“distilling a wealth of linguistic knowledge into a form appropriate for A-level study”

Introducing A-Level English Language students to empirical text study using the WebCorp Linguist's Search Engine

The aim of this project is to introduce our WebCorp Linguist's Search Engine (WebCorpLSE) at secondary school level as a curriculum resource for the teaching of A-level English Language. In recent years, the subject criteria have been tightened, requiring more in-depth understanding of linguistic concepts and analytical techniques, and with an increased emphasis on independent learning. Our work will provide students with access to a novel, state-of-the-art teaching and independent learning aid, and distil a wealth of linguistic knowledge, gained from previous research projects in the field of Corpus Linguistics, into a form appropriate for A-level study.

At present, the corpus linguistic approach is rarely employed at pre-university level, if at all. A-level students do not, for the most part, have understanding of or access to many automated analysis tools beyond the spelling/grammar checker in Microsoft Word. This work will enrich the learning experience of A-level students by introducing them to WebCorpLSE. Through this, they will learn to apply corpus linguistic techniques to their language studies and their independent research projects. WebCorpLSE will also provide teachers and their students with a plentiful supply of authentic language data, relevant to all aspects of the A-level syllabus.

We are workling with a local partner school to optimise our approach for the new audience, developing new functionality, search interfaces and associated learning materials in response to ongoing feedback from teachers and students. Evaluation and dissemination of findings are central to our activities, and we shall be working toward a longer term aim of making WebCorpLSE a useful resource for A-level English Language students nationwide.

This work is funded under the AHRC Knowledge Transfer Fellowship Scheme.