Learning words right with the Sketch Engine and WebBootCat: Meaningful lexical acquisition from corpora and the web

Simon Smith, Scott Sommers, Adam Kilgarriff

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In Taiwan, and other Asian countries, students of English expect and are expected to memorize a lot of vocabulary: Ming Chuan University, for example, relies fairly heavily on vocabulary acquisition and retention in its teaching and testing resources. Oftentimes, lists of vocabulary items to be learned by students do not really belong to a particular topic, or fit it very loosely, because the items have not been chosen in a principled way. The present paper reviews the arguments for incidental learning and direct learning of vocabulary in ELT, and shows how a web corpus builder (WebBootCat [Lexical Computing, Ltd., n.d.]) can be used to build lists of words that are related to a particular topic in an intuitive and statistically principled way. A small number of seed search terms are used by WebBootCat to generate a corpus of texts on a given topic, and this corpus is searched to find vocabulary items that are salient to the topic.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCamTESOL Conference on English Language Teaching: Selected Papers
Publication statusPublished - 2008
EventCamTESOL Conference on English Language Teaching - Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Duration: 23 Feb 200823 Feb 2008


ConferenceCamTESOL Conference on English Language Teaching
CityPhnom Penh

Bibliographical note

This paper was given at the CamTesol Conference on English Language Teaching, 2008, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The conference proceedings are available in full text under a CC BY-SA <creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/deed.en_GB> license at: http://www.camtesol.org/Download/Earlier_Publications/Selected_Papers_Vol.4_2008.pdf


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