Final Report for a 1997 National Teaching Development Grant

Abstract

10 Key words or phrases that describe the teaching innovation Italian studies Second language learning Writing skills Intermediate/advanced undergraduate students Discovery learning Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL) Electronic corpus as reference resource EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The project was to construct a corpus – an online collection of authentic texts – as a reference resource for Italian students at intermediate and advanced levels, and to integrate its use into our teaching and learning approach at Griffith University, with particular attention to facilitating students' writing. The value of a corpus lies in the wealth of examples of authentic language use that it can provide. Interactive classroom work with corpora has recently become feasible thanks to the production of software packages capable of rapidly processing corpora of millions of words on personal computers. These tools allow browsing through the texts in a corpus, searching on single words or combinations in order to view lists of examples of their use (concordances) and the generation of frequency lists and other statistical reports. This means that corpora can complement dictionaries and grammar tools, by providing different kinds of evidence of word behaviour, with an accent on associations among words and between words and their context. Dictionaries and grammar tools give essential information on the potential uses of words, but usually accompany definitions with a limited number of examples which are either invented or detached from their context. A corpus can illustrate ways in which words are actually used and combined in practice, as well as characteristic structures, functions and vocabulary of specific genres and text types. We decided to construct our own corpus because the few Italian corpora available did not satisfy our requirement, which was for a sample of contemporary written usage, in a large number of short texts by many different authors, both professional and non-professional. Our corpus, which we have baptised CWIC (Contemporary Written Italian Corpus) consists of private letters and email messages, business/official letters and email messages, messages broadcast to email lists, letters to magazine and newspaper columns, film reviews and short magazine articles, covering a wide variety of topics and registers. The selection reflects our intention to use, as far as possible, types of text and language that our students encounter or are likely to produce in our courses and outside the formal study context. In our training, which has become an integral part of the 'writing workshop' strand of a second year …

Cite this paper

@inproceedings{Miceli2001FinalRF, title={Final Report for a 1997 National Teaching Development Grant}, author={Tiziana Miceli and Claire Kennedy}, year={2001} }