Learner corpus research in Hong Kong: past, present and future

Kanglong Liu, Joyce Oiwun Cheung, Nan Zhao

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


As a field of research closely connected with second language acquisition, teaching and learning, learner corpus research (LCR) has garnered interest among language teachers and researchers in Hong Kong, where English is one of the two official languages (alongside Chinese) and also one of the chief mediums of instruction in education. In view of this unique situation, this paper provides a comprehensive overview of LCR within different teaching contexts in Hong Kong and identifies some major research trends and issues. Through this survey of the development of LCR in the region, we find that great advances have been made over the past three decades. Specifically, the object of analysis has shifted from cherry-picked, isolated textual features to operationalised parameters such as metadiscourse markers, lexical diversity, and syntactic complexity to study learners’ language output. Despite the progress that has been achieved so far, there remain a number of important questions for LCR in the context of Hong Kong. In particular, some researchers tend to broadly apply the term ‘learner corpus’ even to the language output of expert-level L2 speakers. Yet, whether this group of speakers can be treated as L2 learners, and their language output as a learner corpus, remains contested. In addition, existing learner corpora are also limited in their scope by genre, with the majority being compiled from letters and essay writings. This paper concludes with suggestions on how these limitations can be addressed in future research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-97
Number of pages19
Issue numberSupplement
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022


  • corpus linguistics
  • Hong Kong EFL
  • learner corpus research
  • second language acquisition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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