How can native speaker corpora be used in the classroom in a skills-based approach to teaching English?

Monika Sobejko


Corpora are essentially electronically stored files of carefully selected samples of either spoken or written language, or a mixture of both. Using them to teach English is like going on a voyage, a voyage of discovery in which students play the role of ‘language researchers’; this can be very motivating for them but time-consuming for teachers. Corpus data are relatively easy to access: they are literally a click of a mouse away and can frequently be used as raw data (print-outs of lines from a concordance can be brought to class or students can be asked to access a corpus and analyse the data on their own). However, teachers need to make a selection of what they want to present or have analysed, and they must also provide clear instructions or guiding questions for their students.
I would like to share a few tips that I hope will be useful to anyone who feels the need for supplementary materials for their course books. Language corpora are an excellent source of teaching materials and can be used to teach the four language skills as well as grammar and vocabulary (see O’Keeffe, McCarthy and Carter 2007). The article suggests several ways of using corpora to teach the skills of speaking, listening, reading and writing.


Carter R., McCarthy M., 2006. Cambridge Grammar of English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

O’Keeffe A., McCarthy M., Carter R., 2007. From corpus to classroom. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Simpson R.C., Briggs S.L., Ovens J., Swales J.M., 2002. The Michigan Corpus of Academic Spoken English. Ann Arbor, MI: The Regents of the University of Michigan.

McCarthy M., O’Keeffe A., Walsh S., 2009. An Introduction to Corpora in English Language Teaching. [ELT Advantage online course, accessed at October, 21 – December, 12, 2009].

Wales J., interview by G. Mitchell, Digital Planet, BBC [Originally aired on November 11, 2009].

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Pierwotną formą czasopisma jest wersja elektroniczna.