Nicole Schmidt Abstracts

Nicole Schmidt

Ph.D. Candidate

Second Language Acquisition and Teaching


The Symposium on Second Language Writing

Tempe, AZ

November 13-16, 2019


When implemented skillfully, corpus technology holds the potential to weave together vocabulary, grammar, and discourse into L2 writing pedagogy (Yoon, 2008). However, teachers face significant challenges using corpus data in the classroom, and these challenges often go unaddressed in teacher education programs. In a recent critique of corpus-based teacher training methods, Lenko-Szymanska (2017) argued for the development of a new model which encompasses three main facets of corpus-based pedagogy: technical skills, knowledge of corpus linguistics, and pedagogical skills. The Technology, Pedagogy, and Content Knowledge (TPACK) model (Mishra & Koehler, 2005; 2006) provides a situated, empirically validated framework of teacher knowledge that explains each of the three areas proposed by LenkoSzymanska.  The current study investigates whether the TPACK framework would be useful for training teachers to apply direct corpus approaches in the second language writing (SLW) classroom. The proposed presentation outlines the development, administration, and revision of a seven module online corpus pedagogy workshop series which adopts a situated approach to teacher education that facilitates the development and implementation of corpus based classroom activities. Each of the seven modules of the workshop series cultivates a different knowledge domain of TPACK. The presenter will discuss the steps and theory involved in the creation of this corpus-based workshop series and how this approach directly supports language teachers who seek to use corpora in their classrooms. She will also showcase some of the preliminary results obtained from teachers who participated in the workshop series. These results, comprised of teachers' reflective commentary and teacher developed corpus-based activities, will offer insight into the usefulness of TPACK as a professional development model for integrating new and complex technologies, like corpus linguistics, into the second language writing classroom.


Abstract for Lay Audience

Before digital technology, large-scale text analysis research was painstaking and labor intensive work. Linguists pursuing these methods would spend inordinate amounts of time scouring volumes of text for patterns in language use. It was generally not feasible, for example, to statistically analyze how frequently certain words were used across millions of pages of text. Now that we have software programs that can scan large volumes of text and analyze patterns of language use in mere seconds, we are able to learn much more deeply how language works.  A corpus, or a searchable database of naturally occurring language (i.e., language used in television scripts, newspaper articles, published essays, and classroom assignments), can tell us how words combine with other words in statistically significant ways and how language is used in different text types. Corpus research exposes relationships between languages (like Spanish and Portuguese) and dialects (like British and Australian English), and it documents how languages change over time.  Corpora are also powerful tools for second language writers, or students who write academically in languages which are additional to their native language. Language learners can use corpora to examine how authentic language is constructed. This can help them learn what kind of language is appropriate in different social situations, like emailing professors, writing essays, or interacting on social media. Corpora use can also promote self-correction of grammatical errors, improve spelling, enhance understanding of how to organize a college paper, and broaden one’s academic vocabulary. If wielded properly, a corpus could be a valuable resource for second language writing teachers.  However, despite abundant research celebrating the benefits of corpora for language learners, corpus activities are not widely used by language teachers, often due to insufficient training which fails to show teachers how to blend knowledge of corpus linguistics, understanding of corpus technology, and theories of how to teach. There is one theoretical framework, called the Technological, Pedagogical, and Content Knowledge (TPACK) framework, which integrates those three kinds of knowledges. TPACK has been used for teacher development initiatives, mainly in the field of educational technology, but it has not yet been connected to corpus-based language teaching.  The current study integrates the TPACK framework into a professional development initiative for second language writing teachers. In this study, twelve teachers participated in two iterations of a seven week online workshop series, which I developed according to the TPACK framework. The workshop series guided teachers to design and use corpus activities in their own classrooms. Corpus activities created by these teachers and their reflective journal writings were analyzed to determine how their grasp of corpus-based teaching developed from the beginning to the end of the study. This study bridges the fields of second language acquisition, corpus linguistics, teacher cognition, and educational technology. While most corpus-based teaching studies focus on the effect of corpus activities on student learning, relatively little work has been done on the implementation of corpus-based teaching approaches. This study contributes to existing research by offering a new way to support teachers in using corpus technology in the classroom.

Last updated 15 Jan 2020