chapter  22
17 Pages

What Corpora Can Offer in Language Teaching and Learning

ByTONY MCENERY, LANCASTER UNIVERSITY, RICHARD XIAO

The corpus-based approach to linguistics and language education has gained prominence over the past four decades, particularly since the mid-1980s. This is because corpus analysis can be illuminating “in virtually all branches of linguistics or language learning” (Leech, 1997, p. 9; cf. also Biber, Conrad & Reppen, 1998, p. 11). One of the strengths of corpus data lies in its empirical nature, which pools together the intuitions of a great number of speakers and makes linguistic analysis more objective (McEnery & Wilson, 2001, p. 103). Unsurprisingly, corpora have been used extensively in nearly all branches of linguistics including, for example, lexicographic and lexical studies, grammatical studies, language variation studies, contrastive and translation studies, diachronic studies, semantics, pragmatics, stylistics, sociolinguistics, discourse analysis, forensic linguistics and language pedagogy. Corpora have passed into general usage in linguistics in spite of the fact that they still occasionally attract hostile criticism (e.g. Widdowson, 1990, 2000).1