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Pragmatic Annotation of an Academic Spoken Corpus for Pedagogical Purposes

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Chapter Summary

The Michigan Corpus of Academic Spoken English (MICASE) has quickly become a valuable pedagogical resource, inspiring a new approach to the creation of teaching materials. In addition to, and perhaps more novel than, materials relating to lexis and grammar, the transcripts in the corpus offer a wealth of authentic examples of interactional and pragmatic phenomena that ESL teachers otherwise find very difficult to obtain. However, as the corpus currently exists, the transcripts must be searched manually for these kinds of discourse features. The present project reports on ongoing efforts to annotate the corpus in order to make pragmatic information more readily accessible, thereby enhancing the value of the corpus for teachers. First, for each speech event, brief informative abstracts have been compiled, summarizing content and describing salient discourse features. Secondly, additional metadata has been encoded in the headers of the transcripts which describes the relative frequency of 25 pragmatic features, including features involving classroom management (e.g., assigning homework), discourse style and lexis (e.g., humor, technical vocabulary), interactivity (e.g., student and teacher questions, group work), and content (e.g., defining or glossing terms,and narratives). Finally, a representative subcorpus of fifty transcripts has been manually tagged for 12 of the 25 pragmatic features (e.g., advice, disagreement) and will be computer searchable in the near future. In this paper, we describe this pragmatic annotation, including an overview of the features we decided to tag, and discuss benefits and limitations of the annotation scheme. We consider some pedagogical applications that utilize this additional mark-up and argue that despite the limitations and labor-intensive nature of this type of pragmatic mark-up, these innovative enhancements will be of value to both teachers and researchers.



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