An investigation into the consultation of online concordancing tools by ‘English for Academic Purposes’ language learners

Hill, Martin M. (2009) An investigation into the consultation of online concordancing tools by ‘English for Academic Purposes’ language learners. MA dissertation, University of Portsmouth.

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    Abstract

    Variations of the Data Driven Learning approach, originally devised by Johns (1991), have been pursued by only a relatively small number of specialist practitioners. This investigation sought to establish whether a wider application of various forms of the Data Driven Learning approach was warranted within the sphere of ‘English for Academic Purposes’(EAP) programmes. On the basis of a review of the literature, it concluded that the further exploitation of concordancing tools by EAP teachers was justifiable. Substantial empirical evidence was found to support the case for wider exploitation of specialised corpora to facilitate broader and deeper lexical acquisition in certain EAP settings. Whilst the literature review revealed sufficient evidence of productive exploitation of concordancing tools by the EAP teacher, scant evidence, in contrast, was found of any research into the direct exploitation of online concordancing tools by the EAP learner. The research project attempted to address this deficiency in the research by exploring the scope for successful independent consultation of online concordancing tools by EAP learners on a pre-sessional course programme. EAP learners were invited to three piloting sessions and presented with a task-sheet requiring the exploration of four online concordancing tools. Their attitudes toward the application of these four varied tools were sought by questionnaire directly after completing the tasks, and later by interview. The findings suggest that only a small minority of pre-sessional programme EAP learners are sufficiently well-motivated to pursue the consultation of online concordancing tools independently. The study also found evidence that within the sample studied, this well-motivated minority will exploit the tools further in future bids to enhance their linguistic skills and lexico-grammatical awareness. Therefore, the investigation concludes, on the basis of its own findings, that there is scope for a further extension of this research work into the university’s later EAP course programmes. During this investigation the significance of the design limitations of the currently available online concordancing tools’ end-user interfaces became more apparent. Consequently, further research is recommended into the various options for the enhancement of the tools’ end-user interfaces. Proposals are provided for the routes that this software development work might take to improve the prospects of future independent consultation by a novice analyst being successful and productive.

    Item Type: Dissertation
    Departments/Research Groups: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Languages and Area Studies
    Depositing User: Jane Polwin
    Date Deposited: 20 Jan 2011 12:48
    Last Modified: 28 Jan 2015 11:15
    URI: http://eprints.port.ac.uk/id/eprint/740

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