The Prime Machine: a user-friendly corpus tool for English language teaching and self-tutoring based on the Lexical Priming theory of language

Jeaco, Stephen Mark
The Prime Machine: a user-friendly corpus tool for English language teaching and self-tutoring based on the Lexical Priming theory of language. PhD thesis, University of Liverpool.

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This thesis presents the design and evaluation of a new concordancer called The Prime Machine which has been developed as an English language learning and teaching tool. The software has been designed to provide learners with a multitude of examples from corpus texts and additional information about the contextual environment in which words and combinations of words tend to occur. The prevailing view of how language operates has been that grammar and lexis are separate systems and sentences can be constructed merely by choosing any syntactic structure and slotting in vocabulary. Over the last few decades, however, corpus linguistics has presented challenges to this view of language, drawing on evidence which can be found in the patterning of language choices in texts. Nevertheless, despite some reports of success from researchers in this area, only a limited number of teachers and learners of second language seem to make direct use of corpus software tools. The desire to develop a new corpus tool grew out of professional experience as an English language teacher and manager in China. This thesis begins by introducing some background information about the role of English in international higher education and the language learning context in China, and then goes on to describe the software architecture and the process by which corpus texts are transformed from their raw state into rows of data in a sophisticated database to be accessed by the concordancer. It then introduces innovations including several aspects of the search screen interface, the concordance line display and the use of collocation data. The software provides a rich learning platform for language learners to independently look up and compare similar words, different word forms, different collocations and the same words across two corpora. Underpinning the design is a view of language which draws on Michael Hoey's theory of Lexical Priming. The software is designed to make it possible to see tendencies of words and phrases which are not usually apparent in either dictionary examples or the output from other concordancing software. The design features are considered from a pedagogical perspective, focusing on English for Academic Purposes and including important software design principles from Computer Aided Language Learning. Through a small evaluation involving undergraduate students, the software has been shown to have great potential as a tool for the writing process. It is believed that The Prime Machine will be a very useful corpus tool which, while simple to operate, provides a wealth of information for English language teaching and self-tutoring.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: Date: 2015-06-24 (completed)
Subjects: ?? PE ??
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 30 Jul 2015 07:10
Last Modified: 16 Dec 2022 04:43
DOI: 10.17638/02014579