Vortrag: Elen Le Foll (18.5.2022)

Im Rahmen des Oberseminars Computerlinguistik findet am 18.5.2022 ein Vortrag statt, zu dem wir herzlich einladen möchten.


Elen Le Foll
, M.A. (Universität Osnabrück)


Mittwoch, 18.5.2022, 16:15–17:45 Uhr, in Präsenz / via Zoom, s.u. über Zugangsdaten.


Bismarckstr. 12, R.0.320, 91054 Erlangen


“Schulenglisch und das Original – zwei Welten treffen aufeinander…” –
Identifying the defining characteristics of the language of secondary school EFL textbooks


English as it is represented in secondary school English as a Foreign Language (EFL) textbooks is often perceived to be somehow different from “natural”, “authentic” English.

Schulenglisch und das Original – zwei Welten treffen aufeinander…
[School English and the original – two worlds collide…]
<deTenTen18: realschule-wedemark.de>

Previous corpus studies have indeed confirmed that individual lexico-grammatical features are often misrepresented in school EFL textbooks. This is potentially highly problematic given that, in secondary instructional contexts, textbooks constitute a major and highly influential vector of foreign language input. It is therefore worth asking: Is Textbook English a special variety of English? If so, in what ways does it differ from naturally occurring, extra-curricular English?

This study sets out to answer these questions using multi-feature/multi-dimensional analysis (MDA; Biber 1988; Berber Sardinha & Biber 2014; Berber Sardinha & Veirano Pinto 2019) to compare the language of nine series of EFL textbooks used at lower secondary school level in Germany, France and Spain to three target language reference corpora. To this end, it proposes a revised MDA framework that relies on Principal Component Analysis (PCA) and extensive visualisations (inspired by Diwersy, Evert & Neumann 2014 and Neumann & Evert 2021). The defining linguistic characteristics of “Textbook English” are explored along four dimensions of linguistic variation.

The results suggest that Textbook English can indeed be considered a distinct variety of English. However, it is not homogenous: mixed-effects linear models predicting the dimension scores of each of the 4,980 texts under study reveal that internal variation is mediated by different factors on the four dimensions examined, including text register, the textbooks’ targeted proficiency level, and interactions between these two variables. The textbooks’ instructions and explanations, in particular, are shown to have very specific linguistic characteristics that set these texts apart from other textbook registers. The contrastive textbook vs. extra-curricular English analysis also points to a disconcerting gap between Textbook Conversation and naturally occurring conversation across all textbook proficiency levels.

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