Research Seminars

Research seminars

‘I know it is wright but I still don't like it’: Exploring children’s writing with the APU Corpus (1979-1988)

Victorina González-Díaz (University of Liverpool)

In educational linguistics, corpus-based research on children’s writing has been spearheaded by Biber and associates in America since the early 1990s (Reppen 1994, 2004; Biber et al. 2002). In the UK, however, the availability of corpora for such investigations is still very limited (cf. The Lancaster Corpus of Children’s Writing; The Oxford Children’s Corpus of Reading and Writing; see also Sealey and Thompson 2004, 2006).

The focus of this paper is twofold. Firstly, it will introduce the contents and the structure of the APU Writing and Reading Corpus 1979-1988; the first historical corpus of schoolchildren’s materials Secondly, it will showcase the potential of the corpus for genre-based teaching and research. The case-study will focus on argumentative writing across children’s levels of attainment.


Biber, Douglas, Randi Reppen & Susan Conrad. 2002. Developing linguistic literacy: perspectives from corpus linguistics and multi-dimensional analysis. Journal of Child Language 29(2): 458-62.

Reppen, Randi. 1994. Variation in elementary student language: A multidimensional perspective. PhD dissertation, Northern Arizona University. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses.

Reppen, Randi. 2004. Academic language: an exploration of university classroom and textbook language. In Ulla Connor & Thomas A. Upton (eds.), Discourse in the professions, 65-86. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Sealey, Alison & Paul Thompson. 2004. 'What do you call the dull words?' Primary school children using corpus based approaches to learn about language. English in Education 38(1), 80-91.

Sealey, Alison & Paul Thompson. 2006. 'Nice things get said': Corpus evidence and the National Literacy Strategy. Literacy 40(1), 22-8.