A Master of Arts thesis in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) by Shireen Palmer Baghestani entitled, "Addressing Language Errors in L2 Students' Writing: Can Corpora Help," submitted in June 2011. Available are both hard and soft copies of the thesis.
Direct corpus consultation by learners has been recognized as a means of helping students speak and write standard English by allowing them to look up real world language usage. However, factors such as students' language proficiency, learning style, and age, in addition to the amount of training students receive in corpus analysis, can impact how effectively they are able to learn from a corpus. The present study therefore aims to determine whether, with minimal training, undergraduate students at the American University of Sharjah are able to benefit from corpus consultation and what attitudes they hold towards it. This study also aims to examine whether students at higher levels benefit more from corpus analysis than students at lower levels. The subjects of the study included two sets of students: freshmen enrolled in a basic writing course, and juniors and seniors enrolled in an advanced writing course. The corpus chosen for the study was The Corpus of Contemporary American English (Davies 2008-), the largest, freely available corpus of English on the internet to date. The findings from this study suggest that students can benefit from direct corpus consultation and that a high proportion of students found the corpus useful. No significant differences were found between Writing 001 and English 207 students in terms of their ability to use the corpus and their attitudes towards it. Therefore, it is recommended that writing teachers at AUS, from the most basic levels to the most advanced, consider adding a corpus component to their classes. Regarding the sufficiency of the training, the results indicate that a large proportion of students would appreciate more training. By the same token, however, the two class periods' worth of training offered was enough to enable students to make many successful corrections to their papers. In order to appeal to students' desire for more training, it is recommended that teachers intersperse corpus activities throughout the semester.