The aim of this paper is to show the results of a corpus-based analysis of the way modality is presented in four English textbooks for the First Certificate Exam (FCE): 1) Duckworth M and Gude K 1999 Countdown to First Certificate, Oxford: Oxford University Press 2) Evans V and Dooley J 1998 Mission – Coursebook 1. Newbury, U.K.: Express Publishing 3) Evans V and Dooley J 1998 Mission – Coursebook 2. Newbury, U.K.: Express Publishing 4) Moutsou E and Parker S 1998 Plus – First Certificate. London, U.K.: MM Publications In particular, this study is concerned with the occurrence of four core modal verbs: can, could, may and might, in the dialogues provided as oral input for learners of English as a foreign language, and the main objective of this research is to observe to what extent teaching materials and pedagogic grammars are in line with updated linguistic studies. The reason why textbooks for the FCE were selected for this research is that a more accurate presentation of modality can be expected in these language courses, given that the language level of the learners they are addressed to is supposed to be fairly high . The main focus of this research is the oral language, and an ad hoc corpus was created by selecting all the dialogues of the coursebooks that contained any of the four modal verbs mentioned above. The software used to access this corpus is Concordance 3.0 for Microsoft Windows . The analysis of the corpus took into consideration not only the number of occurrences and the frequency of each of the four modal verbs selected for this study, but also the different meanings (epistemic, deontic and dynamic) they took on in different communicative contexts. Then, taking into account the collocations of the items found in the corpus, it was possible to establish whether the use of the core modal verbs can, could, may and might reflected their actual use in authentic communication or rather, if the examples given in the textbooks had been created to present a set of rather stereotyped grammar structures. Finally, to support the results of this research with further evidence, the grammar sections contained in the four FCE textbooks mentioned previously were compared to recent theoretical works on modality, to verify to what extent pedagogic grammars are consistent with advanced academic metalinguistic descriptions.
Grazzi, E. (2007). A corpus-based analysis of modality in four English textbooks for the First Certificate Exam. In MARIE HEDIARD (a cura di), LINGUISTICA DEI CORPORA. STRUMENTI E APPLICAZIONI (pp. 395-417). CASSINO : Edizioni dell'Università degli studi di Cassino.