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2006: Corpora for teaching and learning


1. To provide Aston University with (a) corpora (collections of electronic texts) and (b) customized software to analyse the texts, and (c) output materials in formats that will enhance teaching, learning, assessment, and feedback from student and teacher perspectives. There will also be a substantial impact on research.

2. Corpus studies have had an immense impact on language description over the past 20 years, dispelling many myths and discovering many hitherto unforeseen aspects of language in use. Wider impacts have also been felt through work on discourse analysis, genre analysis, and in translation studies. In recent years, attention has been increasingly focussed on the use of corpora for teaching and learning (eg see

3. The availability of the new resources, coupled with the provision of training sessions in their use for teachers and students, will create new opportunities, and introduce new methodologies, for teaching and learning.

4. The resources will increase flexibility for both teachers and students: teachers will have a wide range of texts available for the preparation of materials; teachers and students will have the opportunity to jointly investigate texts in a variety of new ways (e.g. word frequency lists and concordances); and students will be able to access the resources at any time for autonomous learning, for revision and extension of classroom input, etc. Teachers and students alike will acquire new insights and skills.

5. Initially, the emphasis will be on the teaching and learning of languages (English, French, German and Spanish) across the University. As well as general corpora, specialized corpora will be created for the investigation of specific domains and styles (e.g. Business texts, Academic texts, Journalism texts), and parallel and comparable corpora of original and translated texts for Translation Studies. The resources will initially be used within LSS, but they will later be released to the rest of the University, and the methodologies for their use will be disseminated. Teachers will get initial access, with students accessing later.

6. This project will build on Aston's reputation for e-learning (e.g. in LSS, Dr Roe's work on technical language corpora in engineering, medicine, and finance, mainly for English; various CALL and data-driven learning projects, etc). LSS colleagues currently rely on non-Aston data and software, which cost money and are not in our control; they will benefit from Aston-owned resources. Corpora are widely used in other Universities (see URL given at 3.2), so ACORN will restore Aston's competitive and progressive status.

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