What corpus-linguistics can contribute to second language acquisition research
There is wide agreement in the second language acquisition research community across all contemporary theoretical foci that second language learning is an inherently complex process: a multitude of language-internal and –external factors jointly characterize the initial state, the developmental route, the speed of advancement, and the ultimate attainment of second language learning, and they do so to varying extents at different stages of proficiency. In recognition of this complexity, and given the advantage of rapidly advancing computer and experimental technology, researchers are turning to correspondingly sophisticated methods to elicit data, statistically evaluate them, and create models predicting second language learning. In this talk, I aim to advocate specifically for the inclusion of corpus-linguistic analyses into the second language researcher’s expanding methodological toolbox. I will give an overview of recent studies that employ sophisticated methods to illustrate how learner corpus research can complement experimental methods in the investigation of some of the hottest issues in second language acquisition research, such as appropriate characterizations of the input; adequate modeling of the highly L1-specific nature of learner language development; and even the increasingly recognized role of individual variation in the acquisition process. I close with a critical discussion of limitations of corpus-based approaches to second language acquisition and desiderata for future research.
Stefanie Wulff is an Assistant Professor in the Linguistics Department at the University of Florida. Her research interests are in the areas of learner corpus research and academic writing development. She is the author of Rethinking idiomaticity: A Usage-based approach (2008, Continuum Press) and over thirty articles and contributions to edited volumes. Stefanie is co-editor of the Cognitive Linguistics in Practice textbook series (John Benjamins) and editor-in-chief of Corpus Linguistics and Linguistic Theory (De Gruyter Mouton).