Pedagogic Corpora for Content and Language Integrated Learning. Insights from the BACKBONE Project

Kurt Kohn


BACKBONE is a European LLP/Languages project (1) (Jan 2009 - Feb 2011), whose overall objective is to provide foreign language teachers in CLIL settings with innovative language learning solutions. To achieve this goal, pedagogic corpora of spoken interviews are combined with corpus-related e-learning activities in blended learning scenarios. The seven BACKBONE corpora contain video interviews in English, German, French, Polish, Spanish and Turkish as well as in European manifestations of English as a Lingua Franca (ELF). The interviews have been transcribed and pedagogically annotated with regard to thematic and linguistic features; additional enrichment resources include ready-made language learning modules as well as suggestions and instructions for exploratory and communicative learning activities. The BACKBONE search interface provides free online access to the interviews and enrichment resources. It supports pedagogically motivated searches using thematic and linguistic categories as well as lexical searches with words and phrases. 24 CLIL-related pilot courses have been implemented and evaluated in secondary, higher and vocational education; they demonstrate how BACKBONE search results can be used to facilitate individual and collaborative learning in Moodle-based blended learning activities. A suite of pedagogic corpus tools covering transcription, annotation, management of enrichment resources and corpus search is available under a GNU General Public License. The customization and flexibility these tools offer enables teachers to cater to diverse language learning and teaching needs in CLIL contexts or in connection with lesser taught languages and varieties. To facilitate exploitation, the BACKBONE website serves as a ‘one-stop-shop’ for an ensemble of teacher support facilities including web support for the development and hosting of “guest” corpora and courses.


Pedagogic corpora; corpus-based language learning; CLIL; Blended Language Learning; e-learning; Moodle

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