Developing a learner's corpus: The case of a first-year module in mathematics

Van Walt C.D. ; Fourie H. (2005)


A learner's corpus is a body of writing for use by a student whose first language is not (in this case) English to improve his/her use of (in this case) academic scientific terminology. In this case study, a learner's corpus was developed for a first-year mathematics module for students in the biological sciences. Lecturers struggle with big classes and a fairly high failure rate which they have addressed in a variety of ways. The learner's corpus is one of an array of support mechanisms built into the teaching-learning process and aims to support the development of academic literacy in this module in particular. In the process of developing and refining this learner's corpus it was compared to Coxhead's Academic Word List to determine whether a general academic word list may not include enough terms to render tailor-made learner's corpora unnecessary. The study concludes that the most frequent terms used in this module either do not appear in the Academic Word List or have such a specialised meaning that general academic support on the basis of the word list would probably not be very useful for students.

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