Learners’ writing skills in French: Corpus consultation and learner evaluation

O'Sullivan, Íde and Chambers, Angela (2006) Learners’ writing skills in French: Corpus consultation and learner evaluation. Journal of second language writing, 15 (1). 49–68.


While the use of corpora and concordancing in the language-learning environment began as early as 1969 (McEnery & Wilson, 1997, p. 12), it was the work in the 1980s of Tim Johns (1986) and others which brought it to public attention. Important developments occurred in the 1990s, beginning with publications advocating the use of corpora and concordancing in language teaching (Tribble & Jones, 1990). The first empirical study of learners’ consultation of corpus printouts (Stevens, 1991) was followed by studies of direct corpus consultation (Cobb, 1997), and more recently by studies of learners’ actual use of corpora in L2 writing (Gaskell & Cobb, 2004; Yoon & Hirvela, 2004).This study presents the second phase of a research project at the University of Limerick involving native speakers of English at both the masters and undergraduate level who are given the opportunity to engage in corpus consultation in order to improve their writing skills in French (see Chambers & O'Sullivan, 2004 for the first phase of this study). The aim is to investigate what type of changes they tend to make, to evaluate how effectively they complete this task, and to determine their reactions to this process. This is done with a view to discovering what similarities and differences exist between the two groups of learners in relation to their use of the corpus and their reaction to the process.

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