Corpus Linguistics for English Majors and Digital Literacies

Charles Lam, Hang Seng Management College

Click the video frame above to view the presentation. To ask the presenters a question about their presentation, please add a comment at the bottom of this page between October 3 and October 8. Presenters will check for and reply to questions each symposium day.


This presentation demonstrates how an upper-level undergraduate corpus linguistics class connects language studies and IT skills, and argues for the importance of digital literacies for English majors in Hong Kong, where most students are experienced L2 learners of English. The corpus linguistics class was designed to prioritize the practical and transferable skills that prepares college graduates for their careers. To this end, the course adopts a hands-on approach, by which students are often expected to explore skills that they have not learned previously.

While topics about corpus linguistics are still discussed in all lessons, individual technical tools are highlighted that will facilitate a term project, which is an elementary corpus-based study. Students are expected to complete a given task in each lesson (2x/week), in which they collect data and present the results in various forms.

The presentation includes challenges to the course: (i) Students are typically unconfident with IT skills, and (ii) intensive and hands-on exercise require a lot of attention from the instructor. Several solutions employed will also be discussed.

For humanities students in general, this approach is particularly suitable for technology-oriented courses in humanities. Students are motivated by the subject knowledge and they learn the practical skills that complement their language expertise. Specific to linguistics pedagogy, the class shows students how linguistics data reveal patterns and help linguists confirm or disprove their hypotheses. From an applied linguistics perspective, students also learn how corpus tools are used for L2 English learning.

Charles Lam

Assistant Professor, Department of English
Hang Seng Management College