Developing a Learner's Corpus: The Case of a First-year Module in Mathematics

Christa Van der Walt, Hanelle Fourie

Abstract


ABSTRACT: A learner's corpus is a body of writing for use by a student whose first language is not (in this case) English to improve his/her use of (in this case) academic scientific terminology. In this case study, a learner's corpus was developed for a first-year mathematics module for students in the biological sciences. Lecturers struggle with big classes and a fairly high failure rate which they have addressed in a variety of ways. The learner's corpus is one of an array of support mechanisms built into the teaching-learning process and aims to support the development of academic literacy in this module in particular. In the process of developing and refining this learner's corpus it was compared to Coxhead's Academic Word List to determine whether a gen-eral academic word list may not include enough terms to render tailor-made learner's corpora unnecessary. The study concludes that the most frequent terms used in this module either do not appear in the Academic Word List or have such a specialised meaning that general academic sup-port on the basis of the word list would probably not be very useful for students.

Keywords: LEARNER'S CORPUS, ACADEMIC WORD LIST, ACADEMIC LANGUAGE SUPPORT, MATHEMATICS WORD LIST, PEDAGOGIC APPLICATION OF CORPORA, CASE STUDY

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OPSOMMING: Die ontwikkeling van 'n leerderskorpus: Die geval van 'n eer-stejaarswiskundemodule. 'n Leerderskorpus is 'n versameling tekste vir gebruik deur 'n student wie se eerste taal nie (in hierdie geval) Engels is nie, om sy/haar gebruik van (in hierdie geval) akademiese wetenskaplike terminologie te verbeter. In hierdie gevallestudie is 'n leerders-korpus ontwikkel vir 'n eerstejaarswiskundemodule vir studente in die biologiese wetenskappe. Dosente sukkel met groot klasse en 'n redelik hoë druipsyfer, wat hulle op verskillende maniere benader het. Die leerderskorpus is een van 'n reeks ondersteuningsmeganismes wat in die onder-rig-leer-proses ingebou is en beoog om die ontwikkeling van akademiese geletterdheid spesifiek in hierdie module te ondersteun. Tydens die ontwikkeling en verfyning van die leerderskorpus is dit vergelyk met Coxhead se Academic Word List om vas te stel of hierdie woordelys nie genoeg terme insluit om maatpas leerderskorpusse oorbodig te maak nie. Die studie kom tot die gevolg-trekking dat die frekwentste terme wat in hierdie module gebruik word óf nie in die Academic Word List voorkom nie óf so 'n gespesialiseerde betekenis het dat algemene akademiese hulp op grond van die woordelys waarskynlik nie vir studente baie nuttig sal wees nie.

Sleutelwoorde: LEERDERSKORPUS, AKADEMIESE WOORDELYS, AKADEMIESE TAAL-HULP, WISKUNDEWOORDELYS, OPVOEDKUNDIGE TOEPASSING VAN KORPUSSE, GE-VALLESTUDIE


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5788/15-0-15

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ISSN 2224-0039 (online); ISSN 1684-4904 (print)

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