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Anne O'Keeffe

Throwing the pigeon among the cats – Data-Driven Learning and the Second Language Acquisition Interface Debate

Anne O’Keeffe is a Senior Lecturer in Applied Linguistics at Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick. Her research output includes papers, chapters and books on Corpus Linguistics, Pragmatics and Media Discourse. These include Investigating Media Discourse (2006, Routledge), From Corpus to Classroom (2007, Cambridge University Press, with Michael McCarthy and Ronald Carter), English Grammar Today (2011, Cambridge University Press, with Ronald Carter, Michael McCarthy and Geraldine Mark), Introducing Pragmatics in Use (2011, Routledge, with Brian Clancy and Svenja Adolphs). She also co-edited the Routledhe Handbook of Corpus Linguistics (with Michael McCarthy). Her most recent research on the Cambridge Learner Corpus has led to the online resource, the English Grammar Profile (with Geraldine Mark). She has also guest edited a number of international journals, most recently Corpus Pragmatics and she is co-editor of two Routledge book series, Routledge Corpus Linguistic Guides and Routledge Applied Corpus Series.

Dr Anne O´Keeffe


Over the years, debate prevails in Second Language Acquisition studies as to whether there is any interface between explicit consciously learnt knowledge and implicit acquired tacit knowledge in language learning. Three overarching stances or ‘positions’ are taken: 1) No-interface position: those who hold that implicit, automatized acquisition only takes place at a sub-conscious level via comprehensible input and that there is no connection with explicit learning; 2) the Weak-interface position: those who see a degree of connection between implicit and explicit knowledge, under certain conditions; and 3) Strong-interface position: those who belief that explicit knowledge can become automatized and implicit.

On the surface at least, Data-Driven Learning (DDL) could be categorized as an explicit approach to learning, which within at least one of the aforementioned positions could be rendered futile. Alternatively, within a strong interface position, where explicit knowledge is seen to lead, at some stage, to automatization whereby the learnt forms can become part of the users’ long-term memory and fluent sub-conscious functionality, DDL has a strong case.

This keynote talk seeks to conceptually explore DDL in relation to this interface debate in SLA. It will examine practices within DDL in terms of what they demand cognitively of the learner and consider whether an awareness of the interface debate might enlighten how best to structure DDL processes, pedagogies and practices so as to augment the likelihood of interface between explicit and implicit knowledge.