QU Launches Bilingual Argumentative Writing Corpus

Doha: Qatar University, in partnership with the University of Exeter (UoE) in the UK and Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU) in Qatar, announced the launch of the Qatari Corpus of Argumentative Writing.

This innovative research project is a part of Qatar’s National Vision 2030, which emphasizes human development. This three-year National Priorities Research Program (NPRP), funded by the Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF) from 2019 to 2022, has culminated in a comprehensive bilingual writing corpus. The Qatari Corpus of Argumentative Writing focuses on the argumentative writing skills of Qatari university students in their first language (L1) Arabic and second language (L2) English.

The primary goals of this groundbreaking project were twofold. First, to build the Qatari Corpus of Argumentative Writing and analyze students’ use of metadiscourse and voice markers in both L1 Arabic and L2 English. Secondly, to understand students’ metalinguistic awareness of their usage of these rhetorical devices. Metadiscou
rse and voice markers refer to the linguistic methods writers use to project themselves into their writing, signal their stance, and engage readers.

By examining texts from a diverse academic background, the corpus provides rich insights into the bilingual writing process, revealing patterns in language use. This invaluable resource aids researchers, L1 Arabic and L2 English educators, and corpus linguists in informing teaching methods and cross-linguistic studies in a bilingual environment.

The project involved experts from QU, the University of Exeter (UoE) in the UK, and HBKU in Qatar. This project was led by Dr. Abdelhamid Ahmed, an Assistant Professor in English Language Education at the Core Curriculum Program at QU. The Qatari Corpus of Argumentative Writing was developed in partnership with an expert team comprising Prof. Debra Myhill, Professor Emerita of Language and Literacy Education, and Dr. Esmaeel Abdollahzadeh, Senior Lecturer in Language Education from the School of Education at UoE. Additi
onally, Dr. Wajdi Zaghouani, an Associate Professor in Digital Humanities at HBKU, contributed his expertise.

The Qatari Corpus of Argumentative Writing consists of approximately 200,000 tokens of argumentative writing by Qatari university students in L1 Arabic and L2 English. The corpus contains 195 argumentative essays in L1 Arabic and 195 in L2 English, written by the same group of students (159 females and 36 males) on diverse topics. The students, native Arabic speakers proficient in English as a second language, provide a unique bilingual data set.

The corpus is divided into Arabic and English sections, with part-of-speech (POS) annotated files in UTF-8 encoded text format. Metadata in CSV format includes information about the students (gender, major, first and second languages) and the essays (text serial numbers, word limits, genre, writing date, time spent, and location). Statistical analyses were applied to examine the corpus, making it a valuable repository for researchers and educators of first
and second language writing.

Building the Qatari Corpus of Argumentative Writing as a learner corpus has significant implications for language education and research. It aids in understanding the language learning process by analyzing learner errors and usage patterns, helping identify common challenges students face. Researchers and educators can use this corpus to develop more effective teaching materials tailored to the specific needs of Qatari university students. Additionally, the corpus enables the evaluation of language teaching methods and materials, fostering linguistic competence and providing insights into second language learners’ writing, pragmatics, and interlanguage development.

The Qatari Corpus of Argumentative Writing provides a variety of opportunities for future research. These include contrastive rhetoric studies to understand the rhetorical and linguistic differences in Arabic and English argumentative writing, researching L1 Arabic and L2 English writing development among Arabic-speak
ing students, and analyzing language transfer effects on argumentative writing. It can also inform writing pedagogy for Arabic-speaking students and aid cross-linguistic research, examining various linguistic aspects and their impact on argumentative writing in both languages.

In conclusion, the Qatari Corpus of Argumentative Writing represents a significant advancement in language education and bilingual corpus research. It aligns with Qatar’s National Vision 2030 by enhancing human development and providing a unique, dual-language resource for understanding the intricacies of bilingual argumentative writing. The collaborative efforts of Qatar University, the University of Exeter, and Hamad Bin Khalifa University have resulted in a comprehensive corpus that opens new avenues for linguistic research, teaching methodology refinement, and cross-cultural communication enhancement. With its rich data set, the corpus is a substantial contribution to the academic and practical aspects of language learning and teac
hing in a global context.

Source: Qatar News Agency

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