Simon Smith

Senior Lecturer in Academic EnglishSimon Smith

School of Humanities
Faculty of Arts and Humanities
Coventry University
Priory Street

Telephone: 02476 887643


I am one of an increasing number of published, research-active corpus linguists who consider themselves first and foremost language teachers. I have worked in universities in Taiwan and mainland China for ten years before coming to Coventry.
My research is on the use of corpora (big computer databases of authentic language) for language teaching and learning. Through the use of large samples of real language in use, students are able to learn autonomously, discovering linguistic patterns for themselves, rather than memorising grammar patterns and vocabulary presented by a teacher. Recent published work has focused on both Chinese and English learning.
Managing the research-teaching balance is an ongoing challenge. I devise and adapt resources in a way that inspires students to work on their English, and (I believe) create a relaxed and enjoyable classroom atmosphere that is conducive to learning. My students know the purpose of each lesson, are acquiring a variety of linguistic and analytical skills, and are moving towards a more holistic view of their learning, understanding the connections between different aspects of their study experience.
I make extensive use of technology in my teaching. Apart from corpora, I am interested in webquests, interactive language lab activities, and virtual learning environments (VLE) such as Moodle.

• Ph.D., Speech engineering, Birmingham University
• M.Sc., Computational linguistics, UMIST
• B.A (Hons), Chinese and Linguistics, University of Leeds

Research Interests:
• Computational linguistics
• English for Academic Purposes (EAP)
• Chinese teaching and learning
• Corpora in language teaching and learning
• Corpus query tools
• Computer assisted language learning (CALL)
• Data-driven language learning (DDL)

Selected Outputs:
• Smith, S. (2011) 'Learner Construction of Corpora for General English in Taiwan'. Computer Assisted Language Learning 24 (4), 291-316
• Smith, S. (2011) 'Corpus-based tasks for learning Chinese: a data-driven approach'. Proceedings of the Asian Conference on Technology in the Classroom, 'Asian Conference on Technology in the Classroom'. Held Jun 2011 in Osaka, Japan 48-59
• Smith, S., Avinesh, P.V.S., and Kilgarriff, A. (2010) 'Gap-fill tests for language learners: Corpus-Driven Item Generation'. Proceedings of the 2010 ICON Conference, 'ICON Conference'. Held Dec 2010 in Kharagpur, India
• Smith, S., Kilgarriff, A., Wen-Liang, G., Sommers, S., Guang-Zhong, W. (2009) 'Automatic Multiple Choice Gap-fill Generation for English Proficiency Testing'. In Kao, T.E., and Lin, Y.F. A new look at language teaching and testing: English as subject and vehicle, 'LTTC conference'. Held 2009 in Taipei. 139-154
• Smith, S., Sommers, S., and Kilgarriff, A. (2008) 'Learning words right with the Sketch Engine: Meaningful lexical acquisition from corpora and the web'. CamTESOL conference on English language teaching: Selected papers 4, 'CamTESOL conference on English language teaching'. Held 2008 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. 28-42
• Smith, S., Chen, A., and Kilgarriff, A. (2008) 'A corpus query tool for SLA: learning Mandarin with the help of Sketch Engine'. In Lewandowska-Tomaszczyk, B. (ed.) Corpus Linguistics, Computer Tools, and Applications - State of the Art, 'PALC 2007'. Held 2007 in Lodz, Poland. Peter Lang, 673-686
• Smith, S., Huang, C-R., Kilgarriff, A., and Chen, M-R. (2007) 'Corpora for SLA: using Sketch Engine to learn Chinese and English'. Proceedings of the 2007 Conference and Workshop on TEFL and Applied Linguistics, '2007 Conference and Workshop on TEFL and Applied Linguistics'. Held 2007 in Taoyuan, Taiwan. 430-436
• Smith, S., Huang, C-R., Kilgarriff, A., Wu, Y., and Lin, L-C. (2006) 'Sketch Engine: a sense discrimination engine for English, Chinese and other languages'. Proceedings of the 2006 Conference and Workshop on TEFL and Applied Linguistics, '2006 Conference and Workshop on TEFL and Applied Linguistics'. Held 2006 in Taoyuan, Taiwan.
• Wu, Y., Smith, S., and Huang, C-R. (2005) 'How to express ‘express’-Pedagogical reflections from web resources'. Proceedings of the 2005 Conference and Workshop on TEFL and Applied Linguistics, '2005 Conference and Workshop on TEFL and Applied Linguistics'. Held 2005 in Taoyuan, Taiwan. 433-440
• Smith, S., and Russell, M. (2001) 'Determining query types for information access'. Proceedings of Corpus Linguistics, 'Corpus Linguistics 2001'. Held 30 Mar-02 Apr 2001 in Lancaster, UK. 562-570

Research Students:
PhD:  1 current student
MSc/MA by research:  1 current student

Selected Professional Activities:
• Co-chair of Corpus Technologies and Applied Linguistics Conference, Suzhou (CTAL-2012)
• Co-editor of Taiwan Journal of English for Specific Purposes
• Peer reviewer for various publications

• Academic English to international students
• Mandarin Chinese on the Add+Vantage scheme


Coventry University No.1 Modern University No.1 Modern University in the Midlands
Coventry University awarded TEF GOLD Teaching Excellence Framework
University of the year shortlisted
QS Five Star Rating 2020
Coventry City of Culture 2021