Language Learning & Technology
Vol. 5, No. 3, September 2001, pp. 2-3

FROM THE SPECIAL ISSUE EDITORS
Paginated PDF version


This Special Issue of Language Learning and Technology has been in the making for many months. We feel it has been worth the effort, and hope that our readers do, too. If you've never used corpus tools in your teaching or learning, we hope that the Special Issue inspires you to investigate further (the research bibliography that has been launched with this special edition should be helpful to this end). If you have been working with this kind of resource for some time, we are sure that you will find articles here that will help you extend and deepen your understanding of the potential of corpora and corpus tools.

The Articles

There are nine major articles in this edition of LLT -- making it one of the largest that the Journal has produced -- and they cover four broad areas of interest to language teachers and students. These concern the kinds of corpus that are most helpful for language learning and teaching; practical applications of corpus resources in special purposes teaching; using corpora in grammar teaching and language awareness raising; and finally the value of parallel aligned corpora (multi-lingual resources which are receiving growing interest in teaching and translation studies) in language learning and teaching.

In the first section, Lee's piece on problems that can arise for teachers and researchers who want to use the British National Corpus (BNC) is of particular relevance as his account of the problematic area of genre offers a comprehensive guide to the topic. The article is not uncontentious, however, as is made clear by Aston's response in which, while valuing Lee's contribution, he also points out reasons why the BNC has been structured as it is, and gives insights into how teachers can make fuller use of what it offers.

Following this account of issues associated with one of the most important English language corpora, Kennedy and Miceli discuss some of the ways in which language learners can benefit from the investigative approaches which corpus use encourages in language education, and Thompson and Tribble outline a practical application of corpus research methods in helping learners gain mastery of a central skill in academic writing -- citation. These two articles are followed by a further practically oriented paper in which Curado demonstrates the value of corpus informed teaching and learning in ESP, in particular in relation to vocabulary development.

The third section of the Special Issue considers matters more closely related the research/language teaching interface. Mollering 's article on German modal particles provides a very clear account of ways in which a corpus can be used in language description. Murphy 's paper on "emergent texture" demonstrates how a corpus based approach can provide significant information about interlanguage development. Finally, in section four there are two papers dealing with applications of parallel aligned corpora. Wang 's innovative piece shows that what might be considered a purely academic resource can offer learners very real benefits, and St.John 's article provides a neat demonstration of the practical relevance of parallel corpus informed teaching with beginner students of German.

The Columns

In On the Net, Jean LeLoup and Robert Ponterio provide guidance for " Finding Song Lyrics Online ," a wonderful way to bring authentic language materials into the classroom for use in learning vocabulary, grammar, and topical information. And in keeping with our Special Issue topic, Robert Godwin-Jones brings us information on " Tools and Trends in Corpora Use for Teaching and Learning " in his Emerging Technologies column.

The Journal's sponsors are key in publicizing and otherwise supporting the journal. Please take a moment to find out what these organizations do and what are contributing to the field of language learning and technology under Announcements .

Jennifer Leeman, the Reviews Editor, brings us reviews of three books and one software program this issue. John Lawler reviews Botley, Mcenery, & Wilson's Multilingual Corpora in Teaching and Research; József Horváth comments on Patterns and Meanings: Using Corpora for English Language Research and Teaching by Alan Partington; and Paul Thompson reviews Exploring Academic English: A Workbook for Student Essay Writing. Finally, Randi Reppen appraises MonoConc Pro and WordSmith Tools, software programs which are mentioned throughout this issue.

As editors, we have had the difficult task of selecting from a large number of contributions -- an indication of itself of the growing interest in this area. However, we have had wonderful support from the LLT team -- in particular Pamela DaGrossa, Managing Editor, and, of course, the Journal's General Editor Mark Warschauer, so many thanks to them. Also, we wish to thank the anonymous reviewers who have so generously given their time and professional insight. We hope that they (and you) feel that this special edition justifies their support.

Christopher Tribble
King's College London University (UK)
School of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies, Reading University (UK)

Michael Barlow
Rice University, Texas (USA)

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