Ivor Timmis email interview

A tweet by Pérez-Paredes @perezparedes  alerted me to the release of a new book titled Corpus Linguistics for ELT: Research & Practice by Dr. Ivor Timmis who kindly responded to some questions about the new publication.

1. Can you share a little of your background?

I’ve been involved in ELT for about 30 years as a teacher, teacher educator, PhD supervisor and researcher, more or less in that order.  I have a particular interest in spoken corpora and in the relationship between corpus linguistics and language teaching.  Currently I am working on developing an historical corpus of conversations recorded in a working class community in the 1930s (the Bolton/Worktown corpus).  I also have an interest in materials development for ELT and have just co-written a book with Freda Mishan on that topic.

2. Why did you decide to write the book?

Well, I was invited to do it!  However, I did think there was a real need for it.  For too long there has been talk of the ‘potential’ of corpus linguistics to contribute to language teaching, but I don’t think that potential has been realised to any great extent.  As I say in the book, it was once said of an English footballer, ‘He has a great future behind him’.  His youthful promise never came to fruition – I don’t want that to be said about corpora and ELT.

3. How much of your book would you say is about practice rather than theory?

That is difficult to say – the whole point of the book is to encourage teachers to use corpora and corpus tools (and to encourage their learners to do so).  For that reason, every chapter has hands-on practical tasks.  There is, however, enough theoretical background to ensure informed practice.

4. What kind of corpus skills do you assume your readers will have?

None.  There is a chapter on how to build a corpus and the tasks gradually familiarise readers with corpus skills.

5. Are there any similar books you would recommend?

The closest in spirit is:

O’Keeffe, A.  McCarthy, M. and Carter, R. (2007) From corpus to classroom.  CUP.

Their book, however, self-avowedly, focuses on spoken language.

6. Anything else you would like to add?

I think an acquaintance with corpus research and an ability to exploit corpora should be a part of every English language teacher’s repertoire (among the many other skills teachers need).  I hope the book contributes to that aim.

Many thanks to Ivor for the interview. It’s great to see a new corpus publication focusing on ELT, I look forward to getting it on my bookshelf.

Related – a couple of more interviews with authors of recent books on corpora and teaching:

James Thomas’s Discovering English with SketchEngine [https://eflnotes.wordpress.com/2015/06/14/discovering-english-with-sketchengine-james-thomas-interview/]

Christian Jones and Daniel Waller on Corpus Linguistics for Grammar: A guide for research [https://eflnotes.wordpress.com/2015/06/23/corpus-linguistics-for-grammar-christian-jones-daniel-waller-interview/]

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