COCA for ESL students
I think that COCA is a very useful tool that could help ESL/EFL students to learn vocabulary. It could also make vocabulary and collocations teaching easier for an ESL teacher. I heard about this tool a year ago but did not dare to use it until our last class. I was very exited to learn how to use this collocations database, though it seems that the complexity of it could be difficult to master in a short period of time. When I tried it myself in class, I realized that it was not as easy as it seemed based on the demonstration.
The fact that this is an on-line database that one could “play” with in order to produce different combinations of collocating words, could be very attractive for our computer savvy tutees. For example, in my native language, Russian, a word collocating with “debate” would also be "hot” (not “heated”), and besides, it would be mostly used in its plural form (“hot debates”). So for a native Russian low intermediate ESL student, COCA would be a great opportunity to check if he/she translates literally from his native language into English. Also, a lesson, attempting to teach collocations with the aid of COCA, could be a great hit with our mostly engineering ESL students. However, I would not feel comfortable teaching something that I still don’t know how to use myself. And it seems to me that one could spend almost an unlimited time trying to figure this thing out.