Investigating Chinese learner corpus research and learner corpora: Main features, critical issues and future pathways

  • Alessia Iurato Ca' Foscari University of Venice


This article investigates the current state of Chinese Learner Corpus Research (CLCR) and outlines its main features and critical issues. Thirty years have passed since the compilation of the first Chinese learner corpus. Since then, the number of Chinese learner corpus projects has considerably increased in China and outside China, leading to a parallel growth in L2 Chinese studies as well. Despite the increasingly wide-ranging accessibility of L2 Chinese learner corpora and achievements in CLCR, there are no research which analyze the current state of this expanding field, defining its key features and gaps. This study therefore aims to fill this lack in the literature and sheds light on the learner-corpus based research in the Chinese context. The study also aims to provide an updated and useful reference of current trends and limitations in CLCR to help scholars better guide future research in order to address current gaps in the field. First, the paper introduces origins, development, and current trends in CLCR; main features and limits of learner corpus design, analysis, and annotation in CLCR are also analyzed. Second, the paper provides an overview of existing L2 Chinese learner corpora, by grouping them according to mode (written, spoken and multimodal) and size (large-scale and small-scale). Finally, the article directs attention toward challenges in this field, concluding with future directions for CLCR and its intersections with Second Language Acquisition (SLA) to support L2 Chinese teaching and learning.


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Author Biography

Alessia Iurato, Ca' Foscari University of Venice

Alessia Iurato is a PhD Candidate in Chinese Linguistics and Learner Corpus Linguistics. She is attending a Joint Doctoral Program between the Department of Asian and North-African studies at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice and the Faculty of Linguistics and Literature at Universität Bremen, Germany. She is currently writing her PhD dissertation titled “The Acquisition of the Chinese 是shì…de cleft construction by L1 Italian learners: Triangulating corpus and experimental data”. She received the “2022 HICCS Graduate Student Award” for the best research paper from the scientific committee of the Hawai’i International Conference on Chinese Studies at University of Hawa’i, Mānoa. Iurato is a member of the research project of national interest 2020 (PRIN 2020), allocated by MUR (Italian Ministry of University and Research), titled “The acquisition of the resultative compounds in Chinese: Combining learner corpus and experimental data”. Her research interests include Chinese as a second language acquisition, learner corpus linguistics, Chinese linguistics, syntax and pragmatics.

Alessia Iurato can be reached at: