Author ORCID Identifier

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Applied Linguistics and English as a Second Language

First Advisor

Sara T. Cushing

Second Advisor

Stephanie Lindemann

Third Advisor

Viviana Cortes

Fourth Advisor

Linda Harklau


Corpus linguistics studies on academic discourse provide valuable insights on linguistic patterns between form, meaning, and functions of the language used in natural academic discourses. Among those, lectures have been one of the most studied spoken academic genres, especially from a corpus linguistics perspective (e.g., Deroey, 2012; Deroey & Taverniers, 2012; Chang, 2012). These studies especially contribute to the training and inclusion process of non-native English-speaking participants in English-dominant academic discourses. However, there is a paucity of discussion linking corpus linguistics findings to materials or methods for training non-native speaking instructors. Besides, although corpus-informed language features have started to emerge as potential constructs in language testing of non-native speaking instructors (e.g., Römer, 2017), no empirical evidence has shown the relationship between the linguistic features discussed in corpus studies of academic lectures and the perceived quality of those lectures. This issue becomes increasingly pertinent to the population of international teaching assistants (ITAs), whose academic trajectories are dependent on ITA placement tests that assess how they use language to teach.

Therefore, study 1 in this dissertation presents a systematic review of corpus studies on academic lectures in the past decades, revealing three main types of linguistic units employed in these analyses. This review serves as a foundation to the following empirical studies. Study 2 , which validates the use of frequency-based functional units as an assessment construct in evaluating international teaching assistants' test performances, especially in tasks where they perform a teaching demonstration of an academic lecture. reports a quantitative analysis that investigates the relationship between language proficiency, functional language use, and overall perceived teaching effectiveness. The third empirical study investigates the relationship between ITAs' functional language use and students' attitudes towards the ITAs. This study is motivated by sociolinguistics studies on language attitudes. The results of this dissertation facilitate a better understanding of the use of functional language in lectures and provide insights on directions for future corpus linguistics research on academic lectures to improve assessment and training of non-native instructors.


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