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With the advancement of technology, it has become quite handy to collect a database of texts selected from transcribed speech from real-life formal and informal speech recordings and radio-broadcasts, not to mention written publications, e.g. fiction and non-fiction books, newspapers, magazines, letters, ads and brochures, that can be easily surfed via concordancers, computer programs designed for that purpose. There are several applications for corpora in ELT.  

Teachers can:

Create lists of language patterns for the sake of illustration, e.g. a list of irregular verbs ordered according to the frequency of occurrence.

Create test items instead of artificial unnatural ones for patterns taught.

Justify particular linguistic intuitions by authentic evidence.  

Clarify stylistic problems in writing by illustrations.

Learners can:

 Make lexico-grammatical descriptions and elicit linguistic rules from corpora data rather than being told by a teacher or textbook.

Form a hypothesis on a language point; refer to corpus evidence to test it and look for any counter-example; and refine the rule to take into account the new evidence.

Explore idioms & collocations by looking at examples in context.                 

Learn vocabulary in context through extensive reading, not in vocabulary lists.

Learn there are no 'correct' answers about language.