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CONCEPT PAPER

ON

DEVELOPING RESEARCH AND TEACHING CAPACITY TO UNDERTAKE CORPUS LINGUISTIC STUDIES OF ENGLISH IN GHANAIAN UNIVERSITIES.

CONTACT PERSONS 1. Prof. Lawrence K. Owusu-Ansah Department of English Tel: 0208227739

2. Dr Joseph Arko Department of English Tel: 0248848645 3 Dr Joseph B.A. Afful Department of English Tel: 0245251989

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Introduction The proposal is primarily to attract collaboration with higher institutions in the United States (US), to undertake capacity building for the faculty and students of the Department of English. The aim is to infuse the intellectual efforts of faculty and students with cutting edge technology and expertise in linguistic research and language teaching. We also propose to undertake a collaborative project with our partners, which will lead to the development of a Ghanaian Universities Corpus of Spoken and Written English (GUCSWE). Background and Rationale The Department of English, since its inception in 1962, has been typical for high quality research and teaching in the traditional disciplines of Literature and Language. A great deal of the research in Language, particularly, has focused on the description of the use of the English Language in a non-native environment like Ghana. Some faculty members have occupied themselves with the History, Sociolinguistics, Pragmatics, Phonology and the Teaching and Learning of English in Ghana. Other staff members have brought their expertise to bear on the design of courses and syllabuses, and on the development of language learning materials and testing instruments for Ghanaian secondary schools and teacher training colleges. It is the case, however, that faculty members subsist on equipment that need updating, and employ techniques and methodologies in data collection and analysis that could be improved with the infusion of new technologies. It is true that in the last five years the department has been linked with Ethernet connection and therefore is now able to access most of the resources available on the internet. While library based research has been hugely enhanced, experimental, laboratory and field work in the department continue to be rudimentary, or else, non-existent. There is the felt need for access to modern laboratory and experimental facilities to enhance our work in language and phonetics. It will also be required that faculty members and postgraduate students receive training in computer programming languages, and in the use of the battery of computer software routinely employed these days in transcribing, scanning, editing, tagging, and in the mathematical and statistical analysis of linguistic data. While the department does not have the financial resources to modernise its equipment and research practice, there is always the urgent need to bring the description of English in Ghana up to date, and to provide authentic teaching and learning materials for the primary and secondary schools in the country. Many young and talented higher level students who get interested in the description of English in Ghana, start their projects with uncommon enthusiasm, but on many occasions have had to abandon their efforts either because of lack of equipment to treat the data they might have collected, or that they lack the expertise to elicit any interesting insights from the data. The need for the department to enhance capacity in terms of research equipment and practice is made even more compelling in view of the recognition of the fact that ESL/EFL programmes in many countries have been more innovative in matching language instruction with actual tasks required in university courses (Biber 2006:17). Language textbook developers and course designers for pre-university institutions in the country, however, have carried on their endeavours without any recourse to a comprehensive data source or systematic analysis of the kind of English required for successful studies in the

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universities. In the universities themselves, student language requirements oblige them to enrol in Communicative Studies programmes, which more or less adopt ESP/EAP (English for Special Purposes/English for Academic Purposes) approaches. As Biber (ibid) has argued, ESP/EAP instructional approaches are motivated by the assumption that there are linguistic differences across language tasks and academic disciplines, and that language instruction should prepare students to deal with those differences. To provide the basis for ESP/EAP instruction we need full linguistic descriptions of the registers students encounter. This recognition has led to several research studies that document the important linguistic characteristics of academic registers. Bibers own study focuses not only on the academic registers used in American universities, but also on the other institutional registers like office hours, study groups, service encounters, classroom management talk, course packs, handbooks, catalogues, programme web pages and course syllabi. The collaborative studies being proposed here emerges from the backdrop of claims, in the literature of world Englishes (e.g. Bamgbose (1971, 1998); Kachru (1976, 2001)), for valid and internally coherent varieties of non-native Englishes, which need to be studied without assuming certain external native standards or contexts of language use. The logical end of this claim is for non-native varieties of English to be systematically collected and carefully analysed and presented in grammar books to serve as norms and standards to be taught and used in educational institutions. While it is the case that Biber et al (1999) cite examples drawn from African prose literature, there are to date no textbooks or study packs that use non-native Englishes as the dominant source material. The truth is that there is a dearth of comprehensive and systematic research aimed at exhaustive description of the grammar, phonology, and pragmatics of non-native Englishes. While there already exists a raft of research outcomes on many aspects of university English in the US and other contexts of native English usage, there does not seem to be much work done to document university English in non-native contexts. This proposal is meant fill the gap by developing the capacity of the Department of English in terms of cutting edge technology, and to enable faculty members and senior research students to acquire the skills commonly employed in contemporary linguistic research practices. A collaborative approach to this will hasten the period of learning and skill acquisition for the faculty and students of the department. The programmes envisaged under this proposal have the potential of strengthening the departments position as a hub of intellectual activity relating to language research and teaching. The enhanced facilities and equipment being sought for under this proposal will be housed in a centre, the Centre for English Teaching and Research (CETR), to be run by the department, and which will attract researchers and teachers from all over the country, and probably from the West Africa sub-region, to upgrade their skills and exchange ideas. The University of Cape Coast, being the premier teacher university in the country, has the required leverage and reputation for one of its founding departments to play such a role. Besides, Ghana is so strategically positioned in the sub-region that researchers from other countries can come here with relative ease to upgrade themselves and to test their ideas. Additionally, the countrys proximity to French speaking nations in the sub-region has the potential for making the work to be done under this proposal have significance not only for learners of English as a second language (ESL), but also for learners of English as a foreign language (EFL). For many years the Faculty of Arts in the University of Cape Coast has been engaged in many collaborative programmes with other higher institutions outside the country. The Cheikh Anta Diop University, Senegal, The University of Lome, Togo, and the University

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of Cote divoire, Abijan, are just a few of the institutions which the faculty has had long lasting relationships involving collaborative research and exchange programmes. The university currently has exchange programmes with Guilford College, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Eastern Washington University, and the School for International Training, for which the Department of English provides hosting facilities and runs courses. The kind of collaboration sort after in this proposal will help bring research equipment and expertise available to the department into line with those obtaining in most of the leading linguistic departments in the US and Europe. The aim is to ensure that our faculty and students are able to make quality contributions to the study of world Englishes. Our collaborating partners will also be able to access directly experience from researchers who have spent most of their adult life researching and teaching English in an environment where English is a second language. The data that will be collected under this project will add to the growing corpus of University English, and coming from a non-native context will be crucial as frames of reference for courses and learning materials developed in native English contexts for learners from diverse backgrounds and speakers of other languages. Objectives Research and training activity under the project will be guided by the overarching objective to build capacity for faculty and students, and to enable the department act as a centre for training in cutting edge linguistic research in English in the non-native context. Specifically the project will focus on Establishing a modern Centre for English Teaching and Research (CETR), equipped with state of the art language laboratory, computing and studio facilities, and a variety of specialist tools for teaching; Developing a corpus of English used in Ghanaian universities; Providing authoritative descriptions of the range of registers used in Ghanaian universities; Providing frames of reference for evaluating language programmes and learning materials developed for pre-university education in the country; Promoting the development of a core group of faculty and students engaged in the study of English in the non-native context; Encouraging the use of authentic materials in the development of language textbooks and other learning packs; Nurturing a forum for the exchange of ideas and the promotion of research collaboration among diverse higher institutions. Methodology In this section we discuss only the procedures that will be adopted in developing the corpus of English used in Ghanaian universities. Along this trajectory there will be no attempt to replicate studies of University English done elsewhere in native English contexts (e.g. Biber et al 2004). Our specific focus on non-native standard varieties of English used in Ghanaian universities will serve to complement those studies done in native English contexts.

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The registers that will be chosen for the Ghanaian Universities Corpus of Spoken and Written English (GUCSWE) will be sampled from a range of spoken and written texts relating to academic life, including textbooks, journal articles, classroom teaching, course descriptions, tutorials, experimental procedures, class presentations, oral defence of thesis, public lectures and inaugural addresses. Registers to be sampled will also include institutional discourses such as vice chancellors reports, student information brochures, public notices, student debates and campus political discourses, student correspondences and representations to university and other authorities, panel discussions and presentations on campus radio. For the spoken corpus we intend recruiting students selected from the six public universities in Ghana, to record classroom teaching, tutorials, oral presentations and defences, public lectures, etc, over a two to three week period. The students will be required to keep a log of speech events and participants, so far as is practicable. We will also request and obtain transcripts of panel discussions and other presentations on campus radios. For the written texts we will request and obtain samples of institutional discourses from the public universities in Ghana. For classroom teaching and textbooks, we will sample textbooks and journal articles which are regularly consulted by and referred to by faculty and students from six major disciplinary areas: Humanities, Natural Sciences, Business, Engineering, Medical Sciences and Education. The written samples will also include lecture notes, study guides, and experimental procedures written by instructors. All spoken texts will be transcribed using the Jeffersonian convention, and as far as possible, with speakers distinguished using some demographic information supplied in the header. Written texts will be scanned and saved on hard disks. All the texts in the GUCSWE will be grammatically annotated using an automatic grammatical tagger. The codes will then be edited by using an interactive tag checker. This is to facilitate the linguistic analyses of the corpus. In selecting linguistic features for analyses this project will incorporate many of the analytical distinctions used in Biber (1988), Biber et al (1999), and Biber (2006), and adopt the procedures of their Multidimensional Register Studies. As has become conventional in corpus studies, the analyses will make descriptions of vocabulary and linguistic constructions in specific lexico-grammatical contexts. Expected Outcomes Generally we expect there to be a transformation of the Department of English in the University of Cape Coast into a thriving intellectual centre, with its faculty and students making significant contributions to the description of World Englishes. We expect the Centre for English Teaching and Research (CETR), which should be established under this proposal, to be a focal point for attracting enduring collaboration among higher institutions in the West Africa sub-region and beyond, an excellent site for training in English Language Teaching (ELT) and a platform for the robust exchange and testing of ideas. Specifically we envisage that the corpus that will be developed will support The writing of reference and learners grammars for English in the non-native context; The design of language courses and the development of language learning materials for pre-university education in the country; The provision of a reference point for the dialogue between planners of language education, English teachers, and examination boards and syndicates; Page 5 of 6

The provision of language competency or communicative skills programmes at the tertiary levels of education in the country.

References Bamgbose, A. 1971. The English language in Nigeria. In Spencer, J. (ed.), The English Language in West Africa, 35-48. London: Longman. Bamgbose, A. 1998. Torn between the Norms: Innovations in World Englishes. World Englishes 17/1: 1-14. Biber, D. 1988. Variation across Speech and Writing. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Biber, D. 2006. University English: A Corpus Study of Spoken and Written Registers Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company. Biber, D., S. Conrad, R. Reppen, P. Byrd, M. Helt, V. Clark, V. Cortes, E. Csomay, & A. Urzua. 2004. Representing Language Use in the University: Analysis of the TOEFL 2000 Spoken and Written Academic Language Corpus. (ETS TOEFL Monograph Series, MS-25). Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Service. Biber, D., S. Johansson, G. Leech, S. Conrad, & E. Finegan. 1999. The Longman Grammar of Spoken and Written English. London: Longman. Kachru, B. B. 1976. Models of English for the Third World: White Mans Linguistic Burden or Language Pragmatics? TESOL Quarterly 10/2: 221-39. Kachru, B. B. 2001. Discourse Competence in World Englishes. In Thumboo, E. (ed.), The Three Circles of English, 341-55. Singapore: UniPress.

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