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MLAL Research Seminar Series Spring 2017


MLAL Research Seminar Series



Thursday 23 March 2-3:30pm, MC2-003



What “should” happen in a “good” French class?

A corpus-driven analysis of secondary level Inspectorate reports in Ireland



Stéphanie O’Riordan – Lecturer in French, School of MLAL



In the post-2008 economic crisis era, increased expectations regarding accountability and transparency in all spheres of public services have strengthened the need for school inspections to be carried out and for subsequent Inspectorate reports to be published by the Irish Department of Education. Indeed, such documents represent significant resources for all education stakeholders to review teaching standards at a particular point in time (Sugrue 2006).

Inspired by Bernardini’s (2000) call to “systematis[e] serendipity” in corpus-based research, this paper presents a corpus-driven analysis of Inspectorate reports in the area of French language teaching and learning in secondary level education in Ireland. After a brief summary of the corpus construction methodology, the data analysis will be presented based on the significant frequency of specific linguistic items such as the modal “should” and the adjective “good”. Although the corpus will be investigated primarily on the basis of quantitative criteria using Antconc, qualitative analysis will be necessary in order to extract and categorise the key pedagogic features of French teaching practices which were discussed in the reports. The contention of this research study is that corpus-driven methodology is immensely valuable to ‘see the wood for the trees’ when investigating the evaluation of teaching practices in Irish secondary schools.