A corpus-based EAP course for NNS doctoral students: Moving from available specialized corpora to self-compiled corpora
This paper presents a discussion of an experimental, innovative course in corpus-informed EAP for doctoral students. Participants were given access to specialized corpora of academic writing and speaking, instructed in the tools of the trade (web- and PC-based concordancers) and gradually inducted into the skills needed to best exploit the data and the tools for directed learning as well as self-learning. After the induction period, participants began to compile two additional written corpora: one of their own writing (term papers, dissertation drafts, unedited journal drafts) and one of ‘expert’ writing, culled from electronic versions of published papers in their own field or subfield. Students were thus able to make comparisons between their own writing and those of more established writers in their field. At the end of the course, participants presented reports of their discoveries with some discussion of how they felt their rhetorical consciousness was raised and reflected on what further use they might be making of corpus linguistics techniques in their future careers. This paper gives an overview of how this course was structured, presents the kinds of discoursal and other linguistic phenomena examined and the sometimes surprising observations made, and reports on the pluses and minuses of this corpus-informed course as a whole, seen from the point of view of both learners and instructors.