Concordance & collocation resources

Concordance/collocation websites | Jake Kimball | October 24th, 2001

Hi again. One more query on websites:

Does anyone know of sites that offer free concordances?

In addition, do any of you know of any other resources you'd like to pass on or perhaps describe your experiences using collocations with your classes?


Re: Concordance resources | Jay Graham | October 24th, 2001

Hey Jake ...and everyone else. Sachiko gave me some these sources for concordances and I hope they help. Good luck dude!!

Jay Graham


Dear Jay and fellow participants:

Here is a list of useful concordance references.

As I attended Sue Wright's workshop at the British Council in Nagoya, Japan, I found some participants were interested in using concordances in classroom particularly for beginner-level students (eg junior high school students) and looking for some examples of actual use.

From my own experience, if the corpus you choose to use is a compilation of authentic language sources, I think concordance-based vocabulary activities are more suitable for advanced students, and you know the reason.

But if you choose sources written or spoken for young children, then I believe concordances will benefit young learners too. Furthermore, you can do activities without using a computer as Jane Willis writes in Tomlinson.

I think concordance activities are effective for any levels of learners since the purpose is to raise awareness and sensitivity to lexical features (collocations, multi-word chunks, fixed expressions, etc) that are actually used. But I had to be very careful not to demand too much from learners. Concordances, after all, are the data, raw data. What they reveal is a tendency, not a universal conclusion. I think that teachers (non-natives, including myself) need to cultivate lexical sensitivity.

I would very much like to know how native-speaker teachers deal with confusing lexical combinations or loosely fixed collocations. Can you automatically choose the correct one?

Sachiko Nakamura

Bibliography of Concordance, Collocation, Corpus and Vocabulary related books:

Aarts, J (1991) Intuition-Based and Observation-Based Grammars, In Aijmer, K and B Altenberg (eds), English Corpus Linguistics London:Longman.

Bahns, J (1993) Lexical collocations: a contrastive view, ELT Journal 47(1), 56-63.

Barlow, M (1992) Using Concordance Software in Language Teaching and Research, In Shinjo, W et al Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Foreign Language Education and Barlow, M (1995)

ParaConc: A Concordancer for Parallel Texts, Computers and Texts, 10. (CTI Textual Studies).

Barlow, M (1996) Corpora for Theory and Practice, International Journal of Corpus Linguistics vol 1, no1 (pp 1-37) John Benjamins Publishing Co.

Benson, Benson, and Ilson (1986) The BBI Combinatory Dictionary of English: A Guide to Word Combinations, John Benjamin Publishing Company.

Biber, D and E Finegan (1991) On the Exploitation of Computerized Corpora in Variation Studies, In K Aijmer and B Altenberg (eds.), English Corpus Linguistics London: Longman.

Biber, D Conrad, S & Reppen, R (1998) Corpus Linguistics - Investigating Language Structure and Use CUP.

Birmingham, University of, Glossary of Corpus Linguistics

Carter, R (1987) Vocabulary: Applied Linguistic Perspectives, Allen & Unwin (reprinted 1994 by Routledge).

Carter, R & M McCarthy (1998) Vocabulary and Language Teaching, Longman.

Chafe, W, J DuBois, and S Thompson 1991 Towards a New Corpus of Spoken American English, In K Aijmer and B Altenberg (eds), English Corpus Linguistics London: Longman.

Church, K, W Gale, P Hanks and D Hindle 1991 Using statistics in lexical analysis, In U Zernik (ed)

Lexical Acquisition, Englewood Cliff, NJ: Erlbaum 115-64.

Clear, J (1993) From Firth principles: Computational tools for the study of collocation, In M Baker, G Francis, and E Tognini-Bonelli (eds) text and technology: In honour of John Sinclair, Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Clear, J H (1992) 'Corpus Sampling' in G Leitner (ed), Mouton de Gruyter, Berlin 21-31.

Clear, J H (1994) 'I Can't See the Sense in a Large Corpus' in F Kiefer, G Kiss, J Pajzs (eds) Research Institute for Linguistics, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, 33-48.

Cruse, D A (1986) Lexical semantics, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Davis, Mark, Ted Dunning and Bill Ogden (1995) Text Alignment in the Real World: Improving Alignments of Noisy Translations Using Common Lexical Features, String Matching Strategies and N-Gram Comparisons, European Association for Computation Linguistics.

Deignan, A Knowles, M Sinclair, J Willis, D (1997) Lexis, School of English, Centre for English Language Studies, Material for the Birmingham University MA TEFL/TESL.

Dunning, Ted (1993) Accurate Methods for the Statistics of Surprise and Coincidence, Computational Linguistics 19, 1.

Gairns, R & Redman, S (1986) Working with Words, CUP.

Gavioli, L (1997) Exploring Text Through the Concordancer: Guiding the Leaner, In Wichmann, A et al (Eds), Teaching and Language Corpora (pp 83-99) Longman: London and new York.

Gitsaki, C (1996) The Development of ESL Collocational Knowledge, A thesis submitted for a Phd in the Centre for Language Teaching and Research at The University of Queensland,

Johns, T (1988) Whence and Whither Classroom Concordancing?- In T Bongaerts et al (eds) Computer Applications in Language Learning, Dordrecht: Foris.

Johns, T (1991) Should you be persuaded - Two Examples of Data Driven Learning Materials, In the English language Research Journal 4 (pp 1-16) University of Birmingham.

Johns, T (1991) From printout to handout: Grammar and vocabulary learning in the context of data-driven learning, English Language Research Journal 4 (pp 27-45) University of Birmingham.

Keller, E & Warner, S T (1988) Conversation Gambits, Language Teaching Publications.

Kennedy, G (1998) An Introduction to Corpus Linguistics, Longman, London and new York.

Kjellmer, G A (1994) Dictionary of English Collocations, Oxford University Press.

Lewis, M (1993) The Lexical Approach, Language Teaching Publications.

Mark, K (1998) Applying Learner Corpus Insights to the Design of Instructional Materials, In Lewis P (Ed., Exploring Relationships in CALL, (pp 119-125) JALT CALL.

McCarthy, M J (1990) Vocabulary, CUP.

Minagawa, J (1998) Vocabulary, List, & Concordance Tools for a Closer Inspection of EFL University Student Electronic Writing, In Lewis P (Ed), Exploring Relationships in CALL (pp 129-136) JALT CALL.

Nation, I S P (1990) Teaching & Learning Vocabulary, Heinle & Heinle.

Nattinger, J R and J S Decarrico (1992) Lexical phrases and language teaching, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Nattinger, J R (1980) A Lexical Phrase Grammar for ESL, TESOL Quarterly, 14(3), 337-344.

Oakes, P (1998) Statistics for Corpus Linguistics, Edinburgh University Press.

Quirk, R (1992) On Corpus Principles and Design, In Svartik, J (ed) Directions in Corpus Linguistics, Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Sinclair, J (1991) Corpus Concordance Collocation, Oxford University Press.

Sinclair, J (1997) Corpus Evidence in Language Description, In Wichmann, A et al (Eds), Teaching and Language Corpora (pp 27-39) Longman: London and new York.

Stevens, V (1991) Concordance-based Vocabulary Exercises: A Viable Alternative to Gap-Filling, English Language Research Journal (4) 47-61 University of Birmingham.

Stevens, Vance (1995) Concordancing with Language Learners: Why?- When?- What?- CAELL Journal, 6,2 2-10.

Taylor, L (1992) Vocabulary in action, Prentice Hall.

Tribble, C and G Jones (1990) Concordances in the Classroom, London: Longman.

Willis, D (1990) The Lexical Syllabus, Collins Cobuild.

Yorio, C A (1980) Conventionalized language forms and the development of communicative competence, TESOL Quarterly, 14(4), 433-442.

Another Corpus Linguistics link | Colin | October 25 th , 2001

Hi Pinkie and other interested parties,

You were asking about corpus linguistics a few postings ago, and you're involved in translation, so have you checked out this site? This is Mike Barlow's page of links to parallel corpora and there are a few references there too.


CORPORA AND CONCORDANCES | Pinkie | October 25 th , 2001

Thanks Colin for the parallel corpora website, though I think it was Jake that was asking about this, not me: or perhaps my galloping Alzheimer's worse than I thought! A good starting point for corpus links is the BNC, in my opinion. I don't know if anyone's mentioned this yet.

Jake- Apart from the very useful Cobuild site, I'm not aware of any other online corpus analysis facilities, except for a rather crude site at the University of Essex which allows you to search Project Gutenberg texts (Dante, Dickens, that sort of stuff ...not much use unless you're teaching English for Time Travel!). Anybody?

As for my own (limited) experience of using concordances in class, v briefly...

a) I've found it interesting but certainly difficult- I think you've got to think very carefully about the task.

b) In my context (academic writing) I think it's especially useful for words with several meanings that tend to throw students off track: eg "up", which is very frequent in scientific writing in "up to", though also with other uses, especially phrasal verbs (eg make up, take up, set up) and within words like follow-up and up-regulate. So concordances are an effective way of presenting these different uses and getting Ss to work them out (ie awareness raising).

c) I also think concordances are useful for encouraging Ss to use real texts as models for their own writing. In fact, I don't think this is as simple as it sounds, because we can't reasonably expect students to buy a corpus analysis program and learn to use it: ie they're never going to be able to extract concordances as easily as we can. Still, they can draw up brief concordances themselves, manually or with the aid of a word processor: eg I might ask them to find 10 occurrences of the word "however", and to use them to decide whereabouts in the sentence this word can occur.

I'd certainly be very interested to hear other peoples' experiences with concordances in the classroom.

Bienvenida Laura!



Re: concordance/collocation websites | Evan Frendo | October 25th, 2001

Here are some links which might be new to some on the list:

BNC | Concordance Software | WebCorp

Evan Frendo

Re: concordance websites | Mary Lynn | October 29 th , 2001

In response to Jake's requests, I'd like to add my contribution to the info and ideas already posted.


Cobuild Direct and BNC's SARA search sites have already been mentioned, but I think it's worth noting that on the BNC site you get whole-sentence citations (not really concordances), which might be more intelligible to students although much longer to print.

The only other free site I know of is UQAM and VLC's 'Online Concordance' , where you can get concordances from a variety of small corpora (13 in total, ranging from just over 1 million down to 24,000 words). If you're looking for something more focused/specialised than the big corpora, they might be useful. There are also some formatting options not provided by the demo versions of Cobuild or BNC (including left/right sorting), as well as facilities for highlighting collocations.

Some related sites (also from 'Lexical Tutor' on Phil Quirke's website) that might be of interest are the Web Freq Indexer and Web VP, where you can either type in or paste a text, then get frequency lists (might be an interesting exercise for more advanced students, or for analysing learner texts?) The first site just gives a freq list, the second breaks down the text according to four different frequency lists, and both sites have sample texts.

Concord Writer offers concordances from the same corpora as 'Online Concordancer' (above), but also has a quite interesting 'under development' section on using concordances for error correction, with some samples of common grammatical errors. (Interestingly, the preposition error sample uses 'He goes to home', which as far as I remember was part of a heated TDA discussion here more than a year ago).

I use concordances (mostly Cobuild) in class for a variety of purposes. For example, to help students see differences in the usage and meaning of words they often confuse ('fun' v 'funny'; 'rise' v 'raise') or near-synonyms (eg 'remote', 'distant' & 'faraway') that (esp Cambridge exam) course books present in single sentence 'vocabulary' exercises entirely devoid of context. Also, with common words (like 'break' or 'put') to identify phrasal verbs and other multi-word items, their different meanings, uses, collocations, etc. Or to provide lots of examples of specific discourse markers (eg 'although', 'despite/in spite of') so students can see the (syntactic) differences in usage. Basically, for any question that concordances might clarify.

Some students like the exploratory, analytical nature of the activity, but for others it's a turn-off, and I have to be very careful not to overdo it. (And, as far as I know, only one person has tried the concordance sites provided on my internet list, so they obviously don't find it that interesting. On the whole, they'd much rather I just gave them the 'answers' to their questions!). I also find that the 'chopped off' sentences in Cobuild concordances can be confusing for students, who find it difficult to recognize contexts (and therefore meaning) from such minimal co-text. I agree with Sachiko's and Pinkie's comments about not demanding too much and selecting the task carefully, but it's not always easy to see how to do this. Sometimes I edit concordances so they include only particular collocations or meanings I want to focus on, although I have reservations about limiting the data in this way. Also, I've noticed that, despite apparent 'success' during the concordance activity, students may still mis-use words like 'fun' and 'funny'. This makes me think the activity wasn't sufficiently memorable to make the different meanings 'stick', or at least to make that abstract knowledge available for productive use. I'm not sure what the answer to this problem is, except more exposure and use of the lexical items in realistic, motivating contexts.

If anyone has any ideas about these questions or specific techniques that have worked well with concordances I'd love to hear about them.

Mary Lynn


Archive Categories