Contributor(s)Centre de Recherches et d'Applications Pédagogiques en Langues (CRAPEL) ; Université Nancy 2
Analyse et Traitement Informatique de la Langue Française (ATILF) ; Université Nancy 2 - Université Henri Poincaré - Nancy 1 (UHP) - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS)
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Corpora are attributed with considerable potential for language learning and teaching, yet the uptake in mainstream teaching practice remains surprisingly limited. In this talk I will briefly review empirical research in the field, before focusing on the specific case of France, where such corpus use retains a particularly low profile for a variety of reasons. My own research in French higher education covers a range of issues. Apart from the obvious questions of how French learners react to corpus consultation and whether it ‘works' in terms of immediate learning outcomes, it is relevant to consider longer term benefits, and how different presentations (e.g. hands-on, paper-based) can be used in different contexts (in class, in the computer room, in distance programmes) and for different purposes (not just for learning the language, but also as a reference resource, for translation, and across other areas of study such as literature and civilisation), as well as for different types of learners (in terms of language ability, learning styles, and specialisation). In all cases, my main aim has been to make use of the most accessible tools (general purpose, free on-line) and the simplest techniques so that students can, if they wish, continue using corpora on their own after completing the courses. Few would argue that corpora provide miracle solutions in all cases, and individual studies tend to be mitigated in their results – inevitably so, given the infinite number of variables involved. However, the picture that emerges from the research as a whole suggests there are grounds for optimism, and that the multiple affordances of language corpora means that they have something to offer for most teachers and learners.