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Kenneth Beare

Using a Corpus to Improve your Vocabulary

By February 9, 2013

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What is a corpus? A corpus is a large collection of English texts - literally millions of words - that statistically compares how a language is used. Corpora (the plural of corpus) are used to find out which words go together. These words are known as collocations. These are great tools for language teachers, but can admittedly be a bit much for English learners. An alternate to using corpora is using the automatic suggestions made by Google for learning words that go together. While these results are not always the most common phrases, they often reflect the typical phrases that are used in searches by native speakers. These phrases are referred to as chunks, and learning language through chunking is a great way to improve fluency.


February 9, 2013 at 10:33 pm
(1) Eliana says:

thank you!!

February 11, 2013 at 12:47 pm
(2) Rebecca Smith says:

Mr. Beare, 1st let me say your articles on chunking & collocation are great. Wonderful advice & help. Its helping me learn Swedish as a 2nd language.

However, I think you should remove the advice on using Google suggestions to find words that go together. Someone who needs to learn English for immigration purposes, may well end up more confused & waste a lot of time. The suggestions are often bizarre, make no sense, or are just an ‘opposite’ of what is typed or the program changes a descriptive word (gay rainbow – ‘did you mean: happy rainbow?’) I know you are just talking about the word search box and how suggestions come up as you type, but people will see the ‘Did you mean’ suggestion too.

Search box ‘auto fill’ is based on google search history, sometimes the most common but also random crap bored people type; on phrases in blogs or articles written by ‘anybody’ & so include misspellings, incorrectly worded expressions, bad grammar colloquialisms that are ethnically, regionally, or single group related that COULD do more harm than good & worst of all: innocent sounding or common expressions, words or names that are used by certain elements for criminal, drug related or sexually deviant purposes.

Just my two cents.

February 19, 2013 at 12:24 am
(3) Marie says:

Thanks for the nice post.I am learning English.I enjoy learning English language that too with videos http://youtu.be/cOKde_7ZLUM

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