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An investigation of students' experiences with corpus technology in second language academic writing

, The Ohio State University, United States

The Ohio State University . Awarded


An increasing number of recent studies have applied the insights and methodologies of corpus linguistics to second language (L2) writing pedagogy and research. These studies have generated a highly theoretical understanding of corpus use in L2 writing, but still leave gaps about the practical application for L2 writing teachers. This study examined the quality of students' writing experiences with corpus use, how it affects their development of L2 competence, and most importantly, how corpus technology can be integrated into L2 writing instruction. The research site of the study was a graduate level ESL academic writing course at a large midwestern American university. Six students participated in an in-depth case study to provide rich descriptions of corpus pedagogy in L2 writing. This qualitative research involved a wide array of ethnographic techniques, including: classroom observations, open-ended interviews, multiple case studies, and a grounded survey.

The findings revealed that corpora served as a meaningful reference for language input by providing students with common usage and collocation patterns. More importantly, corpus use seemed to have an immediate effect by helping them to solve immediate writing/language problems, and also to develop potentially longer-term, cognitive skills by promoting their perceptions of lexico-grammar and language awareness. A significant finding is that the corpus experience seemed to promote independent learning (i.e., students took more responsibility for their own writing). As the corpus approach was introduced and linked to the writing process, the students became more independent writers through increased access to linguistic resources. By doing so, they approached L2 writing with more ease, and their overall confidence in writing increased.

This study identified a wide variety of individual experiences and learning contexts that were involved in deciding the levels of the students' willingness and success in using corpora. The findings suggest that writing teachers who attempt to incorporate the corpus linguistics approach into their instruction need to understand the multi-faceted aspects of technology use that could facilitate or impede the individual student's L2 writing.


Yoon, H. An investigation of students' experiences with corpus technology in second language academic writing. Ph.D. thesis, The Ohio State University. Retrieved May 20, 2019 from .

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