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Published on October 9, 2007

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Corpus Findings and EFL Teaching in Japan: Which Verbs Should be Taught First?:  Corpus Findings and EFL Teaching in Japan: Which Verbs Should be Taught First? Takeshi Okada Tohoku University Sendai, Japan IVACS2006 at Nottingham University June 23rd, 2006 Corpus Findings and EFL Teaching in Japan: Which Verbs Should be Taught First?:  Corpus Findings and EFL Teaching in Japan: Which Verbs Should be Taught First? Introduction Objectives in EFL Teaching in Japanese Junior High School Most Common Verbs in the LSWE Corpus: Their Conjugational Patterns in the BNC Most Common Verbs in the LSWE Corpus: Their Occurrences in Japanese Junior High School Textbooks Remarks on the Verb Tags in the BNC Conclusion 2. Objectives in EFL Teaching in Japanese Junior High School:  2. Objectives in EFL Teaching in Japanese Junior High School The Course of Study for Lower Secondary School (1998) by The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) Overall Objectives: To develop students' basic practical communication abilities such as listening and speaking, deepening the understanding of language and culture, and fostering a positive attitude toward communication through foreign languages.  vague 2. Objectives in EFL Teaching in Japanese Junior High School:  2. Objectives in EFL Teaching in Japanese Junior High School The Course of Study for Lower Secondary School (1998) Syllabus Design and Treatment of the Contents: (2) In regard to teaching materials, in order to cultivate practical English communication abilities, material that gives sufficient consideration to actual language-use situations and functions of language should be utilized.  2. Objectives in EFL Teaching in Japanese Junior High School:  2. Objectives in EFL Teaching in Japanese Junior High School The Course of Study for Lower Secondary School (1998) Syllabus Design and Treatment of the Contents: (1) c) ‘Language Elements’ should be graded in levels of difficulty, from easy to more difficult, according to the learning stage, and taught effectively, focusing on recognition in some cases and on production in other cases. 3. Most Common Verbs in the LSWE Corpus: Their Conjugational Patterns in the BNC:  3. Most Common Verbs in the LSWE Corpus: Their Conjugational Patterns in the BNC 4. Most Common Verbs in the LSWE Corpus: Their Occurrences in Japanese Junior High School Textbooks:  4. Most Common Verbs in the LSWE Corpus: Their Occurrences in Japanese Junior High School Textbooks lemma: say other than in VVD (in Year 1) 4. Most Common Verbs in the LSWE Corpus: Their Occurrences in Japanese Junior High School Textbooks:  4. Most Common Verbs in the LSWE Corpus: Their Occurrences in Japanese Junior High School Textbooks going_VVG (in Year 1) 4. Most Common Verbs in the LSWE Corpus: Their Occurrences in Japanese Junior High School Textbooks:  4. Most Common Verbs in the LSWE Corpus: Their Occurrences in Japanese Junior High School Textbooks lemma: come other than in VVD (in Year 1) 4. Most Common Verbs in the LSWE Corpus: Their Occurrences in Japanese Junior High School Textbooks:  4. Most Common Verbs in the LSWE Corpus: Their Occurrences in Japanese Junior High School Textbooks lemma: go other than in VVG (in Year 1) 4. Most Common Verbs in the LSWE Corpus: Their Occurrences in Japanese Junior High School Textbooks:  4. Most Common Verbs in the LSWE Corpus: Their Occurrences in Japanese Junior High School Textbooks lemma: give other than in VVN 4. Most Common Verbs in the LSWE Corpus: Their Occurrences in Japanese Junior High School Textbooks:  4. Most Common Verbs in the LSWE Corpus: Their Occurrences in Japanese Junior High School Textbooks given_VVN present perfective passive? phrasal verb 4. Most Common Verbs in the LSWE Corpus: :  4. Most Common Verbs in the LSWE Corpus: 5. Remarks on the Verb Tags in the BNC:  5. Remarks on the Verb Tags in the BNC The POS tag VVI is like the Rhesus factor (RH factor), a method of classifying blood types. The two most important classifications to describe human blood types are ABO and the Rhesus factor. Over 99.4% of Japanese people have RH factor (RH+). 83.6% of British people have RH factor (RH+). (There is always an exception: only 67% of Basque people have RH factor. ) Like the Rhesus factor, VVI is not an eligible criterion to classify English verb types: it only tells that the lexical verb in question is Tenseless (infinitive). The table shows that ten out of twelve (83.3%) common verbs have the VVI factor. If we erase red and pink on the VVI ratio line, in other words if we ignore the VVI factor in describing English verb types, there arises a new possibility of classification. 5. Remarks on the Verb Tags in the BNC:  5. Remarks on the Verb Tags in the BNC 5. Remarks on the Verb Tags in the BNC:  5. Remarks on the Verb Tags in the BNC VVI as a RH factor 5. Remarks on the Verb Tags in the BNC:  5. Remarks on the Verb Tags in the BNC The contrast between the Spoken and Written parts of the BNC SPOKEN eight out of twelve (66.7%) verbs appear in their VVB (the finite base) form. 81.22% of mean, 63.78% of know, 56.38% of think appear in VVB form. WRITTEN four out of twelve (33.3%) verbs appear in their VVN (the past participle) form. get is frequently used in its VVN form in the SPOKEN parts. mean is conspicuously used in its VVZ (-s) form. ☆say is used in its VVD (the past tense) form         both in the SPOKEN and WRITTEN parts. ☆go is used in its VVG (-ing) form         both in the SPOKEN and WRITTEN parts. 5. Remarks on the Verb Tags in the BNC :  5. Remarks on the Verb Tags in the BNC The contrast between the Spoken and Written parts of the BNC: Ranking of Conjugational Preference 6. Conclusion:  6. Conclusion Japanese EFL textbooks (for Junior high school) should be more ‘authentic’, i.e. should incorporate a larger amount of empirical findings from corpus studies. In order to ‘give sufficient consideration to actual language-use situations’ (MEXT), teaching materials, especially verbs, should be arranged in a way that reflects their ‘actual usage’ in the language: frequent conjugation of a given verb should be taught at an earlier stage. The idea of presenting ‘grammatical elements’ in accordance with the school years should be modified: Japanese EFL learners need to be exposed to the common, frequent elements at an earlier stage. There is a possibility of establishing a new, statistically significant set of verb POS tags which signals the sentential, grammatical information in more systematic fashion: more authentic EFL materials in which common verbs appear in a more appropriate order can be made with reference to the new verb tags. References :  References Biber, D., Conrad, S. and Reppen, R. Corpus Linguistics: Investigating Language Structure and Use, Cambridge University Press, 1998. -----, Johansson, S., Leech, G., Conrad, S., and Finegan, E. Longman Grammar of Spoken and Written English, Longman, 1999. ----- and Reppen, R. “What Does Frequency Have to do with Grammar Teaching?” Studies in Second Language Acquisition: Vol. 24, No. 2, pp.199-208, 2002. Burnard, Lou. (ed.) Reference Guide for the British National Corpus (World Edition), (provided as http://www.natcorp.ox.ac.uk/docs/userManual/urg.pdf), 2000. Römer, U. “Comparing Real and Ideal Language Learner Input: The Use of an EFL Textbook corpus in Corpus Linguistics and Language Teaching,” in Aston, G., Bernardini, S. and Stewart, D. (eds.) Corpora and Language Learners, pp.151-168, 2004.

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