “Hands-on / Hands-off: Alternative Approaches to Data-Driven Learning.” Input, Process and Product: Developments in Teaching and Language Corpora, edited by James Thomas and Alan Boulton, Masaryk UP, 2012, pp. 152-68.
Boulton, Alan. “Language Awareness and Medium-Term Benefits of Corpus Consultation.” New Trends in Computer-Assisted Language Learning: Working Together, edited by Ana Gimeno Sanz, Macmillan ELT, 2011, pp. 39-46.
Byram, Michael, and Peter Grundy, editors. Context and Culture in Language Teaching and Learning. Multilingual Matters, 2003.
Callies, Marcus. “Advancing the Research Agenda of Interlanguage Pragmatics: The Role of Learner Corpora.” Yearbook of Corpus Linguistics and Pragmatics 2013: New Domains and Methodologies, edited by Jesús Romero-Trillo, Springer, 2013, pp. 9-36.
Chang, Ji Yeon. “Korean Graduate Engineering Students’ Evaluations of Feedback from a Specialized Corpus on Academic English Writing.” Korean Journal of Applied Linguistics, vol. 29, no.1, 2013, pp. 245-71.
Chang, Ji Yeon. “Postsecondary EFL Students’ Evaluations of Corpora with regard to English Writing.” The SNU Journal of Education Research, vol. 19, 2010, pp. 57-85.
Chang, Ji Yeon. The use of General and Specialized Corpora as Reference Tools for Academic and Technical English Writing: A Case Study of Korean Graduate Students of Engineering. Seoul National University, 2011.
Chun, Sooin. “Learners as Corpus Researchers: The Process of Developing Inductive Vocabulary learning through Hands-on Concordancing.” Doctoral Dissertation. Chung-Ang University (Korea), 2011.
“COCA 01: Introduction to Using the Corpus of Contemporary American English.” YouTube, uploaded by TheGrammarLab, 12 August 2012, www.youtu.be/sCLgRTlxG0Y
Corbett, John. Intercultural Language Activities. Cambridge UP, 2010.
Council of Europe. Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment. Cambridge UP, 2001.
Davies, Mark. The Corpus of Contemporary American English: 450 Million Words, 1990-Present. Brigham Young University, 2008, www.corpus.byu.edu/coca/. Accessed 10 January 2018.
Diaz-Vera, Javier, and Rosario Caballero. “Exploring the Feeling-Emotions Continuum across Cultures: Jealousy in English and Spanish.” Intercultural Pragmatics, vol. 10, no. 2, 2013, pp. 265-94.
Dutra, Deise Prina, and Rejane Protzner Silero. “Descobertas Linguísticas para Pesquisadores e Aprendizes: A Linguística de Corpus e o Ensino de Gramática [Linguistic Discoveries for Researchers and Learners: Corpus Linguistics and the Teaching of Grammar].” Revista Brasileira de Linguística Aplicada, vol. 10, no. 4, 2010, pp. 909-30.
Ellis, Rod. Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching. Oxford UP, 2003.
Elsness, Johan. “Gender, Culture and Language: Evidence from Language Corpora about the Development of Cultural Differences between English-Speaking Countries.” English Corpus Linguistics: Variation in Time, Space and Genre. Selected Papers from ICAME 32, edited by Gisle Andersen and Kristin Bech, Rodopi, 2013, pp. 113-37.
Fang, Ling, and Wang Xingfu. “Self-Study and Classroom Use of the Corpus of Contemporary American English.” Foreign Languages in China, vol. 6, 2010, pp. 79-84.
Frankenberg-Garcia, Ana. “Learners’ Use of Corpus Examples.” International Journal of Lexicography, vol. 25, 2012, pp. 273-96.
Hinnenkamp, Volker. “Intercultural Communication.” Culture and Language Use, edited by Gunter Senft, et al., 2009, pp. 185-200.
Humboldt, Wilhelm Von. Schriften zur Sprachphilosophie, edited by Andreas Flitner and Klaus Giel. J. G. Cotta’sche Buchhandlung, 1979.
Hymes, Dell Hathaway. Foundations in Sociolinguistics: An Ethnographic Approach. U of Pennsylvania P, 1974.
Jones, Warwick Alfred. A Corpus-Linguistic Approach to Foreign/Second Language Learning: An Experimental Study of a New Pedagogic Model for Integrating Linguistic Knowledge with Corpus Technology. Master of Arts Thesis of the University of Hong Kong, 2011.
Karaata, Cemal, et al. “Enhancing the Use of Discourse Markers in Academic Writing: The Combination of Incidental Acquisition and Explicit Instruction.” Electronic Journal of Social Sciences, vol. 40, 2012, pp. 11-29.
Keck, Casey. “Corpus Linguistics in Language Teaching.” The Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics, Blackwell, 2013, www.onlinelibrary.wiley.com, doi: abs/10.1002/9781405198431.wbeal0256
Kim, Yu-Jeun. Effectiveness of On-Line Corpus Research in L2 Writing. MA Thesis. University of North Texas, 2009.
Kramsch, Claire. Context and Culture in Language Teaching. Oxford UP, 1993.
Kramsch, Claire. Language and Culture. Oxford UP, 1998.
Landure, Corinne. “Data-Driven Learning: Apprendre et Enseigner à Contre-Courant.” Mélanges Pédagogiques du CRAPEL, vol. 32, 2011, pp. 163-78.
Lange, D., and M. Paige, editors. Culture As the Core: Perspectives on Culture in Second Language Education. Information Age Publishing, 2003.
Liu, Dilin. “Going beyond Patterns: Involving Cognitive Analysis in the Learning of Collocations.” TESOL Quarterly, vol. 44, no. 1, 2010, pp. 4-30.
Liu, Dilin. “Making Grammar Instruction more Empowering: An Exploratory Case Study of the Use of Corpora in the Learning/Teaching of Grammar.” Research in the Teaching of English, vol. 45, no. 4, 2011, pp. 353-77.
Malinowski, Bronislaw. An Ethnographic Theory of Language and some Practical Corollaries. Corpus Inscriptionum Agriculturae Quiriviniensis; or, the Language of Gardens. An Ethnographic Theory of the Magical Word. Magical Formulae. Dover Press, 1935.
McEnery, Tony, and Richard Xiao. “What Corpora Can Offer in Language Teaching and Learning.” Handbook of Research in Second Language Teaching and Learning 2, edited by Eli Hinkel, Routledge, 2010, pp. 364-80.
Mehren, Anna. “Peculiarities in the Language of Superhero Comics: the Names of the Characters and their Translation into Spanish.” New Approaches to Specialized English Lexicology and Lexicography, edited by Isabel Balteiro, Cambridge Scholars, 2011, pp. 153-74.
Meunier, Fanny. “Corpus Linguistics and Second/Foreign Language Learning: Exploring Multiple Paths.” RBLA, vol. 11, no. 2, 2011, pp. 459-77.
Nurmukhamedov, Ulugbek, and Andrea R. Olinger. “Computer-Mediated Collocation: Resources for Exploring Word Choice in English Academic Writing.” Writing and Pedagogy, vol. 5, no. 1, 2013, pp. 121-50.
Orenha-Ottaiano, Adriane. “English Collocations Extracted from a Corpus of University Learners and its Contribution to a Language Teaching Pedagogy.” Acta Scientiarum Language and Culture, vol. 34, no. 2, 2012, pp. 241-51.
Rebechi, Rozane Rodrigues. “Corpus-Driven Methodology for Exploring Cultural References in the Areas of Cooking, Football and Hotel Industry.” Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, vol. 95, 2013, pp. 336-43.
Risager, Karen. Language and Culture: Global Flows and Local Complexity. Multilingual Matters, 2006.
Sapir, Edward. Selected Writings of Edward Sapir in Language, Culture and Personality, edited by David Goodman Mandelbaum, U of California P, 1963.
Robinson, Peter, editor. Task-Based Language Learning, John Wliley and Sons, 2011.
Skehan, Peter. “Task-Based Instruction.” Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, vol. 18, 1998, pp. 268-86.
Umesaki, Atsuko Furuta. “Using Corpora in the ELT Classroom.” Ritsumeikan Studies in Language and Culture, vol. 17, no. 4, 2006, pp. 61-96.
Umesaki, Atsuko Furuta. “Using Corpora for ‘Discovery Learning’ of English.” Ritsumeikan Studies in Language and Culture, vol. 18, no. 4, 2007, pp. 3-34.
Viana, Vander. “Authentic English through the Computer: Corpora in the ESOL Writing Classroom.” Effective Second Language Writing, edited by Susan Kasten, TESOL International Association, 2010, pp. 163-68.
Viana, Vander, and Stella Esther Tagnin, editors. Corpora no Ensino de Línguas Estrangeiras. HUB Editorial, 2011.
Wagner, Susanne. “Concessives and Contrastives in Student Writing: L1, L2 and Genre Differences.” Academic Writing in Europe: Empirical Perspectives, edited by Joseph Schmied, Cuvillier Verlag, 2011, pp. 23-49.
Wang, Xingfu, et al. “The Corpus of Contemporary American English – A Useful Tool for English Teaching and Research.” Computer-Assisted Foreign Language Education in China, vol. 5, 2008, pp. 24-31.
Whorf, Benjamin Lee. Language, Thought, and Reality: Selected Writings of Benjamin Lee Whorf, edited by John B. Carrol, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1956.