Applied corpus linguistics for language acquisition, pedagogy, and beyond


Over the past four decades, corpora (i.e., large, systematic, computerized collections of texts) and corpus-analytic techniques have enabled insights into the nature of language that no other type of data or methodology had before. Corpora have profoundly changed the ways in which we see and describe language. As John Sinclair, a leading first-generation corpus linguist, observed in his seminal monograph Corpus Concordance Collocation, “the language looks rather different when you look at a lot of it at once” (1991, p. 100). 

In addition to general theoretical linguistics, a wide range of areas within applied linguistics have benefited from this different perception of and perspective on language. In this talk I provide an overview of research in applied corpus linguistics (ACL) with the goal to demonstrate what corpus linguistics can do for the AAAL community. My focus will be on studies in usage-based second language acquisition, the results of which are of direct relevance to language pedagogy. I will also look beyond the areas of SLA and pedagogy by sharing results from studies in corpus-based language assessment and empirical legal language analysis. Collaborative work with colleagues in applied linguistics and related disciplines has been essential in almost all of these studies. 

Since a particular strength of corpus linguistics lies in allowing us to uncover the patterned nature of language, the studies showcased in this talk will focus on central concepts in phraseology and formulaic language, including constructions, n-grams, and phrase-frames. I will also discuss unresolved issues and future directions, and share suggestions on how to expand our research agendas in ACL. I will conclude my talk by highlighting the importance of interdisciplinary work, and of collaboration in general, for a sustainable and impactful future of applied linguistics.


Ute Römer is an Associate Professor in the Department of Applied Linguistics and ESL at Georgia State University. From 2007 to 2011 she was director of the Applied Corpus Linguistics unit at the University of Michigan English Language Institute where she managed the Michigan Corpus of Academic Spoken English (MICASE) and the Michigan Corpus of Upper-level Student Papers (MICUSP) projects. Her research interests include phraseology, second language acquisition, academic discourse analysis, and the application of corpora in language learning and teaching. She serves on a range of editorial and advisory boards of professional journals (e.g., Corpora, International Journal of Corpus Linguistics, English Text Construction) and professional organizations (e.g., International Computer Archive of Modern and Medieval English, ICAME; American Association for Corpus Linguistics, AACL). She is also the General Editor of the book series Studies in Corpus Linguistics (John Benjamins). Her research has been published in a range of applied, corpus, and cognitive linguistics journals including Language Learning, The Modern Language Journal, Studies in Second Language Acquisition, Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, International Journal of Corpus Linguistics, Corpora, Corpus Linguistics and Linguistic Theory, and Cognitive Linguistics. More information about her work can be found at

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