A Corpus Study of Modal Verbs in Korean Learners' Speech
Modality, one of the central components of English grammar, speakers’ evaluations and emotions is known to be important in verbal communication but difficult to use accurately. The purpose of the study is to investigate the pattern of modal verbs used by Korean learners in their speaking. In the present study, a comparative analysis of a learner corpus of Korean undergraduates’ speech and an American native corpus was performed. More specifically, this study explored the use of six core modal verbs in both corpora using the AntConc 3.5.8 software. The results of this study are as follows. First, it was observed the tendency of Korean L2 learners to overuse 'can' and 'will' while underusing 'could' and 'would'. Second, it was revealed that English proficiency predicted learners’ versatility in using modal verbs. Based on these findings, several reasons were discussed underlying these differences. This paper provides valuable insights for teaching of modal verbs in the English classroom.