August 11, 2000 (Preliminary Report)

Online Business Letter Corpus KWIC Concordancer and
an Experiment in Data-driven Learning/Writing
(Preliminary Report)

Yasumasa Someya

A paper presented at the 3rd ABC (Association for Business Communication)
 International Conference held at Doshisha University, Kyoto, Japan
August 9, 2000
Room 4 (Multimedia Room), 1:30 p.m.


The experiment was conducted for a period of three months between May and July, 2000, to empirically prove the effectiveness of the Online Business Letter Corpus KWIC Concordancer (BLC Concordancer) as a writing tool for non-native learners/users of English for business purposes. The hypothesis was that use of the BLC Concordance in the writing process will significantly reduce the number of linguistic surface errors and thereby improve the overall quality of the messages they write. A total of 40 subjects consisting of Japanese business people were divided into two groups, Control Group and Experiment Group. They were given the same letter-writing assignments, Tests 1 through 7, and errors they made in two most problematic areas for non-native writers of English, i.e., articles and prepositions, were counted and their numbers compared. In writing the assignments (except Test 1), the Experiment Group was specifically instructed to make full use of the BLC Concordancer, while the Control Group wrote all the assignments without using it. It was found that the average numbers of errors the Experiment Group made in Tests 2 through 7 were significantly lower than those made by the Control Group, while no significant difference was observed in the average numbers of errors the two groups made in Test 1. This result can only be attributed to the main controlling factor of the experiment, i.e., the use of the BLC Concordancer, thus confirming the initial hypothesis that the BLC Concordancer -- and the data-driven writing/learning methodology associated with it -- is in fact very effective in reducing some of the most prominent and recurring errors found in most "interlanguage" written messages.

Keywords: English for Business Purposes, Business Writing, Data-driven Writing, BLC Concordancer

 1.  Purpose of the Experiment
 2.  Working Hypothesis
 3.  Basic Design of the Experiment
 4.  Participants
 5.  Duration of the Experiment, Data Collection and Types of Feedback
 6.  Assignments
 7.  Types of Errors Counted
 8.  The BLC Concordancer
 9.   Results and Discussion
10.  Conclusion and Final Remarks

(c) 2000 Someya Yasumasa