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The potential of corpora – large computerised databases of language in use – has been proclaimed for over 30 years and yet, apart from their contribution to dictionaries and grammars, their influence on language teaching and materials has at best been erratic. In this talk, I will discuss what corpora have to offer, arguing that they are invaluable sources of information for teachers and materials writers about lexis, grammar and discourse. I will further argue that corpus linguistics has made us rethink the nature of lexis and grammar and the relationship between them. This poses questions about the relative priority we place on lexis and grammar and the items we select to teach. We will also consider direct uses of corpus tools in the classroom (data-driven learning). In light of the above, I will argue that an awareness of what corpus linguistics has to offer is essential for language teachers. However, I will argue that this must be a critical awareness: corpora are not a panacea; they are a really valuable tool and we need to be aware of the factors which determine when and where it is fruitful to make use of corpora for teaching purposes.

About the Speaker

Ivor Timmis is Emeritus Professor of English Language Teaching, Leeds Beckett University. He has notably written Corpus Linguistics for ELT: Research and Practice (accessible as an e-book through King's Library)


Event details

Waterloo Bridge Wing G/8, SE1 9NH
Waterloo Campus
57 Waterloo Road London, SE1 8WA