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University of the Arts London

Creating and using corpora: A principled approach to identifying key language within art & design


A considerable body of research points to the importance of lexical knowledge for students studying, working and communicating in a second language (Carver, 1994; Hu and Nation, 2000; Schmitt and Schmitt, 2014), but decisions regarding content to prioritise can be difficult. Although there are many books aimed at teaching English for Academic Purposes (EAP), the language of and for art and design is conspicuous by its absence. Tutors face challenges in identifying relevant input texts and then creating appropriate language materials for students. This article shows how ‘corpus’ informed approaches can aid in the identification and selection of lexis, with relevant art-related words and vocabulary through which they can communicate their ideas and better understand the subject the learn.


EAP, English, corpus, vocabulary, pedagogy, language


Author Biography

David C. King

David C. King is Acting Head of Insessional programmes, based in UAL’s Language Centre. David has an MA in Applied Linguistics from King's College London. His research interests include genres of academic writing within art and design, corpus linguistics, and materials design.

Helen Hickey

Helen Hickey is Acting Head of Presessional Programmes in the Language Centre at UAL. Helen has an MA in Applied Linguistics and English Language Teaching from King’s College London. She has supported a range of degree courses from Foundation through to postgraduate in a variety of disciplines (Product Design, Fashion, Fine Art, Photography). Her current research interest is the compilation of corpora and their application to materials design and the classroom.


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