In much of the literature on the exploitation of corpora for language learning, the learners are viewed as researchers, who formulate and test their own hypotheses about language use. Having identified difficulties encountered in corpus investigations by our intermediate-level students of Italian in a previous study, we have designed a semester-long apprenticeship in corpus use which does not demand of them the high level of language proficiency, attention to detail in observation, and logical rigour that we consider necessary for rewarding work in the learner-as-researcher role. Instead, we introduce a corpus initially as an aid to the imagination in writing, and then to achieving accuracy through specific grammatical problem solving. We see this as the groundwork for subsequent development of the students’ research skills with corpus data. This paper describes the approach we have adopted to the corpus apprenticeship and reports on an evaluation of its effectiveness through case studies of three students and their use of a corpus and bilingual dictionary as reference resources when writing. Drawing on insights from the case studies, we outline a working definition of corpus-consultation literacy for our learning context and identify some refinements to be made to our apprenticeship.
In recent years, synchronous online peer response groups have been increasingly used in English as a foreign language (EFL) writing. This article describes a study of synchronous online interaction among three small peer groups in a Taiwanese undergraduate EFL writing class. An environmental analysis of students’ online discourse in two writing tasks showed that meaning negotiation, error correction, and technical actions seldom occurred and that social talk, task management, and content discussion predominated the chat. Further analysis indicates that relationships among different types of online interaction and their connections with subsequent writing and revision are complex and depend on group makeup and dynamics. Findings suggest that such complex activity may not guarantee revision. Writing instructors may need to proactively model, scaffold and support revision-related online discourse if it is to be of benefit.
This study investigated the effects of captioning during video-based listening activities. Second- and fourth-year learners of Arabic, Chinese, Spanish, and Russian watched three short videos with and without captioning in randomized order. Spanish learners had two additional groups: one watched the videos twice with no captioning, and another watched them twice with captioning. After the second showing of the video, learners took comprehension and vocabulary tests based on the video. Twenty-six learners participated in interviews following the actual experiment. They were asked about their general reactions to the videos (captioned and noncaptioned). Results from t-tests and two-way ANOVAs indicated that captioning was more effective than no captioning. Captioning during the first showing of the videos was more effective for performance on aural vocabulary tests. For Spanish and Russian, captioning first was generally more effective than captioning second; while for Arabic and Chinese, there was a trend toward captioning second being more effective. The interview data revealed that learners used captions to increase their attention, improve processing, reinforce previous knowledge, and analyze language. Learners also reported using captions as a crutch.