Using a Free Corpus Tool for Time-efficient Feedback on English as a Foreign Language reports


  • Ana Isabel Martínez Hernández



corpus-based analysis, English-language classroom, writing skills, text analysis, report-writing


English as a Foreign Language (EFL) learners often struggle with some of the elements and features of text composition, such as conventions, socio-cultural aspects like hedging, degree of formality or synonyms. This paper aims to provide, by way of exemplification, the application of a corpus-aided technique that helps teachers determine whether general task completion has been achieved in order to identify learners’ deficiencies in writing. This method was employed to consider lexical range (i.e. synonyms), cohesive devices and hedging strategies, including modal verbs, in the participants’ written outputs, a total of 93, in a higher education EFL classroom. To this end, the tool LexTutor (Cobb n.d.) was used to explore the corpus. The data gathered have been analysed following a quantitative approach. Findings indicate that, on average, learners’ productions met the indications in the instructions. Nevertheless, there was a tendency to use lower-level or simpler structures and words rather than opting for language exploration, thus prioritising accuracy. The present study raises the possibility that EFL teachers can offer general class feedback on students’ productions promptly and efficiently.


Download data is not yet available.


AGUILAR, Gladys, Paola UCCELLI and Emily PHILLIPS GALLOWAY. 2020. “Toward Biliteracy: Unpacking the Contribution of Mid-Adolescent Dual Language Learners’ Spanish and English Academic Language Skills to English Reading Comprehension”. TESOL Quarterly 54 (4): 1010-1036. <>.

APPLEBEE, Arthur and Judith LANGER. 2011. “A Snapshot of Writing Instruction in Middle Schools and High Schools”. The English Journal 100 (6): 14-27.

BAILEY, Stephen. 2003. Academic Writing: A Practical Guide for Students. London and New York: Routledge Falmer Taylor & Francis Group.

BELL, Jan, Roger GOWER and Drew HYDE. 2016. Expert First. 3rd ed. Harlow: Longman.

BELLÉS-FORTUÑO, Begoña. 2016. “Academic Discourse Markers: A Contrastive Analysis of the Discourse Marker ‘Then’ in English and Spanish Lectures”. Verbeia 1: 57-68.

BHATIA, Vijay K. 1993. Analysing Genre. Language Use in Professional Settings. London: Routledge.

CABEZUELO VIVO, Rafael and Víctor PAVÓN. 2019. “Analysing Mathematical Word Problem Solving with Secondary Education CLIL Students: A Pilot Study”. Latin American Journal of Content & Language Integrated Learning 12 (1): 18-45. <>.

CAMBRIDGE ENGLISH ASSESSMENT. 2019. B2 First: Handbook for Teachers.


CARRIÓ-PASTOR, María Luisa. 2013. “A Contrastive Study of the Variation of Sentence Connectors in Academic English”. Journal of English for Academic Purposes 12 (3): 192-202. <>.

CARRIÓ-PASTOR, María Luisa. 2016. “A Contrastive Study of the Hedges Used by English, Spanish and Chinese Researchers in Academic Papers”. In Alonso Almeida, Francisco, Ivalla Ortega Barrera, Elena Quintana Toledo and Margarita E. Sánchez Cuervo (eds.) Input a Word, Analyze the World: Selected Approaches to Corpus Linguistics. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing: 477-491.

CASTELLÓ, Montserrat, Mar MATEOS, Núria CASTELLS, Anna IÑESTA, Isabel CUEVAS and Isabel SOLÉ. 2012. “Academic Writing Practices in Spanish Universities”. Electronic Journal of Research in Educational Psychology 10 (2): 569-90. <>.

CHEN, Cheryl Wei-Yu. 2006. “The Use of Conjunctive Adverbials in the Academic Papers of Advanced Taiwanese EFL Learners”. International Journal of Corpus Linguistics 11 (1): 113-30. <>.

CHEN, Mei-Hua, Shih-Ting HUANG, Jason S. CHANG and Hsien-Chin LIOU. 2015. “Developing a Corpus-Based Paraphrase Tool to Improve EFL Learners’ Writing Skills”. Computer Assisted Language Learning 28 (1): 22-40. <>.

COBB, Tom. n.d. “Compleat Lexical Tutor”. <> . Accessed January 25, 2021.

COFFIN, Caroline, Mary Jane CURRY, Sharon GOODMAN, Ann HEWINGS, Theresa M. LILLIS and Joan SWANN. 2003. Teaching Academic Writing: A Toolkit for Higher Education. Vol. 2. London: Routledge.

DEARDEN, Julie. 2016. English as a Medium of Instruction - a Growing Global Phenomenon. Edited by British Council. University of Oxford. <>.

DEMIR, Cüneyt. 2018. “Hedging and Academic Writing: An Analysis of Lexical Hedges”. Journal of Language and Linguistic Studies 14 (4): 74-92.

DICKSON, Tony. 2009. “Knowledge Transfer and the Globalisation of Higher Education”. Journal of Knowledge-Based Innovation in China 1 (3): 174-84. <>.

EDMONDS, Philip and Graeme HIRST. 2002. “Near-Synonymy and Lexical Choice”. Computational Linguistics 28 (2): 105-44.

FERRETTI, Ralph P. and Steve GRAHAM. 2019. “Argumentative Writing: Theory, Assessment, and Instruction”. Reading and Writing 32 (6): 1345-57. <>.

FILE, Kieran Andrew and Rebecca ADAMS. 2010. “Should Vocabulary Instruction Be Integrated or Isolated?” TESOL Quarterly 44 (2): 222-249. <>.

FITRIA, Tira Nur. 2020. “Spelling Error Analysis in Students’ Writing English Composition”. Getsempena English Education Journal 7 (2): 240-254. <>.

FRASER, Bruce. 2010. “Pragmatic Competence: The Case of Hedging”. In Kaltenböck, Gunther, Wiltrud Mihatsch and Stefan Schneider (eds.) New Approaches to Hedging. Bingley, England: Emerald Group Publishing Ltd.: 15-34.

FURTINA, Dewi, Ika APRIANI FATA and Dohra FITRISIA. 2016. “Grammatical Errors in Writing Task: Males vs. Females”. Proceedings of English Education International Conference 1 (0): 251-58.

GARDNER, Sheena and Hilary NESI. 2013. “A Classification of Genre Families in University Student Writing”. Applied Linguistics 34 (1): 25-52. <>.

GE, Tianshuang. 2015. “The Use of Modal Verbs to Express Hedging in Student Academic Writing”. Research in Corpus Linguistics 3: 37-46. <>.

GOMEZ-LAICH, Maria Pia, Ryan T. MILLER and Silvia PESSOA. 2019. “Scaffolding Analytical Argumentative Writing in a Design Class: A Corpus Analysis of Student Writing”. Linguistics and Education 51: 20-30. <>.

GRAHAM, Steve. 2019. “Changing How Writing Is Taught”. Review of Research in Education, 43: 277-303. <>.

HALLIDAY, Michael Alexander Kirkwood and Ruqaiya HASAN. 1976. Cohesion in English. London: Longman.

SARANI, Muftah. 2014. “Conjunctions in Argumentative Writing of Libyan Tertiary Students”. English Language Teaching 7 (3): 108-120. <>.

HINKEL, Eli. 2005. “Hedging, Inflating, and Persuading in L2 Academic Writing”. Applied Language Learning 15 (1): 29-53.

HYLAND, Ken. 1996a. “Writing without Conviction? Hedging in Science Research Articles”. Applied Linguistics 17 (4): 433-54. <>.

HYLAND, Ken. 1996b. “Nurturing Hedges in the ESP Curriculum”. System 24 (4): 477-490. <>.

HYLAND, Ken. 2006. Teaching and Researching Writing. 2nd ed. Harlow, United Kingdom: Pearson. <>.

HYLAND, Ken. 2008. “Genre and Academic Writing in the Disciplines”. Language Teaching 41 (4): 543-562. <>.

HYLAND, Ken and Feng (Kevin) JIANG. 2017. “Is Academic Writing Becoming More Informal?” English for Specific Purposes 45: 40-51. <>.

JIMÉNEZ CATALÁN, Rosa Ma and Julieta OJEDA ALBA. 2014. “Diagnosis of EFL Learners’ Difficulties in the Use of Connectors in a Writing Task: Strategies for Remedial Work”. Didáctica. Lengua i Literatura 26: 197-216. <>.

KING, Lid. 2018. The Impact of Multilingualism on Global Education and Language Learning. <>. Accessed February 15, 2021.

LAHUERTA, Ana Cristina. 2018. “Study of Accuracy and Grammatical Complexity in EFL Writing”. International Journal of English Studies 18 (1): 71-89. <>.

LASAGABASTER, David, Aintzane DOIZ and Juan Manuel SIERRA. 2014. Motivation and Foreign Language Learning. From Theory to Practice. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. <>.

LIU, Dilin, and Shouman ZHONG. 2016. “L2 vs. L1 Use of Synonymy: An Empirical Study of Synonym Use/Acquisition”. Applied Linguistics 37 (2): 239-261. <>.

MARULANDA, Niora Lucía and Juan MARTÍNEZ GARCÍA. 2017. “Improving English Language Learners’ Academic Writing: A Multi-Strategy Approach to a Multi-Dimensional Challenge”. Gist Education and Learning Research Journal 14: 49-67.

MAURANEN, Anna. 1993. “Contrastive ESP Rhetoric: Metatext in Finnish-English Economics Texts”. English for Specific Purposes 12: 3-22.

MCDOUGALD, Jermaine S. 2019. “New Pedagogies for Multilingual Education”. Latin American Journal of Content & Language Integrated Learning 12 (1): 9-17. <>.

MILTON, John and Elza Shuk-ching TSANG. 1993. “A Corpus-Based Study of Logical Connectors in EFL Students Writing: Directions for Future Research”. In Pemberton, Richard and Elsa S. C. Tsang (eds.) Studies in Lexis. Hong Kong: The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.:215-246

NEARY-SUNDQUIST, Colleen. 2013. “The Use of Hedges in the Speech of ESL Learners”. ELIA 13 (1): 149-74.

ÖZBAY, Ali Şükrü, Tuncer AYDEMIR and Aleyna YILMAZ PEKTAŞ. 2019. “The Use of Adverbial Connectors in Academic Writings of Native and Non-Native Speakers”. 8th International Conference on Narrative and Language Studies Karadeniz, Trabzon, Turkey, May 2-3.

POOLE, Robert. 2016. “A Corpus-Aided Approach for the Teaching and Learning of Rhetoric in an Undergraduate Composition Course for L2 Writers”. Journal of English for Academic Purposes 21: 99-109. <>.

RIAZ, Mehvish and Raheela AKHTAR. 2019. “Formality in Academic Writing: Investigating Stylistic Competence of Undergraduate EFL Learners”. University of Wah Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities 2 (1): 1-20.

SARANI, Abdullah and Amorallah TALATI-BAGHSIAHI. 2017. “Explicit Instruction of Pragmatic Features: Its Impact on EFL Learners’ Knowledge of Hedging Devices in Academic Writing”. Issues in Language Teaching 6 (1): 29-53.

SCRIVENER, Jim. 2011. Learning Teaching. The Essential Guide to English Language Teaching. 3rd ed. London: Macmillan.

SOLÉ, Isabel, Mar MATEOS, Mariana MIRAS, Elena MARTÍN, Núria CASTELLS, Isabel CUEVAS and Marta GRÀCIA. 2005. “Lectura, escritura y adquisición de conocimientos en Educación Secundaria y Educación Universitaria”. Infancia y Aprendizaje. Journal for the Study of Education and Development 28 (3): 329-347. <>.

SOTO, Sandy T., Ma Asunción ROJAS ENCALADA, Jassenia MATAMOROS and Sara VERA-QUIÑONEZ. 2017. “What Are College Students’ Perspectives towards the Use of Synonyms for Learning English as a Foreign Language?” The Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology, December 2017: 984-989.

SUN, Yachao and Ge LAN. 2021. “Enactment of a Translingual Approach to Writing”. TESOL Quarterly 55 (2): 398-426. <>.

TAKAČ, V. P. 2008. Vocabulary Learning Strategies and Foreign Language Acquisition. Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters.

WALKINSHAW, Ian, Ben FENTON-SMITH and Pamela HUMPHREYS. 2017. “EMI Issues and Challenges in Asia-Pacific Higher Education: An Introduction”. In Fenton-Smith, Ben, Pamela Humphreys and Ian Walkinshaw (eds.) English Medium Instruction in Higher Education in Asia-Pacific. Multilingual Education, vol. 21. Springer International Publishing: 1-18. <>.

WHITTAKER, Rachel, Ana LLINARES and Anne MCCABE. 2011. “Written Discourse Development in CLIL at Secondary School”. Language Teaching Research 15 (3): 343-62. <>.

WIRANTAKA, Andi. 2016. “Paragraph Writing of Academic Texts in an EFL Context”. Journal of Foreign Language Teaching and Learning 1 (2): 34-45. <>.

YAGIZ, Oktay and Cuneyt DEMIR. 2014. “Hedging Strategies in Academic Discourse: A Comparative Analysis of Turkish Writers and Native Writers of English”. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 158: 260-268. <>.

YANG, Wenxing and Ying SUN. 2012. “The Use of Cohesive Devices in Argumentative Writing by Chinese EFL Learners at Different Proficiency Levels”. Linguistics and Education 23 (1): 31-48. <>.

YEH, Yuli, Hsien CHIN LIOU and Yi HSIN LI. 2007. “Online Synonym Materials and Concordancing for EFL College Writing”. Computer Assisted Language Learning 20 (2): 131-152. <>.




How to Cite

Martínez Hernández, A. I. (2022). Using a Free Corpus Tool for Time-efficient Feedback on English as a Foreign Language reports . Miscelánea: A Journal of English and American Studies, 66, 13–39.



ARTICLES: Language and linguistics