#IATEFL 2017 – ELF, Juncker and the striptease dance of culture

Apologies in advance for bandwagoning a news item and IATEFL 2017, I hope my attempt is worth a read.

The switch from talking about language to talking about culture is an easy one to make. So it is not surprising that defenders of native speakerism invoke culture as a reason people want to learn a language from a native speaker. English culture from a native speaker is a proxy for ownership. As Martin Kayman notes 1 there is a long tradition of talking about language that involves the idea of property. He cites the definition of English by Dr. Johnson in his famous dictionary “E‘NGLISH. adj. [engles, Saxon]. Belonging to England”. More recently Henry Widdowson asserted “[English] is not a possession which [native speakers] lease out to others, while still retaining the freehold. Other people actually own it.” And Jacques Derrida stated “I only have one language; it is not mine”

Claims that to learn a language one needs to know its culture are heavily imbibed with ideas of ownership.

When Marek Kiczkowiak states 2 that “English is a global language. It’s the official language of over 50 countries.” he is trying to highlight the release of English ownership from its far British and near US history. Kayman points out that the first modern efforts of dis-embedding English from the old narrative can be seen in the simultaneous development of Communicative Language Teaching and the modern technologies of global communication such as the internet, email etc. That is, English was the preferred language for communication through its association with the evolving technologies while at the same time language pedagogy was promoting communicative functions rather than linguistics structure or cultural content. So in this way culture as a communicative function became available to all.

An audience member at the IATEFL ELT Journal debate on ELF hints 3 at this Kayman origin story (though her immediate point is about dilution of the term ELF):
“I don’t know about linguistic imperialism but it seems to me that ELF is becoming as pervasive and invasive in its claims to relevance and just as unclear to me as the term communicative once was. I can remember hearing things here about accommodation, about communication strategies. And also wondering a little bit how some interpretations of ELF are any different from interpretations and pedagogic implications of dealing with interlanguage once was.”

Yet Kayman argues this subordination of culture to functional properties of communication did not really release it from its English inheritance. The spread of communicative language teaching was mainly due to British, Australian and American academics, the new materials from Anglo publishing houses, new methods promoted through the British Council etc. Kayman points to the work of Robert Phillipson which showed that the adoption of English as a global language is fundamentally incompatible with an emancipatory project. The alternative approach is multilingualism. By contrast ELF promotes English.

ELF moves the subject from the native speaker to the non-native speaker and hence can be said to complete the project  started by communicative language in the 70s and 80s. This shifting of the subject of English runs in parallel with the shifting of the site of English from the home nations of the language as Marek points out “It’s the official language of over 50 countries”.

This means that ELF and globalization are intimately entwined and hence English is privileged in the project of globalization. Further with the use of the term lingua franca in preference to international language, world English world Englishes, global English, etc. Kayman sees a return to the vexed issue of ownership.

Marek asks “So what does culture even mean in relation to the English language?”. The defenders of native speakerism claim that English is still owned by the home countries whilst advocates of non-native speakerism claim English is a language where notions of culture are devoid of meaning.

A Forbes magazine writer, on a recent tongue-in-cheek claim (on the slow loss of English in Europe) by polyglot EU President Jean Claude Juncker, recalls 4:
“And as someone with some decades of working and living in non-English speaking lands I really should point out that English becomes more important the fewer English there are about…However, the thing about is (sic) is that it is relentlessly stripped of anything which is not a shared cultural idea.”

So English can be “stripped” of its cultural baggage and be used instrumentally by those who wish to do so. Yet can language so easily escape its cultural history? New meanings are not created out of nothing, hybrid forms are possible because language carries potential meaning that are dependent on culture and enacted and traced to specific contexts. Kayman claims that Jennifer Jenkins’ view of ELF as a bastard child can only be so in an “English” way. He states that English can only be free from cultural locations to the extent illustrated by John Locke  “in the beginning all the World was America”.

The new American world was an empty land, land owned by no one. Jenkins’ is a postmodern inversion of Locke’s imperialistic concept of  America. Locke and Jenkins, though having opposing aims (colonial justification and tool for emancipation respectively), have in common that both are u-topian – spaces where things exist without already being the property of anyone in particular. Yet the drive of globalization and the  commodification of everything includes ELF, English as a global language, world Englishes etc. These commodities are branded with the emancipatory vision of globalization. Seen in slogans by the British Council such as “making a world of difference”.

And so the cultural political dance of English..the culture dance of English..the dance of English continues to be performed by many different players, in many different settings.

Notes:

1. Kayman, M. A. (2009). The lingua franca of globalization:“filius nullius in terra nullius”, as we say in English. Nordic Journal of English Studies, 8(3), 87-115. (pdf) – [http://ojs.ub.gu.se/ojs/index.php/njes/article/download/361/354]

2. Native speakers know the culture? – BBELT 2017 plenary part 2

3. IATEFL 2017 ELT Journal Debate

4. Jean Claude Juncker Insists English Is Losing Importance In Europe – In English To Be Understood [https://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2017/05/05/jean-claude-juncker-insists-english-is-losing-importance-in-europe-in-english-to-be-understood/#2ba975ae57f2]

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#IATEFL 2017: Meta may not be better

Apparently there were several mentions at IATEFL 2017 to the meta-meta-analytical report of John Hattie:

Click image to see all mentions

I won’t talk here about the wisdom of importing studies based on secondary school subjects into language learning. What I will do is summarise the main argument from Adrian Simpson (a professor in mathematics education) 1 against using meta-analysis study rankings to drive educational policy. I hope to briefly use the examples he gives  (which I have more or less paraphrased or reported verbatim) to allow us to be a bit better informed about the growing trust in meta-analysis in language teaching.

A meta-analysis tries to summarise studies of interest using a statistic called the effect size.  A meta-meta analysis summarises other meta-analysis. John Hattie’s report 2 and the Education Endowment Foundation, EEF 3, a UK government supported organisation, use meta-meta-analysis.

Simpson defines an effect size as the standardised mean difference – that is the difference in mean scores between treatment groups divided by a measure of how those groups vary – usually called Cohen’s d statistic.

Simpson argues that the numbers produced by Hattie and the EEF in league tables do not reflect larger educational impacts but rather they reflect more sensitive studies. Hence we should not use them to drive educational policy. There is some suggestion that teachers and policy makers uncritically accept that higher ranked factors are educationally more important.

For example at IATEFL 2017 Sarah Mercer in her plenary stated 4:

Some of you may know John Hattie’s meta-study, where basically he looked at lots of research lots of studies that have been done in education and he tried to look at what was the sort of key things that influence education and achievement. And he filtered them down to 138 factors. Where do you think relationships were in this? Relationship between the teacher and the learner? That’s 138 of all the most important factors in education. Number 11. Now I gotta tell you that’s really high. Just to give you a clue. Motivation is down at 51.  So it’s hugely important and makes a massive difference to learning, engagement and other positive outcomes of education.

My emphasis of the quote shows acceptance that higher rankings mean better educational outcomes. Simpson describes three issues that affect the size of the Cohen d statistic – comparison groups, sample selection and outcome measures.

Comparison groups
Imagine 2 farmers. One farmer plants two rows of bean seeds. In the first row, the experimental row, she plants seeds in fertilizer; in the 2nd comparison row she uses no fertilizer at all. On her comparison row her beans grow to a mean length of 10cm with a standard deviation (SD) of 1 cm. In her experimental row beans grow to a mean length of 11cm and SD of 1cm. So she reports a d = (11-10/1) = 1.
The second farmer thinks his fertilizer is better than manure. So in his experimental row he plants seeds in fertilizer. In his comparison row he plants seeds in manure. He finds his comparison row beans length to be a mean of 10.5cm and SD of 1cm, experimental row length mean of 11cm and SD of 1cm, so d = (11-10.5/1) = 0.5.

We cannot now say that the first farmer’s fertilizer has a larger impact on bean length compared to the second farmer’s. Nor can we combine two d values to provide a meaningful estimate of the effectiveness of the fertilizer. The farmers were using different comparison groups (the first no fertilizer, the second manure).

We should ask, if we think back to the two factors Mercer highlighted – what groups were compared for the teacher relationship effect size and what groups for the motivation effect size?

Sample selection or range restriction
To illustrate this consider the first farmer choosing seeds from a nursery that did not give very long or short beans; the second framer chooses seeds at random from the nursery. Then at the end of their trials the first farmer will report a bigger effect size than the second because the first farmer restricted the range of her sample. While both farmers may find similar mean differences in average bean length the first farmer will have a smaller variance, hence the denominator in the calculation of d is smaller and the d statistic (effect size) will be bigger.

So what was the sample selection like for the studies in the teacher relationship meta-analysis compared to sample selection in the studies of the motivation meta-analysis?

Range restriction can be corrected for but Simpson claims there is no evidence that the meta-meta-analysis of Hattie and the EEF does this.

Design of measures
A researcher can increase their chances of finding a significant difference between groups if they use a test very similar to the nature of the intervention or if they increase the number of test items.
Consider that unknown to the farmers the fertilizer is only effective on beans which are exposed to direct sunlight not those shaded. So now the first farmer selects beans to measure from those which are easy to reach i.e. those that tend to be exposed to sunlight. The second farmer selects across the plants including those hidden under leaves. The first farmer will report a larger mean difference (and so bigger effect size) than the second farmer since all the beans in her sample will have been affected by the fertilizer while the second farmer includes many shaded beans not affected.

We should ask about the relationship of the outcome measures to the interventions for the teacher relationship and motivation studies.

The above illustrates the focus of an outcome measure, its precision or accuracy can also change the effect size.

Consider the first farmer measures mean length of 5 beans chosen at random from each plant and the second farmer measures mean length of 10 beans. The second farmer could report an effect size much larger than the first. By choosing a larger number of beans to measure the second farmer gets a more precise estimate of mean length of beans i.e. reduces the contribution of within plant variance. So again like restricted range above we divide by a smaller standard deviation for the second farmer hence larger d.

So how precise were the measurements used for the teacher relationships studies compared to the motivation studies?

Simpson suggests that effect size is mis-named. It is better to name it effect clarity, i.e. a large d means a difference between groups is clear. It does not mean that the difference is large or important or educationally significant.

As Simpson emphasizes individual study decisions regarding the three factors of comparison groups, sample selections and measurement design are a normal part of the research design. The argument is that meta-analysis and meta-meta-analysis which attempt to rank order study interventions based on effect size are misleading.

Thanks for reading.

Notes:

1. Simpson, A. (2017). The misdirection of public policy: Comparing and combining standardised effect sizes. Journal of Education Policy, 32(4), 450-466.

2. Hattie, J. (2008). Visible learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. Routledge.

3. Education Endowment Foundation, Teaching and Learning Toolkit [https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/resources/teaching-learning-toolkit/]

4. IATEFL 2017 Plenary session by Sarah Mercer

#IATEFL2017: How to shoehorn a talk

The subtitle to the talk “Infusing teaching materials and practices with new insights on learning” 1 on the Cambridge site was:
“What does the latest evidence tell us about how language is acquired? How might we apply these insights when course books seem to impose a predetermined way of teaching and assessing learners?”

When I read this subtitle I was pretty darn interested. Alas it seems the subtitle editor did not consult with the presenter (Dr. Gad Lim). For in the talk, the “pre-determined” approach of coursebooks (CB) is not addressed. Talk of CB is confined to the second half of the presentation and then only to shoehorn example pages from an unknown CB to illustrate some learning principles outlined in the first part of the talk.

Also as an unashamed Chomsky fan the unnecessary and mistaken needling comments against generative grammar theory was irksome. But I will let that lie in this post : )

What was more of an issue was the muddying of the research waters on language learning. In one of his final comments the presenter states:

“What you think about learning will make a difference in how you teach so I hope today you have learned a little bit about how language learning actually happens,..”

That is a fine sentiment yet I thought he gave a very partial account. It would have been great if references to the theories he talked about were given (maybe audience members got such refs included in a handout?). In the talk itself the names of the theories he alludes to are not stated. He mainly covers usage based theories but other things such as meta-cognitive strategies when he talked about self-assessment near the end are also used.

“..it’s not that black box. Our brains are actually quite good at processing frequency information, contextual information, recency information, a lot of automaticity but there is that other part of our brain that just needs things pointed out; okay that’s a more recent part of our brain that just needs things pointing out; it’s harder work but if you just put these two things together learning happens best; and if you can think about each one of these things and how you might actually apply them in the classroom in the materials you create then learning should happen much more efficiently for your learners”

The main meat of the first part of the talk was trying to convince the audience that information from stimuli in the environment such as frequency information are used by people to learn languages. Certainly a good case for frequency effects in language learning has been put forward by people such as Nick Ellis 2. However claiming that CBs that include highly frequent items are following the findings of “new insights” need to be put aside the counterclaim that CBs could also be said to be using the old insights of frequency principles as laid out by the progenitor of the audio-lingual method Robert Lado.

“so if you actually had materials where you repeat the same idea in several different ways then you get some practice repeatedly.”

The above statement comes along with the following screenshot of a page from an unknown CB:

Shoehorn 1

The claim is that it is enough to make some feature in the input salient enough such as “repeat the same idea in several different ways” where the example in the screenshot of the CB is of repeating connecting words in matching, gap fills and sentence completion exercises.

However theories such as Bill VanPatten’s processing input shows “just because something is made more salient or more frequent in the input does not mean that learners will process it correctly or even process it at all” 3. So if we take connectors what is it about processing input containing connectors such as and, but, so, because that causes issues for learners? Once such processing issues can be identified appropriate structured input activities can be written.

The following screenshot of a table of contents divided into themes is meant to illustrate the principal of context:

Shoehorn 2

In fact I say it shows a handy organizer for material writers rather than context effects for language learners.

In reference to the following two screenshots of signposting language in spoken and written registers:

Shoehorn 3
Shoehorn 4

the presenter says:
“If you put them close to one another they will learn to know that some of these signposting words go with spoken language and some of them go with written language.”

Highlighting spoken and written forms of language items can be as helpful as saying oh you use that in more informal contexts and that in more formal contexts. Again the same criticism VanPatten makes earlier applies, that is, the CB example ignores the problem of processing input.

Next he equates recency with recycling and makes the following statement without any seeming sense of self-awareness (with regard to course books):

“in fact quite often our students will not necessarily learn the thing at the exact point you first taught it, okay..”

This assumption “that learners learn what teachers teach when they teach it” is what Michael Long highlights all CBs implicitly adopt 4; further all CBs do not take into account the learner’s internal syllabus. Learners will only acquire language when they are good and ready.

The presenter does acknowledge the role of the learner somewhat in the following statement:
“..which would argue for, sadly , it means you need to observe your students and you need to go back and you need to do your lesson planning in an iterative fashion. Figuring out what they haven’t gotten or just expose them to the same thing several times throughout so that they have different opportunities to pick it up”

But then he goes and spoils it by another CB shoehorning attempt:

Shoehorn 5
Shoehorn 6

Either that or some Cambridge bod signaled, sotto voce, it was time for another CB screenshot “Gad, show em the adverbs of frequency that appears in more than one place in the book”

He goes on to mention spaced repetition in relation to recency but how does a coursebook space out learning items? This is not mentioned but another blatant attempt to rationalize the CB by linking it to a learning effect without any further comment.

It seems to me that the presenter had got excited about some psycho-linguistic evidence for usage based theories and wanted to give a talk on that. Unfortunately his employers insisted he tie that to coursebooks and that is where this talk went awry.

Thanks for reading.

Notes:

  1. Infusing teaching materials and practices with new insights on learning

2. Ellis, N. C. (2002). Frequency effects in language processing. Studies in second language acquisition, 24(02), 143-188.

3. VanPatten, B. (2009). Processing matters in input enhancement. In Piske, T. & Young-Scholten, M. (eds.), Input matters in SLA (pp. 47-61). Bristol: Multilingual Matters.

4. Long, M. H. (2009). Methodological principles for language teaching. In Long, M. H. & Doughty, C. J. (eds.), Handbook of language teaching (pp. 373-94). Oxford: Blackwell.

#IATEFL2017 – A very partial commentary

The following is my very partial take of the first presenter in Outside in: bringing new technology perspectives to ELT 1. I play the role of the Muppet critics Statler and Waldorf, as this urge seems to come across me often when reading about technology in language learning. So do take it with that spirit in mind.

Ooh an image on this blog not seen that for a while, if ever

Derek, Duncan, Donald Clark asserts:
“Actually many many more people learn language outside the context of a classroom and formal courses than ever do in classrooms.”

Fair enough this seems a truism, as people do spend more time outside of school or formal learning and so potentially learn more outside of formal context. Donald Clark continues with:

“In this country we have tens of thousands of kids learning German, Spanish, Italian and French and barely any of them can come out and even ask for a cup of coffee in the target country after 8 years of sitting in a classroom.”

Assuming language classes are indeed offered for 8 years at say 2 hours a week for 38 weeks that’s 608 hours  which would arguably be enough for a low aptitude student to reach a low intermediate level of proficiency and be able to order a cup of coffee 2.

So what’s going on!? The horror!

Clark adds:
“But generally, the reason why many more people are learning English outside the classroom is because of technology. Wherever I go, I travel all over the world, I meet young people who constantly say two or three things to me when I say how did you learn your English. They say Youtube, number 1, they say music number 2, they say movies and increasingly young people around the world have access to every single video and movie by torrenting and not paying for it at all.”

When I met my wife some 13 years ago,  who is from France, and I asked her how she learned English, she mentioned listening to Beatles songs on top of working hard in English classes in school. So arguably young people today do similarly but has the increased accessibility of interesting content via technology led to more English learning? A claim to be investigated and not taken at face value.

The next bit of presentational style is:
“AI is the new UI.”

Clark goes on to point out many commercial services such as Twitter, Facebook, Google, Netflix, Amazon use AI.

“AI is the guiding hand in almost everything you do online except learning. So when you go on a VLE or Moodle it’s like stepping back into the 1990s a little bit because that is the 1990s actually. That’s where it comes from.”

Clark seems very tickled by this.

The laugh seems to be on him since if we take Google as an example when they started all their technology was from 1990’s AI work 3.

Moving on Clark says:
“Look at the things that’s happening in AI here. NLP, speech to text, text to speech all of this is entirely relevant to what you do for a living. AI is starting to tackle some serious issues around the teaching and learning of languages. So you cannot ignore this. It’s huge and it already is huge.”

One could say if we take NLP that it is has been “relevant” to teachers since the 1980s. Maybe Clark meant commercially driven relevancy? What serious issues is AI starting to tackle in the teaching and learning of languages? Is it serious issues such as lack of teachers which is being tackled by say video conferencing in projects like Plan Ceibal? Probably not what Clark is pushing. Side note the “huge” remark somehow reminded me of the “massive” remark by a well loved ELT bod 4.

Clark goes on to talk about bots in various enterprises:
“Bots are everywhere. Duolingo is an AI driven system out of Carnegie Mellon, it’s worth half a billion dollars, it’s got a 150 million people on it. If you don’t think AI is coming at your market, think again. It’s been there for a while. And of course they’ve added bots onto this as well.”

Adding without any seemingly obvious sign of irony, referring to bots:

“Don’t get too carried away though they are incredibly difficult things to make and not particularly effective if you get it wrong.”

Clark continues:

“Alexa..I have an immersive language system which is absolutely free sitting in my house”

He forgets to mention – sitting in your house hovering up your personal information, mind you he does add later it costs 150 “bucks” which is cheap apparently (Does he mean cheap compared to teachers?)

He talks about a “cool” maths app which is all very nice but not relevant to learning languages, a very different learning challenge.

He modestly mentions his company and a company he consults for. He mentions assessment via an hilarious meme.

““If only I had a few more papers to grade” said no teacher ever”

That is very funny that is.

One of his final comments would have made a much more interesting start to this talk:
“We have a chance as educators to change the world for the good…”

If Clark had started by describing how he thinks educators can change the world for the good via technology the talk would have certainly resonated. A direction that Professor Yvonne Rogers took well by beginning her talk with the vision of promoting collaborative learning, curiosity and playfulness. Methinks Prof Rogers has had more experience presenting to teachers than to investors.

A final comment when asked a question from the audience “Will teachers be replaced by robots?” Clark suggested that the “first wave” of replacements was seen with “Google and librarians”.

“The number of librarians in the world has dropped and it’s not a neo-liberal plot. People don’t go to libraries any longer and that’s the truth of the matter”.

If we can take US trends as similar to world trends then:
“If libraries receive more public funds, more people use them. And if governments invest less in its libraries (as they have since 2009), fewer people visit—though the drop in visits from disinvestment isn’t as strong as the rise from investment would be.” 5

So maybe it is a neo-liberal plot after all, and that’s the truth of the matter.

Thanks for reading.

Notes:

  1. IATEFL2017 Outside in: bringing new technology perspectives to ELT

2. [http://www.languagetesting.com/how-long-does-it-take]

3. [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_artificial_intelligence]

4.Massive video

5. [https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2016/04/americans-like-their-libraries-but-they-use-them-less-and-less-pew/477336/]

#IATEFL2017 – Stopping the buck

The interviews with Andy Hockley 1 and Marek Kiczkowiak 2 discuss the issue of native speakerism –

a pervasive ideology within ELT, characterized by the belief that ‘native-speaker’ teachers represent a ‘Western culture’ from which spring the ideals both of the English language and of English language teaching methodology3.

Marek Kiczkowiak who campaigns on this via TeflEquity Advocates 4 responded to the interviewer’s question of the reception of his pre-conference talk to academic managers and directors of studies (DOS’s):

Most of those DOS’s that came here today are very supportive of non-native speakers, they are interested in equal opportunities but they do find that very often that their hands are tied. Because sometimes the way agents sell the courses to the students who then come to the UK to their school is very different to what their school offers. The school offers a very diverse staffroom but the way the agents have sold the course is that they will have the class with your typical white western looking native speaker.” (my emphasis)

I was surprised that Marek accepted what he has called in the past the TEFL blame game 5 – native speakerism is due to market demand, what students and parents want. If we look at the issue of agents we could point out that a lot of the major schools have an agent procedure. So these big schools could apply positive pressure to what their agents sell. Similarly the British Council who accredit language schools can also play a big part, since agents often only work with BC accredited schools.

The systemic bias that is evident in the current setup of ELT has to be examined alongside the individual bias. Some glimpses of this systemic or structural bias are seen in the interview with Andy Hockley. Initially individual biases are mentioned, for example:

hire ethically, don’t have biases
people who come to this conference are not among the most biased
the majority of those who come to the conference are converted let’s call it
in smaller schools, in smaller places there is this unconscious bias that native speakers are better than non-native speakers

Andy Hockley then mentions his research on academic managers where “increasingly educational organizations are merging, are becoming bigger and more corporate”. Managers complain “they have to do so much corporate number stuff, kpi’s and all these things, they don’t have time to focus on education”.

KPIs are organizational metrics called key performance indicators, which have been critiqued as performativity i.e. “indicators of quality that are taken as definitions of quality”. 6 Andy makes this point when he says “people read data with their own biases in the first place so the data is not really relevant” and “I don’t think, at least so far, that the data is telling us much about what is going on in the classroom”.

Here the organizational reasons, the managers who talked to Andy gave, show the nature of the challenge for TEFL Equity Advocates and other groups such as TaWSIG 7 to organize for fairer and more equitable working conditions.

So let’s stop passing the buck and start hitting it.

References:

  1. IATEFL 2017 Andy Hockley interview:

2. IATEFL 2017 Marek Kiczkowiak interview:

3. Holliday, A. (2006). Native-speakerism. ELT journal, 60(4), 385-387. [https://academic.oup.com/eltj/article/60/4/385/499514/Native-speakerism]

4. TEFL Equity Advocates [https://teflreflections.wordpress.com/]

5. The TEFL blame game continued [https://teflreflections.wordpress.com/2015/02/21/the-tefl-blame-game-continued/]

6. Biesta, G. (2015). Education, Measurement and the Professions: Reclaiming a space for democratic professionality in education. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 1-16. [http://bura.brunel.ac.uk/handle/2438/11141]

7. TaWSIG [http://teachersasworkers.org]

#IATEFL 2017 – Corpus related talks and posters

The razzledazzle that is IATEFL is approaching soon. So here is a list of talks and posters related to corpora that is listed on the conference programme (pdf). I hope we get some good tweeters for these and some recordings.

Tuesday 4 April
A beginner’s guide to creating vocabulary lists with corpus software
Michael Jones (Saudi Aramco)
Using a practical example, this teacher-focused talk aims to demystify the use of corpus linguistics to make effective vocabulary choices. Attendees will be shown how easy it is, even for neophytes, to use the free AntConc corpus analysis software to compile context-specific custom corpora and keyword lists. Those teaching ESP or business English will find the talk particularly useful.

Student-built corpora: do students see the benefit?
Catherine Prewett-Schrempf & Matthew Urmston (Vienna University of
Applied Sciences for Management & Communication)
How are corpora language activities perceived by students? I will present an action research project aimed at examining student response to using corpora for a writing assignment. The context is a first-semester Business English course at the Vienna University of Applied Sciences, where students draw on both a learner corpus and an expert corpus to self-correct their work.

FUSE – The Finnish Upper Secondary School Corpus of Spoken English
Lasse Ehrnrooth (Alppila Upper Secondary School)
This poster looks at the linguistic features present in the current version of FUSE, the Finnish Upper Secondary School Corpus of Spoken English. The speech corpus consists of transcribed dialogues recorded during various, official, spoken English examinations in Finnish upper secondary schools. The research focus will be on hesitation markers and overlapping speech.

Wednesday 5 April
Lexis and exam preparation: fitting the pieces into the puzzle
Sharon Hartle (University of Verona, Language Centre)
One aspect of use of English that upper intermediate and advanced learners find particularly challenging is lexical grammar: collocation, verb patterns, etc., and how to use them effectively. This presentation shows how to train learners to use two corpora – the American Corpus (COCA) and SkeLL (Sketch Engine for English Language Learning) – to improve awareness of lexis for exam preparation purposes.

Corpora and business English: developing learners’ collocational competence
Radwa Younis (Future University in Egypt)
This workshop is going to highlight the potential of using corpora to teach collocation in business English. We will define collocation and shed light on its peculiar aspects that present challenges to learners. The workshop will suggest some corpus-based activities to assist learners in developing a repertoire of business English collocations.

Strategies for speaking tests: corpus-based tips for preparing students
Gemma Bellhouse & Alex Thorp (Trinity College, London)
Learners of English must often take an interactive speaking test to prove they can communicate effectively. But how can students prepare for unpredictable communication? Are there strategies used by test candidates, and could learning them make speaking performance more successful? Using new corpus data, this
talk outlines ‘active listening’ strategies to support test preparation and awareness of communicative competence.

Thursday 6 April
A corpus study of teacher talk in the EFL classroom
Eric Nicaise (Universite Catholique Louvain / Haute Ecole Louvain-en- Hainaut)
The talk will present CONNEcT, an acronym for A Corpus of Native and Non-native EFL Classroom Teacher Talk. CONNEcT constituted the main source of data for my doctoral thesis. It consists of transcripts of native and non-native English lesson audio-recordings carried out in secondary education. The talk will mainly focus on some of the corpus findings and suggestions for applications.

Linking adverbials and transition markers in trainee teachers’ language usage
Odette Vassallo (University of Malta)
Linking adverbials and transition markers is an essential part of discourse cohesion. These features help to ensure clarity of communication in classroom teacher talk. This talk discusses the findings of a corpus-based study focussing on the patterns of language usage of trainee teachers. It offers some initial thoughts on the implications of the study’s findings for teacher education and development.