EAP Knowledgebase

corpora – extra reading 01

This week I started an online course with Sheffield university about using Corpus tools in EAP. Here are some notes on the extra reading from the first week:

Vyatkina, N., & Boulton, A. (2017). Corpora in Language Teaching and Learning. Language Learning and Technology, 21 (3), 1–8. University of Hawaii,.

This article uses the abbreviation DDL – “data driven learning” to categorise the field. The term covers various strands of research, but they can be grouped as follows:
A– “theoretical underpinnings” – what the corpus data can tell us about the nature of language.

B– “descriptive”. Not really explained in the article, but I imagine articles that mainly describe particular practices used in the classroom or for materials writing and that speculate about future developments of the field.

C– Empirical evaluations – including learner attitudes, measuring the value of DDL for learners,

Empirical evaluations of the results from DDL as a teaching approach only start in around 2000. They note that there is relatively little DDL work done in the USA.

It uses the terms “emic” (from the subject’s perspective) to describe research done by asking students to fill in questionnaires…and “etic” (from the researcher’s or an external perspective) to describe research done with pre- or post intervention tests or other kinds of experimental control.

It notes two trends over time:

From lexico-grammatical studies towards greater interest in the characteristics of discourse.

From corpora as a learning aid towards corpora as a reference resource.

Legitimation Code Theory

Legitimation Code – what is “abstract”?

Karl Maton speaking to BALEAP in 2017 isn’t satisfied with the term “abstract“. Semantic Gravity goes from weak at the top – for things that depend less on context for their meaning (the process of photosynthesis), down through general groups of things (flowering plants without woody stems) to strong gravity at the bottom where the meaning is highly linked to a particular context (Taraxacum officinale, the common dandelion). The other dimension on the semantic plane is density. Semantic Density is the complexity of the practice related to the knowledge. The meaning of “gold” for a chemist is denser as a knowledge practice, than “gold” for an everyday person who hopes to be given a “gold watch”.

Some abstract knowledge practices are very simple. (He gives the example of management discourse = “rarefied code” to contrast with LCT = “rhizomatic code”).

There are real issues at stake here….one difference between jargon and theory is their semantic density they’re often lumped together and then bullshit masquerades as meaningful, and theory is dismissed as unnecessary. We see this in public discourse. We see it with the dismissal of experts and major economic and political decisions based on totally empty rhetoric. Nothing springs to mind immediately visiting Britain right now, but I’m sure that you can fill in an example…