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The Use of Corpus for Close Synonyms

Author(s): M. Naci KAYAOĞLU

Journal: Journal of Language and Linguistic Studies
ISSN 1305-578X

Volume: 9;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 128;
Date: 2013;
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Keywords: corpora | close synonyms | corpus of contemporary American English

Problem Statement: Using corpora is still in its infancy in foreign language classes in spite of its great benefits and potential to offer solutions to the various challenges in foreign language instruction both for teachers and learners. This partly stems from a lack of interest and practical knowledge about the pedagogic role that the corpora can play. There is a pressing need to convince teachers of the great benefits of corpora with empirical data.Purpose of Study: This research aims to explore the feasibility of using a corpus to help students differentiate between close synonyms which have similar meanings but cannot be substituted one for the other.Method: This is quasi-experimental research based on a pre and post-test (one shot design) design. To this end, participants were introduced to the Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA) and asked to refer to the corpus when deciding the appropriate close synonym in the 50 sentences given. Participants were also interviewed upon completion of the task with the COCA about their use of corpus.Findings and Results: The t-test showed that the use of corpus for deciding on close synonyms proved to be very effective as there was a statistically significant difference in participants‟ performance on the vocabulary portion of the pretest and post-test.Conclusion and Recommendations: The present paper suggests that corpora can be a very rich and effective source of empirical data both for teachers and students to make foreign language learning more meaningful and enjoyable. Providing learners more exposure to authentic examples, corpora can be utilized for pedagogic purposes from syllabus design to materials development. Yet, it needs to be integrated into language courses. Teachersshould be made fully aware of what corpora offer for language teaching.
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