Swiss learner corpus SWIKO

Project management

(Eva Wiedenkeller and Katharina Karges till 2019)

03.2016 - 12.2024
Corpus, Learning, Acquisition

SWIKO is a multilingual learner corpus describing learner language according to principles of corpus-linguistics. The corpus is an umbrella project developed during the 2016–2019 research period and being further developed in the 2021–2024 period. It incorporates data from other projects at the Research Centre on Multilingualism. SWIKO can currently be accessed via a request to the Institute of Multilingualism.

During the first research period (2016–2019), a database consisting of task-based oral and written student texts was compiled. The texts were produced by lower-secondary students in the foreign languages German, French and English. In parallel, the same oral and written tasks were used to compile productions by their peers speaking German and French as the language of schooling. At the end of 2020, the corpus encompassed 1,803 written and 410 oral original texts. SWIKO enables searches and analyses of learners’ vocabulary and grammar competence, also when contrastive questions are asked, e.g. writing vs. speaking in a foreign language, foreign languages in comparison, foreign language vs. language of schooling.

In the current research period (2021–2024), SWIKO is being further developed in the scope of two projects:

The project “Weiterentwicklung und Anwendungen (WETLAND)” (Further development and applications) continues work within the defined parameters to expand and consolidate the corpus and analyses selected data in more detail; the focus is on task-based productions by lower-secondary students learning German. In addition, a qualitative study is conducted on applications of corpora in teaching and learning contexts at this school level.

The project “Digitalisation et développement de la compétence d'interaction orale (DiCoi)” (Digitisation and development of oral competence) focuses on informal interactions of non-native French speakers in vocational training (upper secondary level). On the one hand, the application of corpora as a digital teaching resource in vocational education is examined; on the other, the development of communicative interaction competence in French is studied.

Purpose – Expected results

The overarching aim of SWIKO is to prepare learner language productions for research purposes and to analyse selected data in more detail in order to better understand (multilingual) language acquisition in Switzerland. A further goal is to make the corpus accessible to a wider range of interested persons. Moreover, it is expected that SWIKO will produce practically relevant results for pedagogical contexts, including empirically based guidelines on using corpora in teaching and learning.