Alphabet Street aka Corpus Symposium at VRTwebcon 8

I was delighted to be able to take part in my first webinar as a presenter. Leo Selivan (@leoselivan) asked me to join the corpus symposium for the 8th VRT web conference along side Jenny Wright (@teflhelper) and Sharon Hartle (@hartle). You can find links to our talks at the end of this post as well as my slides.

Presenting on a webinar is definitely a unique experience like talking to yourself knowing others are watching and listening in. Other things to be noted are making sure your microphone is loud enough and that uploaded powerpoints to online systems like Adobe Connect don’t show your slide notes!

My talk was about using BYU-Wikipedia corpus to help recycle coursebook vocabulary and was titled Darling (BYU) Wiki in homage to the recent passing of the great musician Prince. Another webinar note – people can’t hear the music from your computer if you have headphones on!

As I have already posted about using BYU-Wiki for vocabulary recycling, in this post I want to give some brief notes on designing worksheets using some principles from the research literature. When talking about the slide below I did not really explain in the talk what input enhancement and input flood were. And I also did not point out that my adaptation from Barbieri & Eckhardt (2007) was  very loose : ).


Input  enhancement  draws  learners’  attention  to  targeted grammatical features by visually or acoustically flagging L2 input to  enhance  its  perceptual  saliency but  with  no  guarantee  that  learners will attend to the features” (Kim, 2006: 345).

For written text they include things such as underlining, bolding, italicizing, capitalizing, and colouring. Note that the KWIC output from COCA uses colour to label parts of speech.

Input flood similarly enhances saliency through frequency and draws its basis from studies showing importance of repetition in language learning.

Szudarski & Carter (2015) concluded that a combination of input enhancement and input flood can lead to performance gains in collocational knowledge.

Hopefully this post has briefly highlighted some points I did not cover in my 20 min talk. A huge thanks to those who took the time to attend, to Leo and Heike (Philip, @heikephilp) for organizing things smoothly and my co-presenters Jennie and Sharon. Do browse the recordings of the other talks as there are some very interesting ones to check out.

Talk recording links, slides and related blog posts

Jennie Wright, Making trouble-free tasks with corpora

Sharon Hartle, SkELL as a Key to Unlock Exam Preparation

Mura Nava, Darling (BYU) Wiki

Question and Answer Round

My talk slides (pdf)

Summary Post by Sharon Hartle

8th Virtual Round Table Web Conference 6-8 May 2016 program overview

References and further reading:

Barbieri, F., & Eckhardt, S. E. (2007). Applying corpus-based findings to form-focused instruction: The case of reported speech. Language Teaching Research, 11(3), 319-346

Han, Z.,  Park, E. S., & Combs, C. (2008). Textual enhancement of input: issues and possibilities. Applied Linguistics 29.4: 597–618.

Kim,Y. (2006). Effects of input elaboration on vocabulary acquisition through reading by Korean learners of English as a foreign language. TESOL Quarterly 40.2: 341–373.

Szudarski, P., & Carter, R. (2015). The role of input flood and input enhancement in EFL learners’ acquisition of collocations. International Journal of Applied Linguistics.

7 thoughts on “Alphabet Street aka Corpus Symposium at VRTwebcon 8

  1. Cracking presentation, Mura. I thing I’d be more into doing something with a bunch of corpus lines and having students suss out the collocation/colligation/situational use of the target lexis rather than a sheet, but that’s my learners. Great stuff!

  2. hey Marc you are too kind ( i just clocked your tweet, am blushing!), i would say i have a lot of room for improvement for webinars, i need to study Jennie Wright’s style very effective

    i do what you recommend with the coursebook language and also prefer when i can to incorporate productive activities using mined corpus language

    the worksheets i feel are appropriate for revision purposes


  3. Yeah, I tend to (be told to use) rubbish books for TOEIC so I need an activity for heads up rather than down.

  4. Hi Mura,

    Just a quick question about noticing, or input enhancement (these two are the same, right?).

    You describe input flood and enhancement as revision activites, after the lexis has been encountered and studied previously.

    When using texts, I often get students to colour words or phrases I want them to use later, as I’m sure many people do. Extensions might, for example, then be to colour collocations, final -s or modal verb + v1 in certain ways to supposedly help them to consciously notice these features.

    But this is all in the first encounter with the new language and usually the items only appear once. So, I was wondering what you think the value in these activities is as I’ve been doing them compared to using them as revision activities with a flood of input?

    1. Hi Jamie, noticing theory is used to support input enhancement, do check the Han et al ref for a good intro to these issues.

      my main reason for highlighting these two – input enhancement, and input flood was to validate the use of concordances, it also falls under the topic of consciousness-raising tasks and focus on form instruction

      And yes you can use such activities with all stages first encounter, revision, testing, homework etc.

      hope that helps with your question?

      1. Thanks for that.

        Yeah pretty much answers it. I’m still thinking out loud about how to find out just how benefitial simple consciousness-raising activities involving underlining / highlighting / colouring are, especially when carried out on the subsequent encounters. Not the focus of your webinar though so no need to speculate!

        Cheers for the nod to the refs, will try and hunt it down.

Penny for your thoughts

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