TESOL Convention 2015: ‘Building bridges between online corpora and grammar textbooks’ by Ashley Hew

One of the sessions I attended on Thursday morning after the one on apps and websites for teaching pronunciation, which I described here, was about teaching grammar in EAP settings using academic corpora.

In the workshop we looked at how Michigan Corpus, or the MICUSP, can be used in EAP classes to teach grammar. MICUSP consists only of academic essays written by students at the university of Michigan. Usually there are senior or graduate students and their work has been selected based on their academic achievements. The samples contain both native and non-native English speakers work.

micusp

If we compare it to COCA then, the samples are much more limited (i.e. only students work). However, when teaching university students, this might prove to be an advantage since the answers we get will be much more focused and relevant to the students context. MICUSP is also much less complicated to use, especially for students. While MICUSP is only written English, its equivalent of spoken English is MICASE and can be found here. They’re both free to use.

All the activities that Ashley showed us during the session can be found on her blog here.

Some of the questions you might want to ask yourself when preparing activities using MICUSP are:

  • do the samples fit the grammar explanation in the book?
  • dos sts need pre-teaching vocabulary?
  • should I pre-teach any cultural references?
  • should I focus on a particular discipline (e.g. engineering) or have a wider sample?

You can narrow down the search by discipline, NS/NNS, paper type, level, textual features and student level.

Let me and Ashley know if you use any of the activities on her blog or create your own using MICUSP.

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