Date of Degree
PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Second Language Acquisition
James P. Pusack
The general aim of this study is to better understand aspects of using reference tools for writing and to identify technologies that can assist foreign language writers. The specific purpose of this study is to look closely at how English as a Second Language (ESL) students from Korea use a corpus as a reference tool in conjunction with dictionaries when paraphrasing English newspaper articles. The participants were Korean graduate students with advanced English proficiency (N=10). Their task was to paraphrase an English newspaper article.
The results show that purposes for using a concordancing program include collocations, definitions, context, and parts of speech. The subjects looked for a variety of information in a concordancing program, including prepositions, authentic samples, and the context in which the search terms were used. Reasons for using dictionaries include definitions, parts of speech, and sample sentences. The most common strategy was to combine reference tools, while the second most common was to use a specific search word. Subjects who used more than one tool for a search or performed multiple searches were more successful in finding what they were looking for.
A concordancing program enabled users to see multiple examples of everyday language use. By using the concordancing program, learners were able to see words that were used most frequently, their patterns, and collocations. Learners took more responsibility for their language learning, as they became researchers in their own right. They gained confidence as L2 writers as they had inside access to linguistic resources. The subjects became more independent and were able to solve their own writing and linguistic problems as they became more aware through the use of authentic texts. In this study, the subjects found the corpora to be useful for sentence-level composition and revision. Overall, the use of reference tools led to an improvement in the accuracy of writing. A concordancing program played an important role in defining the structure and context of English phrases and sentences.
Copyright 2006 Kyosung Koo
Koo, Kyosung. "Effects of using corpora and online reference tools on foreign language writing: a study of Korean learners of English as a second language." dissertation, University of Iowa, 2006.