Research

Selected Projects

Frequency, semantic, and functional characteristics of discontinuous formulaic language

Discontinuous sequences of words, or phrases with an internal variable slot, such as in the * of, have been called ‘phrase frames’, ‘lexical frames’, and ‘collocational frameworks’. I am investigating the semantic characteristics of fillers of recurrent frames using the WordNet lexical database as well as investigating the primary discourse functions of frames using an adaption of Biber et al.’s (2004) taxonomy of discourse functions of lexical bundles. A manuscript is currently under review.

Text analysis of faculty publications from PhD programs in Applied Linguistics

Roz Hirch and I are collaborating on a project that uses corpus-based methods including keyword analysis, topic modeling, and cluster analysis to shed light on what faculty at PhD programs in applied linguistics in North America are publishing. Different aspects and data mining approaches to this project were presented at SLRF 2015/2017, AAAL 2015, and AACL 2016. An article focusing on the effect different reference corpora have on keyword analysis has been published in the journal Register Studies (2019), 1(2), 209-242.

We are also preparing manuscripts that explore the effect different methods have on keyword analysis (e.g., t-test and log-likelihood) and clustering texts with fuzzy cluster analysis.

Corpus-based language learning

This project investigates learners’ perceptions and the efficacy of placing data-driven learning (DDL) at the center of a speaking course. The aim of the course was to teach students to use free, online, open-access corpora to gain insights into the formulaic tendencies of their chosen target lexical items. Early versions of this research were presented at JALT CALL 2012 and SLRF 2012. The study was published in ReCALL (2014), 26(2), 225-242.

Web as corpus

Some researchers in applied linguistics and SLA consider the web to be a “living”, dynamic corpus. Others argue against this citing the fact that the web is not a principled collection of texts representing a specific register of writing. Either way, the web exists and can be searched via search engines such as Google. This research project investigates whether or not EFL learners can make improvements to the “naturalness” of their writing, as judged by native speakers of English, by using web searches to shed light on the frequency of occurrence of potential formulaic sequences to be used in their writing. This research was presented in various states at Thai TESOL 2011 and JALT 2011, and Published in Computer Assisted Language Learning (2013), 26(2), 144-157.

Professional identity of foreign teachers of English in Japan

Native English speakers enjoy abundant, and often well-paid, English teaching opportunities in Japan. However, many teachers feel that there is a “glass ceiling” for foreign teachers of English in Japan. This research project used semi-structured interviews to illuminate how five foreign teachers of English in pre-tertiary education in Japan perceive their own professional identity and contrasted that with how they believe they are viewed by their students and their Japanese colleagues. This research was published in D. J. Rivers and S. Houghton (Eds.), Native-speakerism in Japan: Intergroup Dynamics in Foreign Language Education (pp. 90-102). Bristol: Multilingual Matters.