French Learner Language Oral Corpora flloc
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Newcastle Corpus


Each learner undertook five oral tasks on a one-to-one basis with a researcher, and a paired oral discussion task together with another learner from the same college. All tasks were recorded digitally, and took approximately 15 minutes each, making a total of a little more than one hour of spoken language per pupil. The tasks used were the same for both rounds, and some of the tasks were similar to those used in the Progression and Linguistic Development projects, modified where necessary to allow for the age group of the participants. Samples of the different tasks have been provided.

L = Loch Ness (Story telling) Task

Using a prepared text, the researcher first narrated, in French, a simple story based on a picture story book. The learner was provided with a wordlist and asked to re-tell the story in French from the pictures in the book, with limited prompting and support from the researcher.

I = Interrogatives Task

The aim of this task was to elicit data concerning the learner's use of interrogative forms in French. The researcher had a drawing of a French town scene, which included four characters doing different activities. The learner was given a version of the same scene, in which the characters had been omitted, together with a pencil and a rubber, and instructed to draw the four characters on to the scene by asking appropriate questions to the researcher.

N = Negatives and adverbs

The learner was shown simple cartoon characters doing different activities. The aim was for the learner to say what the person was doing in one simple sentence. Where a cartoon was crossed out, the learner was to say they did not do that activity. Where a cartoon had an adverb below it, the learner was to use that adverb in his/her sentence.

P = Photos task

In the first part of this task, the learner was given three pictures showing a group of young people taking part in summer activities during their gap year, and was asked to imagine he/she was a journalist wanting to write an article about gap years. The learner was instructed to ask the researcher questions about the young people in the photos, e.g. their names, ages, where they were, what they were doing, etc., to gain as much information as possible. When the learner had finished asking questions, the researcher then questioned the learner either about his/her own plans for the summer holidays, using the future tense, or about what he/she had done the previous summer, using the past tense.

The second part of the task took the same format as the first, but a set of three pictures depicting young people in winter scenes was used. Again the learner was asked to interrogate the researcher to obtain as much information as possible about the people and what was happening in the photos. The researcher then questioned the learner about his/her Christmas holidays, using the alternative time reference to that used in the first part of the exercise.

Finally, the researcher asked the learner general questions about his/her opinions, interests and future intentions, using present, future and past tenses.

T = Temps Modernes

In this task learners were shown a short silent film, following which they were asked to recount the story of what they had seen to the researcher. Learners were given a short list of vocabulary items to refer to if they needed help, and the context of the film was explained to them in advance, as follows:-

"The film takes place in America in the 1930's when hunger, poverty and unemployment were at their highest. Charlie has just been fired from his job at a shipyard. The young girl you will see is an orphan. Her father was shot in a demonstration and her sisters have been sent to an orphanage. She has managed to escape just before being sent there herself."

D = Discussion task (in pairs)

The two learners were each given four sheets, each one showing (in French) a different topic of current interest, together with four suggested measures to tackle this issue, and a brief vocabulary list. They were asked to choose one of the topics to discuss between themselves, to debate the pros and cons of the suggested measures, to each propose a further suggestion and to agree on a rating for each of the measures.

X = Vocabulary test (X-Lex)

We also gave all students a short pen and paper version of the X-Lex French vocabulary test. This test is an adaptation of the original X-Lex (Meara, 1992). It is a Yes/No test which presents the learner with 120 words one by one. Learners have to indicate which ones they know by ticking a box next to each word. The words are 20 randomly selected words from each 1000 word frequency band and a further 20 non-words that are phonologically and morphologically meant to look like real words. The number of pseudo-words ticked allows the score on the real words to be adjusted for guessing and over-estimation. The total test score is out of 5000. Three versions of the X-Lex were used in the collection of this corpus, each student was asked to perform one of the three to avoid copying. The test can be found here: X-Lex1, X-Lex2, and X-Lex3.