Sunday saw the second day of the Blended Learning course, and it was also the day on which I ran a session on Concordancers.

Sunday saw the second day of the Blended Learning course, and it was also the day on which I ran a session on Concordancers. It is curious that whenever I run a training session on technology, and ask teachers to identify areas that they are not familiar with, concordancers come up consistently an area which is largely unknown. Some practising teachers do not know where the stress is in the word, unsurprising if it is unknown to them. I write ‘curious’, because Michael Lewis, author of the Lexical Approach, maintains that the study of language through concordancers, and the identification of collocations and word frequency, is an event of massive importance in language teaching and learning. At last, we can know how language is used, through studying written and spoken corpora. We all use coursebooks whose authors have all used concordancers to verify authentic uses of language. When I first started at Warwick University, one lecturer said: datas. I thought this word was uncountable! Does it exist, in an EAP (English for Academic purposes) context? This is a good example of when searching for a term in a concordancer is a useful activity. Students can look at examples of language they are getting wrong – such as ‘persons’ and ‘people’, and draw conclusions about usage. You (or students) can do a trial search of the British National Corpus at http://www.natcorp.ox.ac.uk/ For the hands-on part of the training session, I subscribed to a site called Sketch Engine on a 30-day free trial. http://www.sketchengine.co.uk/ This was recommended to me by lexicographer Michael Rundell, who said it was a vital tool in creating the Macmillan English Dictionary. I am looking forward to exploring it! While some believe the world of corpus linguistics is dry and dusty, it is actually strangely fascinating!