About Magali Paquot

Affiliation: Centre for English Corpus Linguistics, Institut Langage et Communication, Université catholique de Louvain
Current position: FNRS postdoctoral researcher
Research interests: phraseology, collocations, lexical bundles, L1 influence, L1 identification, pedagogical lexicography, EAP/ESP, writing

(Learner) Corpora and their application in language testing and assessment

Santiago de Compostela, 22 May 2013
Pre-conference workshop – Call for papers
(Learner) Corpora and their application in language testing and assessment
Convenors: Marcus Callies (Bremen) and Sandra Götz (Giessen)

Corpora and corpus linguistic tools and methods are frequently used in the study of second language (L2) learning, most notably in Learner Corpus Research (LCR). LCR has contributed significantly to the description of interlanguages and many of its findings have resulted in useful applications for foreign language teaching and learning. Learner- and native-speaker corpora have also received increasing attention in the area of language testing and assessment (LTA; Barker 2010; Taylor & Barker 2008). Practical applications of corpora in LTA can range from corpus-informed to corpus-based and corpus-driven approaches, depending on how corpus data are actually put into practice, the aims and outcomes for LTA, and the degree of involvement of the researcher in the process of data retrieval, analysis and interpretation (Barker 2010; Callies, Zaytseva & Diez-Bedmar to appear).

More recently, researchers have also turned to corpora to inform, validate, and develop the way proficiency is operationalized in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR; Council of Europe 2001, 2009). While the CEFR has been highly influential in language testing and assessment, the way it defines proficiency levels using “can-do-statements” has been criticized, because they are often too impressionistic. For example, a learner at the C2 level is expected to maintain “consistent grammatical control of complex language”, whereas at C1 he/she should “consistently maintain a high degree of grammatical accuracy” (Council of Europe 2001, 2009). Such global, vague and underspecified descriptions have limited practical value to distinguish between proficiency levels and also fail to give in-depth linguistic details regarding individual languages or learners’ skills in specific registers. These shortcomings have led to an increasing awareness among researchers of the need  to identify more specific linguistic
descriptors or ‘criterial features’ which can be quantified by learner data. The aim of such
corpus-based approaches is to add “grammatical and  lexical details of English to CEFR’s
functional characterisation of the different levels” (Hawkins & Filipovic 2012: 5).
While (learner) corpora have the potential to increase transparency, consistency and
comparability in the assessment of L2 proficiency, several problems and challenges may also be encountered. One major difficulty is that “proficiency level” has often been a fuzzy variable in learner corpus compilation and analysis (Carlsen 2012), because, due to practical constraints, proficiency has mostly been operationalized and assessed globally by means of external criteria, typically learner-centred methods such as learners’ institutional status. However, recent studies show that global proficiency measures based on external criteria alone are not reliable indicators of proficiency for corpus compilation (Mukherjee 2009; Callies to appear 2013), and “hidden” differences in proficiency (e.g. Pendar & Chapelle  2008) often go undetected or tend to be disregarded in learner corpus analysis (e.g. Götz 2013). Thus, the field still seems to be in need of a corpus-based description of language proficiency to account for inter-learner variability and seek homogeneity in learner corpus compilation and L2 assessment. Another issue that has been intensively debated is the appropriate basis of comparison for learner corpus data, i.e. against
what yardstick learner performance should be compared and evaluated.

The aim of this workshop is to discuss the benefits in terms of current practices and
developments, but also the challenges and possible  obstacles of using both native-speaker
reference corpora and learner corpora for testing and assessing L2 proficiency. We thus invite submissions that provide case studies exemplifying how corpora can be used for the assessment of L2 proficiency in both speaking and writing. In particular, submissions should address one of the following topics:

• corpus compilation (types of corpus data and their usefulness for testing purposes;
proficiency as a fuzzy variable in learner corpus compilation and analysis; homogeneity
vs. variability in corpus composition)
• corpus comparability (e.g. as to register/genre or task setting and conditions, i.e. testing
vs. non-testing contexts, prompt, timing, access to reference works)
• the  operationalization of (types of) proficiency in corpus approaches to testing and
• the use of corpora in  data-driven approaches to the assessment of proficiency (e.g.
using corpus data to validate or complement human rating as in studies based on errortagged learner corpora, or using corpus data (partially) independently of human rating).

Abstracts are invited for this workshop and should  be 400 to 500 words long (excluding
references). They should be submitted by e-mail to and by 1st February 2013. Notification of acceptance will be sent out in late February 2013.

LCR2013 call for papers

We welcome presentations that address all aspects of learner corpus research, in particular the following ones:

  • Corpus based transfer studies
  • Longitudinal and cross-linguistic learner corpora
  • Learner corpora for less commonly taught languages
  • Statistical methods in learner corpus studies
  • Search engines for learner corpora
  • Task and learner variables
  • Data mining and other explorative approaches to learner corpora
  • Corpora as pedagogical resources
  • Metaphors, idioms and multiword expressions in learner language
  • Innovative annotations in learner corpora
  • Error detection and correction of learner language
  • Links between learner corpus research and other research methodologies (e.g. experimental methods)
  • Learner corpora, native speaker norms and the English as a lingua franca debate

There will be three different categories of presentation:

  • Full paper (20 minutes + 10 minutes for discussion)
  • Corpus/software demonstration
  • Poster

The posters are intended to present research still at a preliminary stage and on which researchers would like to get feedback. The conference aims to be a showcase for the latest developments in the field and will feature both corpus/software demos and a book exhibition.

The language of the conference is English.

Submission of extended abstracts

For all categories of presentation, an extended abstract of 600 to 750 words must be submitted (this word limit does not apply to the references). Suitable texts typically provide the following:

  • a clearly articulated research question and its relevance;
  • the most important facts about the research approach, data used and methods applied;
  • the main results and their interpretation.

Extended abstracts must be submitted through EasyChair by February 15, 2013, 23:59 CET. Log in and click on New Submission.  There you will find further instructions.  Make sure to do the following:

  • On the submission page, enter the authors’ names and affiliations, the title of the presentation, a short abstract (5-7 lines) and at least three keywords.
  • Do not repeat this information except for the title in the extended abstract which is to be uploaded in pdf.  In particular, your uploaded text should not include any information revealing your identity.

Submissions will be reviewed anonymously by the program committee. You will be notified of the outcome of the review process by March 31, 2013.

Accepted submissions will be retracted if none of the authors are registered by the April 15 deadline.

Contact: Questions about the call for papers and the program can be directed to the program chairs at  Inquiries regarding venue and local organization should be directed to

PhD openings in English linguistics

The Institute for Language and Communication at the Université catholique de Louvain (Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium) has two PhD openings within the framework of the research project “Fluency and disfluency markers. A multimodal contrastive perspective” conducted jointly by the CECL (Centre for English Corpus Linguistics), VALIBEL – Discours et Variation and CENTAL (Centre de traitement automatique du langage) in collaboration with the University of Namur (Namur Research College).

The selected candidates will be engaged in a 4-year PhD project on the following topics:

  • Topic 1. Fluency and disfluency in English native and learner speech (supervisors: Gaëtanelle Gilquin and Sylviane Granger)
  • Topic 2. Discourse markers as (dis)fluency markers in English and French speech (supervisors: Liesbeth Degand and Gaëtanelle Gilquin)


  • – Master in linguistics or modern languages (major in linguistics), with honours
    – Native or near-native speaker of English (Topic 1) and very good knowledge of English and French (Topic 2)
    – High level of academic English
    – Good knowledge of linguistic statistics or commitment to acquire it
    – Familiarity with corpus linguistic methods and tools
    – Dynamic and motivated
    – Capacity to work independently and as part of a team
    – Previous experience with the analysis of spoken language and/or discourse features is an asset

We offer a motivating research environment with many opportunities for collaboration with other researchers working on the same project. The salary consists of a PhD grant including social security (+/- 1500 € net/month).

Deadline: January 1st, 2013; review of applications will continue until the position is filled.

If you are interested in one of the above PhD grants, please send a letter of motivation, a CV, and two references in electronic form to:

  • Topic 1: Gaëtanelle Gilquin ( and Sylviane Granger (
  • Topic 2: Liesbeth Degand ( and Gaëtanelle Gilquin (

Additional information:

More info on the project (Dis)fluency project