Colloquium Organizer: Keith Folse
Understanding and Managing Core Vocabulary Lists in Language Education
Dee Gardner, Brigham Young University
The presenter will discuss, with examples, the linguistic reality of core vocabulary lists generated through corpus analysis, and how this knowledge could and should be used by teachers, curriculum designers, test makers, and materials developers to support the practices in actual language classrooms. This discussion will include a critique of traditional approaches to dealing with core vocabulary, and also a proposal for a new approach that is based on the aims of English for Specific Purposes (ESP), with a special emphasis on the vocabulary demands in the various disciplines of academic English.
Creating Word Lists to Incorporate Relevant Vocabulary in Grammar Lessons
Keith Folse, University of Central Florida
While most ESL programs have a grammar course or grammar base of some kind, vocabulary is often included in the curriculum quite randomly, if at all. Taking the view that grammar and vocabulary are in fact intertwined (i.e., a lexicogrammar approach), this paper discusses the creation of small lexical lists for two specific ESL grammar points using, respectively, the extensive, freely available Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA) and then the Academic Word List (AWL). It is hoped that this line of research will foster more research that would produce better information on the connection between grammar and (corpus-based) vocabulary.
Academic English Collocations and Their Semantic Motivations: Pedagogical Implications
Dilin Liu, University of Alabama
The presenter reports on a corpus-driven study of the most common academic English collocations and their semantic motivations. Besides describing the procedures taken to ensure the validity, reliability, and the pedagogical usefulness of the collocations identified, the presentation discusses how to make use of the collocations in language teaching, especially how to effectively teach collocations by focusing on their semantic motivations, rather than treating them as arbitrary combinations of words and having students learn them mainly through memorization. Exploring the motivations of collocations should help students better grasp these useful albeit challenging lexical items.
Lists of Formulaic Language
Norbert Schmitt, University of Nottingham
Most vocabulary lists have focused on individual words, but with increased awareness of the importance of formulaic language, lists of formulaic language are beginning to appear. This talk will first introduce various criteria for selecting which formulaic sequences to place on a list (e.g., frequency, utility, semantic opacity, L1 congruence). It will then review a number of recent lists, for example, the PHaVE List, the PHRASE List, and the Academic Formulas List. Finally, the implications of using these lists in pedagogy will be discussed.
Using Lists to Evaluate Word Choices in ESP Writing
Susan Conrad, Portland State University
The paper serves two purposes: (1) It describes a method for using corpus-based word lists for evaluating ESP writing, and (2) it warns against using lists without considering both discourse and situational contexts. Specifically, I share my experience using a word list to evaluate student writing in engineering. Collaboration with field-specific experts proved crucial for understanding the impact of word choices and highlighted the need to examine words in context. My experience exposed the problems in using decontextualized lists and raised concerns not just for ESP, but also for any lexical list.
Defining Usefulness: What Makes a Word List Useful?
Diane Schmitt, Nottingham Trent University
General and specific purposes word lists have proliferated with the advent of user-friendly tools for building and analyzing corpora. Creators of new lists also benefit from the methodologies of previous list makers. List creators are typically quick to tout the advantages and usefulness of their new lists. However, usefulness is a property of (1) the purposes for which lists are created, (2) the needs of users, and (3) the intended uses of lists. The presenter argues that usefulness is not a universal trait, and that list makers need to demonstrate that their lists are fit for their own specific purposes.