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Second language acquisition theory and learner corpus research

Myles, F (2015) 'Second language acquisition theory and learner corpus research.' In: UNSPECIFIED, (ed.) The Cambridge Handbook of Learner Corpus Research. UNSPECIFIED, 309 - 332. ISBN 9781107041196

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This chapter examines the relationship between second language acquisition (SLA) research and learner corpus research (LCR). It has the dual aim of examining the usefulness of learner corpora for second language acquisition research and of outlining the importance of SLA theory for the design and analysis of learner corpora. In the early stages of LCR, the focus was on description rather than interpretation. This focus has gradually shifted, however, and efforts have been made in the LCR community towards a better grounding in SLA theory (Granger 2012a). Despite such evolution, second language researchers have been rather slow in taking advantage of learner corpora and their associated computerised methodologies (Myles 2005), and LCR is not always fully informed by SLA research, making collaboration between the two fields sometimes more of a wish than a reality (Hasselgård 1999). The chapter will take stock of bidirectional moves (more LCR in SLA and more SLA theory in LCR) by providing a survey of some SLA studies informed by learner corpus data, and it will argue the theoretical and empirical case for the need for SLA research methodologies to move into the digital age and for LCR to take full account of developments in SLA theorising. Of central concern to both fields is the need for good learner data, as argued by SLA theorists and LC researchers alike: ‘It seems self-evident that one of the most precious resources in SLA research, alongside a clear conceptual framework, is a good quality dataset to work on’ (Myles and Mitchell 2004: 173). ‘There is nothing new in the idea of collecting learner data. Both FLT and SLA researchers have been collecting learner output for descriptive and/or theory building purposes since the disciplines emerged’ (Granger 2004: 123–4). Learner corpora seem to provide the ideal meeting ground to discuss the data needs of both fields. This chapter is written from the perspective of SLA theory. On the one hand, it considers why learner corpora are essential to advance and enhance our endeavours towards a better understanding of the nature of second language (L2) learner development and, on the other hand, it specifies what kind of corpora are needed if we are to bring answers to some of the current questions SLA theory is investigating, before providing illustrations from recent studies.

Item Type: Book Section
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Language and Linguistics, Department of
Depositing User: Users 161 not found.
Date Deposited: 07 May 2015 10:39
Last Modified: 07 Apr 2021 11:15

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