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A Case Study of Corpus-Informed Online Academic Writing for EFL Graduate Students

Issue: Vol 26 No. 1 (2009)

Journal: CALICO Journal

Subject Areas:

DOI: 10.1558/cj.v26i1.28-47


Research articles (RAs) have been recognized as a distinct genre in the English-using discourse community because of their unique writing conventions. Despite the great number of studies on the analysis of the textual or phrasal aspects of abstracts of RAs, few have been transformed into actual teaching materials for EFL graduate students. The purpose of this study is to extend the results of abstract analysis to the development of online course content for the explicit teaching of abstract writing in Applied Linguistics. Results of the comparison of patterns found in the corpora of 50 abstracts of RAs published in journals and 50 abstracts of papers given at conferences--written by novice, nonnative writers--to patterns in a learner corpus formed the core of the online course content, along with principles of L2 writing and CALL task design. An academic concordancer and a synchronous peer review tool were incorporated into the Moodle-based course. Formative evaluation of the unit on abstract writing was conducted with 35 students. The abstract-writing unit was then incorporated into an academic writing course in which the analysis of students' writing samples demonstrated some improvement in their writing. The study suggests that corpus-informed online instruction that includes learner corpus insights can facilitate EFL academic writing.

Author: Wen-Ming Hsieh, Hsien-Chin Liou

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