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    • #38943

          OK, we’re keen to hear what you have to say about these text tools. You ran a text through various text tools (webcorp, Oxford text checker, Flax) and got out some data:

          • Did any of the statistical/linguistic information you learnt about the text surprise you?
          • Do you think doing a similar activity with your students would be helpful/useful to them? Why/why not?


        • #43935
          Jamie Sullivan

              Did any of the statistical/linguistic information you learnt about the text surprise you?
              It is clear from the analysis of the text that some corpus tools provide greater insight than others. For example, the ‘Oxford 3000’ word list provided analysis of a far broader range of words than the ‘OPAL written words’ equivalent of the same text, identifying the use of more complex higher order academic vocabulary. This could then be utilised for identifying areas of strengths and weaknesses in terms of the application and scope of student’s writing.

              Do you think doing a similar activity with your students would be helpful/useful to them? Why/why not?
              I have used a similar approach in conjunction with the BNC in previous EAP lessons and the activity worked quite well. In retrospect it worked for a number of reasons such as:

              • It may allow students to see the practical value of corpus tools in relation to their particular discipline
              • It could provide an insight into the learner’s application of the language rather than focusing on the correct form etc. which would be particularly useful when analysing student’s draft assignments for example
              • I think my students would benefit from using a corpus tool such as Flax to increase depth around collocations
              • Similarly I think a corpus tool like WebCorp would also be beneficial in identifying over-reliance on specific terms or other errors
              • Students can use the various corpus tools themselves thereby fostering student autonomy


            • #44168
              James Hanlon

                  Hi! I am not sure if used it correctly. I didn’t seem to be able to enter the text into Flax. I will check the how to guides shortly. I am not sure that I got the answers to the questions in the previous part. For example, the most frequent word according to webcorp seemed to be “corpora” with 20, but “the” is not featured on the list despite featuring in the text.

                  Surprising: The low number of C1 words. Just a handful in the whole text. Indicating that B2 is an acceptable level for academic study. Additionally, the C1 words often appeared to arrive in clusters, meaning it could be difficult for B2 readers to “guess” the meaning of those sentences.

                  Usefulness for students: I agree with Jamie that it could be useful in deepening their understanding of collocation. Perhaps it could be used to show the low appearance of overused students’ collocations (“development of technology”, I’m looking at you). Or maybe it would be me to have my eyes opened to the fact that academic writers really do often suggest that the “government should enact some policies to solve the problem”. Put another way, it may be interesting or useful to highlight difference in student usage and authentic/real academic (for want of a better word) usage.

                  I would need a better understanding of exactly what the tools are capable of to think more clearly about classroom applications. However, I feel that the problems my learners have with academic writing are more complex and intermingled with problems in other skills (eg they did not clearly understand the source material when they read it). I know no one is claiming these corpus tools are a silver bullet, but my EAP students are usually around 5.5 IELTS and collocation are not their main problem. I wonder what we could realistically expect our learners to get from exploring corpus texts or treating a set of first drafts as a corpus. Clearly, the fault here is mine, and I will have to spend longer familiarising myself with the tools mentioned. If anyone has concrete activities or experiences I would be all ears.

                • #44197
                  Vasiliki Zinonos
                      1. As @James mentioned above, I am surprised as well at the low number of C1 words, which may mean that B2 level is ‘preferred’ or ”accepted”, so that it perhaps facilitates understanding!?
                      2. I think Oxford text checker would be useful to my students, as it will allow them to reflect on their level of language and help them elevate their level of lexis. Flax would be useful to students too, as it may help them have a better insight on the various grammatical structures and applications of different words or collocations. This will inform their knowledge and facilitate its application. As, @Jamie said all these tools can definitely foster student autonomy and self-direction pertaining to their academic writing.


                    • #44358
                      Catherine Lewis

                          I was also surprised by the low number of C1 words in the text. However, I feel that it is the large number of complex noun phrases in academic texts that make them difficult to understand rather than individual complex words. It would be good if these tools could highlight noun phrases as well. I will have to do some research to find this out.

                          I think the Oxford Test checker would be useful to students as they could analyse their own writing and academic texts. These would help students to  develop their receptive and productive skills. I think Flax is useful to develop students’ understanding of words they already ‘know’. By focusing on what comes before and after words can help them to make their writing more accurate. These tools can also help students to become independent learners as they can easily be used asynchronously.

                        • #44370
                          Karolina Jasinska

                              Similarly to what the other have already said, I am surprised that A1 Level words constitute 61% of the words picked up by the Oxford Text Checker. But as Catherine said, would be interesting to use the same kind of tool but for phrases rather than words and check the results then.

                              I believe doing a similar activity with my students would be really useful to some of them. I think it would make them more aware of what words/phrases they use. It would also help them revise/learn correct collocations frequently used in academic English.

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