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A novel, web-based, parallel concordancer for use in the ESL/EFL classroom

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Chapter Summary

To date, the use of parallel concordancers in the classroom has been a largely unexplored area. As a result, there are few guidelines on the design of these tools or the functions they should offer. Also, the number of fully-developed parallel concordance tools is surprisingly few, and most of these are designed for use by corpus linguists and translators. In this paper, we describe a novel, web-based, parallel concordancer designed specifically for use by beginner-level second and foreign language learners of English. The software is built using standard web application tools, such as Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP, and thus can run in most university server environments. It is also designed on a similar architecture to the Google search engine, allowing it to work comfortably on very large corpora of hundreds of millions of words. To enable the smooth processing of both English and non-English texts, the concordancer is built to Unicode standards. Its internal token definition settings also employ Unicode character classes meaning that no cumbersome user-defined settings are necessary. Preliminary results show that the new software is considerably faster and easier to use than standard desktop parallel concordance programs. Also, because the tool is web-based, it can be accessed outside of class time, thus allowing students more time for hypothesis-verification and production activities.



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