Plenary session by Michael Hoey

This plenary talk looks at the implications of a corpus linguistic theory for learning the English language.

About the session

Old approaches, new perspectives: the implications of a corpus linguistic theory for learning the English language

Two major figures in English Language Teaching are Michael Lewis and Stephen Krashen, but both have come under heavy criticism. I shall briefly describe the major claims of both as well as outlining some of the criticisms that have been levelled against them. I shall then seek to demonstrate that their claims are compatible with current corpus-linguistic research, which is itself supported by long-standing and robust psychological research. What corpus-linguistic and psychological studies in fact suggest is that we need a very different model of the way language is organised; Lexical Priming theory is an attempt to provide such a model of language. I shall describe the main claims of the theory and provide evidence for these claims. Finally, the talk will offer provisional evidence to support the view that Chinese has the same lexical properties as English. This is important because it suggests that my own work and that of Lewis and Krashen are as likely to be relevant to the learning and teaching of Chinese as they are to English. Perhaps more importantly, it also suggests that two apparently very different languages like Chinese and English are more alike in major ways than is usually assumed; this has important implications for the teaching of English, some of which will be discussed.

About the speaker

Michael Hoey is Baines Professor of English Language at the University of Liverpool, where he is currently also a Pro-Vice-Chancellor. He was responsible for the University's English language provision for overseas students between 1993 and 2003. He is Director of the Liverpool Confucius Institute. He is an academician of the Academy of Social Sciences and was for many years a member of the AQA's Education and Training Committee and Chair of their English Advisory Committee. As a linguist he has published in the fields of discourse analysis, applied linguistics, language teaching and corpus linguistics. One of his books won the Duke of Edinburgh English Speaking Union Award for best book in applied linguistics (1991) and another was shortlisted for the BAAL best book in applied linguistics (2005). He was chief consultant to Macmillan's Dictionaries, one of which also won a Duke of Edinburgh English Speaking Union Award. He has lectured in over 40 countries.

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