GenGen – a tool to encourage playing with COCA?

Many teachers may not use reference corpora directly in class but may do so for personal language development. One way to encourage more of this use is to play with tools such as COCA. @tinysubversions recently released a web tool GenGen which allows you to generate sentences with variable slots.

At about the same time @mikeharrison tweeted this –

Swimming pools are not places for chatting.

This makes a great sentence frame – X are not places for Y. We can use COCA to look for relevant Xs and Ys, in this case plural nouns and -ing verbs. The COCA code for plural nouns is [*nn2*]  and [v?g*] for  -ing verbs. People plural nouns won’t of course make as much sense in our sentence frame as inanimate plural nouns. We have more choice when choosing -ing verbs.

Here is a quick example:

Having such playful immediate feedback on corpora searches using a tool like GenGen may prompt teachers to further explore the corpora playground.

This has been a quick fire blog post. Apologies if it does not seem to make much sense. I hope to refine my thoughts later 🙂

3 thoughts on “GenGen – a tool to encourage playing with COCA?

  1. Apologies for being a little slow but I am not sure how to use gengen. Once I’ve done a search on COCA for a structure, where will I find the URL to copy-paste into gengen?

    1. hi adi

      what you do is copy paste the +results+ of a coca search into a google spreadsheet.

      the mileage teachers get out of gengen may well be limited 🙂 but i think it is a quick and fun way to approach exploring coca.

      a use in class with students could be to ask them to guess which words were taken from coca, e.g. say you were using a sentence frame with collocates of take.


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