Form-Focused Data-Driven Learning for Grammar Development in ESP Contexts
Keywords:languages for specific purposes, linguistics, applied linguistics, specialised discourse, discourse studies, pragmatics, language teaching, translation, interpreting, English for specific purposes, pedagogy
AbstractThe use of corpus-informed language in English for Specific Purposes (ESP) / English for Academic Purposes (EAP) teaching has considerably grown over the past two decades, especially due to the proliferation of course book material based on corpora. However, in terms of learning approaches to grammatical items, much less has been published commercially to train teachers in the use of corpora and their exploitation. DDL (Data-Driven Learning) techniques are still something to foster and publicize for ESP scenarios, since DDL tends to work as a productive method among learners whose L2 courses usually present specific (academic or professional) purposes in language use, as previous studies have shown. This paper deals with DDL as approached via hands-on concordancing by university students in the double degree of Business Administration and Tourism (B/T) in our institution. The targeted linguistic items were accessed via form-focused activities (e.g., noticing usage differences with verb tenses and synonymous verbs). Two grammar tests were administered to compare their results with another group that focused on the same grammatical points as delivered by an upper-intermediate, corpus-informed, textbook. The statistical findings reveal that the DDL group performed slightly better in the acquisition of such grammatical points, whereas most students felt that lexico-grammatical knowledge had been gained by relying on DDL to discover and apply usage patterns. Grammatical study may thereby evolve as a different perception in their minds due to corpus data exploitation and teacher-mediated discovery.
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