Designing an Online Course to Teach Anaphora in Foreign Languages

Proceedings of ‏The 3rd International Conference on Teaching, Learning and Education

Year: 2021


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Designing an Online Course to Teach Anaphora in Foreign Languages

Amanda Maraschin Bruscato, Jorge Baptista



This paper presents the designing of an online course to teach anaphora in English and Spanish as foreign languages. Anaphora is a discursive mechanism that contributes to textual cohesion. Instead of repeating the same nouns in their texts, speakers can use different pronouns or even ellipsis to improve communication. Each language has its own anaphoric system, which can be very distinct from null-subject languages, such as Spanish, to non-null-subject languages, such as English. Focusing on this topic, a two-week course was designed and taught in 2020 at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (Brazil) and at the University of Algarve (Portugal) to language undergraduate students. The first lesson was an introduction to the concepts of cohesion, anaphora, and the pronominal system in the target language. These topics were further explained in the second lesson, which was also about ambiguity. The activities included: educational videos; tools for corpus analysis and coreference resolution; discussion forums; short answer, matching, and multiple-choice exercises; hyperlinks to more videos, texts, and exercises. Students’ knowledge of anaphora was assessed in a pre-test and in three post-tests (discussed in another article), and the results were compared between experimental and control groups. The teaching module improved learners’ comprehension of written texts and could be adapted to teach anaphora in other languages.

Keywords: anaphora resolution, EFL, e-learning, SFL, textual cohesion.