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TALC: Pre-conference Workshops

Using corpora to teach sociolinguistics: A practical workshop

Workshop leaders

Vaclav Brezina is a lecturer at the Department of Linguistics and English Language, Lancaster University. His research interests are in the areas of applied linguistics, corpus design and methodology, and statistics. He also designed a number of different tools for corpus analysis such as #LancsBox, BNClab, BNC64, LancsLex and Lancaster statistical tool.

Dana Gablasova is a lecturer at the Department of Linguistics and English Language, Lancaster University. Her research interests include corpus-based studies of language learning and language use, formulaic language, vocabulary and written and spoken production in L1 and L2. Her research appeared in journals such as Applied Linguistics, The Modern Language Journal, Language Learning and English for Specific Purposes. She is the co-author of the New General Service List which was published in Applied Linguistics.

Irene Marín Cervantes is currently a PhD researcher in the Department of Linguistics and English Language at Lancaster University. Her main field of research is the application of corpus linguistics to the study of L2 spoken production, particularly multi-word units and their development in L2


Teaching sociolinguistics both in the L1 and the L2 contexts presents a challenge. It involves pedagogical considerations about how to best draw students’ attention to the fact of linguistic variation (cf. Meyerhoff 2011; Brezina & Meyerhoff 2014) as well as practical concerns such as finding resources (data, teaching materials etc.) suitable for classroom use. At the same time, sociolinguistic awareness and competence are becoming increasingly important both in L1 (e.g. A level English Language, AQA 2014) and L2 contexts (e.g. Geeslin & Long 2014; Sung 2016). This workshop offers a discussion of the role of sociolinguistics in the classroom as well as practical examples of corpus tools and materials designed to help analyse and teach about language variation. The following topics will be covered:

• Discussing language variation in the classroom
• Presenting and visualising corpus data
• Useful corpus tools
• The Spoken BNC 1994 and 2014 and other corpora of contemporary British English
• Creating teaching materials

The workshop will be of interest to both researchers and practitioners.The participants will be introduced to corpus tools such as #LancsBox and BNC Lab, both recently developed at Lancaster University, which allow efficient exploration of corpora in the classroom. The workshop will offer an introduction to new data analysis and visualisation techniques, which the participants will be able to apply in their specific educational contexts. The workshop will also focus on the development of corpus-based teaching materials – multiple practical examples of effective teaching materials will be provided.

Will the workshop participants need to bring their own devices?

Yes. Participants will need to bring their own laptops. The computers need to be able to download and run java programs such as #LancsBox


AQA (2014). AS and A-level English Language.

Brezina, V., & Meyerhoff, M. (2014). Significant or random. A critical review of sociolinguistic generalisations based on large corpora. International Journal of Corpus Linguistics, 19(1), 1-28.

Geeslin, K. L., & Long, A. Y. (2014). Sociolinguistics and second language acquisition: Learning to use language in context. Routledge.

Meyerhoff, M. (2011). Introducing sociolinguistics. London: Routledge.

Sung, C. C. M. (2016). Exposure to multiple accents of English in the English Language Teaching classroom: from second language learners' perspectives. Innovation in Language Learning and Teaching, 10(3), 190-205.