The project “What’s Hard in German?” (WHiG) seeks to systematically identify linguistic structures of German that pose a specific difficulty for the acquisition of German as a foreign language.
Conventionally, this is done by observing learner errors. However, if learners avoid difficult elements, this method fails. We claim that the relative underrepresentation of structures in learner data implies that these structures are difficult to acquire. Therefore, we propose a systematic study of underrepresented structures.
WHiG is led by two teams: Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and Bangor University.
The German side of WHiG attempts to identify learner difficulties regardless of the learner’s mother tongue (L1), i.e. problems that do not result from interferences of the learner’s L1. The methodology relies on written data from the learner corpus FALKO (fehlerannotieres Lernerkorpus, “error-annotated learner corpus”).
We aim to develop a method of retrieving the systematic underuse of particular structures in the learner data. These findings are then further evaluated by a qualitative analysis. The method offers new insights into the perceived complexity of German and the learnability of German as a foreign language. More generally, this method will help to evaluate theories of foreign language acquisition and open up new research perspectives in this field.
The British side of WHiG examines the structural acquisition process for these difficulties specific for advanced learners of German at British universities. To this effect, a learner corpus of British learners of German is being compiled and analysed qualitatively and quantitatively, triangulating the method mentioned above with further learner surveys. Insights gained from WHiG aim – in the long run – to develop didactic concepts and materials in Great Britain that particularly take into account the identified acquisition problems.
- 'What's Hard in German? Structural Difficulties, Research Approaches and Pedagogic Solutions'
- 18th-19th July 2011
- Bangor University
WHiG Workshop 2012
Go to the Annis, the online corpus platform. In the left-hand menu, select each relevant corpus. For WHiG, these are:
- FalkoEssayL1V2_0: the essay corpus of German native speakers
- FalkoEssayL2V2_0: the essay learner corpus
- for a better overview and sample searches, watch our clips and copy-paste our search queries on our Annis page
In the top part of that menu, type in your query. For example, to search for the German word "Sprache" (English "language"), type "Sprache" (with the double quotation marks). You can also click on the "Tutorial" button for further query options.
At the bottom of the left-hand menu, select how many words you want to have displayed before your queried item in "Context Left". Similarly, "Context Right" displays the indicated amount of words after the queried item. You can either have the results displayed in ANNIS by pressing the "Show Result" button or you can press the "Export" button and select more printer-friendly formats.
Corpora: Search Results
The results are displayed on the right-hand side of the screen. Please allow some time for every feature to be loaded. For each search result, there are 6 expand-collapse buttons: the first 5 display the multi-layered annotations, such as lemma, part-of-speech ("pos"), or target hypotheses ("ZH1" and "ZH2). The sixth expand-collapse button shows the entire text ("Volltext") written by the student.
Downloads for WHiG partner universities (1-page A4 PDFs)
July 2009 - June 2012
Prof. Anke Lüdeling, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin
Dr Astrid Ensslin, Bangor University
Marc Reznicek, Chan Jia Wei
Dr Cedric Krummes
Our research partner
Dr. Sylvia Jaworska (Queen Mary, University of London) for phraseology, formulaic sequences, and corpus-based learning and teaching.
Working with our corpus data
Researchers can request the Falko (L1) and WHiG (L2) corpora: fill out our license and consent form and return it via post, email or fax. We will then send you the files via email.
- Aberystwyth University, Department of European Languages
- Bangor University, School of Modern Languages
- Bristol University, Department of German
- Cambridge University, Department of German and Dutch
- University College London, Department of German
- Lancaster University, Department of European Languages and Cultures
- University of Leeds, Department of German, Russian and Slavonic Studies
- Queen Mary, University of London, School of Languages, Linguistics and Film
- University of Sheffield, Department of Germanic Studies
Dr Astrid Ensslin
'What's Hard in German' Project
School of Creative Studies and Media
Bangor, Gwynedd LL57 2DG
Conference papers and posters
- Krummes, Cedric, Marc Reznicek, Chan Jia Wei, Hagen Hirschmann, Thomas Krause, Amir Zeldes, Astrid Ensslin & Anke Lüdeling (2010) '"What’s Hard in German?": Touching the Void of Over- and Underuse', paper given at the Forum for Germanic Language Studies Conference, Gregynog/Aberystwyth, January 8-9, 2010.
- Reznicek, Marc, Cedric Krummes, Hagen Hirschmann, Anke Lüdeling, Astrid Ensslin, Jia Wei Chan, Amir Zeldes, Thomas Krause and Florian Zipser (2010) '"Dass wenn man etwas will, muss man dafür arbeiten“- Zielhypothesen im Lernerkorpus Falko', poster given at 31. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Sprachwissenschaft, Berlin, February 25, 2010.
- Astrid Ensslin, Cedric Krummes, Marc Reznicek, Anke Lüdeling (2010) 'How to Spot Error and Compare Learners of German: the Falko and WHiG Projects, paper given at the 73rd conference of the Association for German Studies in Great Britain and Ireland, Reading, March 29-31.
- Sylvia Jaworska, Cedric Krummes & Astrid Ensslin (2011). 'Auf der einen Hand und auf die andere Seite: Corpus Evidence of Formulaic Sequences in Essays by Advanced Learners of German', paper given at the 74th conference of the Association for German Studies in Great Britain and Ireland, London, April 13-15. (Slides and Handout)
- Cedric Krummes, Sylvia Jaworska & Astrid Ensslin (2011). 'The Use of Discourse-Structuring Sequences by Advanced Learners of German: Corpus-Driven Approaches', poster given at Corpus Linguistics 2011, Birmingham University, July 20-22 2011.
- Cedric Krummes, Sylvia Jaworska & Astrid Ensslin (2011) 'Formulaic sequences in German essays: Comparing L1 with L2 data', paper given at Learner Corpus Research 2011, Louvain, 15-17 September 2011. (handout)
- Cedric Krummes & Astrid Ensslin (2012). 'Creating Learning and Teaching Materials on Lexical Bundles and Collocations for German Essay Writing: Two Corpus Approaches', paper given at the 5th international FLaRN conference, Tilburg University, 28-30 March 2012. (handout)
- Krummes, Cedric (2010) 'WHiG: Finding out what's hard in German at the University of Leeds', departmental research seminar, University of Leeds, March 11, 2010.
- Krummes, Cedric (2011) 'Mining Meinung: WHiG’s Corpus Evidence of German Learner Data', departmental research seminar, Lancaster University, February 03, 2011.
- Krummes, Cedric & Ensslin, Astrid (2011) 'From Learner Essays
to Textbook Examples:
What's Hard in German?', IntelliText Workshop, University of Leeds, March 11, 2011.
- Ensslin, Astrid, Cedric Krummes and Sylvia Jaworska (2011) 'What's Hard in German? Corpus Evidence of Formulaicity in Advanced British Learners of German', Bilingualism Research Seminar, Bangor University, May 23, 2011.
- Ensslin, Astrid (2011) 'What's Hard in German? A Learner Corpus Methodology for Identifying Structural Difficulties', Aston Corpus Summer School, August 5, 2011.
- Krummes, Cedric & Astrid Ensslin (2012) 'Lernersprache zu DaF-Materialien:die Korpora WHiG und Falko', plenary session, DAAD Conference, Cumberland Lodge, Windsor Great Park, June 2012.
WHiG Impact: Hands-on workshops & Learning and teaching materials on how to write German essays
- Ensslin, Astrid (2011) What's Hard in German? Structural Difficulties, Research Approaches and Pedagogic Solutions, WHiG Symposium, July 19, 2011.
- Krummes, Cedric (2011) WHiG Essay-Writing Workshop, University of Leeds, October 05, 2011. Main Handout, Activities, Slides.
- Krummes, Cedric (2011) Writing in German, Bangor University, November 04, 2011.
- Krummes, Cedric (2012) 5 Keywords in German Essay-Writing. Also available as a TES teaching resource.