February 2020 – Volume 23, Number 4
Corrective Feedback in Second Language Teaching and Learning
|Hossein Nassaji & Eva Kartchava (2017)
|New York: Routledge
|Pp. XV+ 189
Corrective feedback (CF) is of theoretical and empirical importance for second language acquisition (SLA) researchers and language teachers. Its role and usefulness in language learning have attracted enormous interest and debate over the years (Karim & Nassaji, 2019). Although much research has been published in journal articles and book chapters, there is not yet a single volume that synthesizes recent studies on various topics related to CF. Meanwhile, there is a clear gap between what has been found in CF research and what is being practiced in the second language (L2) classroom. Corrective Feedback in Second Language Teaching and Learning was written to integrate research findings with their implications for theory and practice in L2 classrooms.
This book is composed of four parts, spanning 11 chapters. These parts touch on oral CF (Chapters 1-3), computer-mediated CF (Chapters 4-6), written CF (Chapters 7-9), and student and teacher issues in CF (Chapters 10-11), respectively. Chapter 1, written by Rod Ellis, discusses five essential questions proposed by Hendrickson (1978): whether, when, which, and how learner errors should be corrected, along with who should correct them. Having reviewed teacher guides and research articles, Ellis offers suggestions as to how practices of oral CF should be completed in L2 classrooms. This chapter not only sets the tone for the book, but also provides readers with a basic understanding of recent oral CF research.
In Chapter 2, Masatoshi Sato examines various aspects of oral peer CF in affective, social and cognitive dimensions. Sato first compares peer interaction with other types of interaction (e.g., interaction between learners and teachers), revealing the unique feature of peer CF, during which learners are both CF receivers and providers. Sato then argues that leaners’ mindsets and the social dynamics of their interaction influence the effectiveness of peer CF. This chapter ends with suggestions for enhancing the efficacy of oral peer CF in L2 classrooms in addition to implications for future research.
Chapter 3 (by Paul Gregory Quinn and Tatsuya Nakata) centers on the timing of oral CF. Most research conducted in this area has investigated the effects of immediate CF on learners’ L2 development, while little attention has been paid to delayed CF because “there are no generally accepted theoretical explanations about how delayed CF could facilitate L2 development” (Nassaji & Kartchava, 2017, p. 36). The chapter concludes with suggestions for future research (e.g., more rigorous research design) and instruction (e.g., more communication between learners).
In Chapter 4, Trude Heift and Volker Hegelheimer examine CF in two distinct Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL) environments: Tutorial CALL, which focuses on sentence-level form instruction, and Automatic Writing Evaluation, which evaluates essays through computational methods and algorithms (e.g., Criterion, CyWrite, and Research Writing Tutor). Computer-generated CF covers accuracy-focused features to rhetorical and discourse features, providing a comprehensive evaluation of L2 writing.
Chapter 5 (by Neomy Storch) explores peer CF in the computer-mediated (CM) collaborative writing setting. L2 learners have fewer communication opportunities and less engagement with CF in the CM environment than in a face-to-face environment. They often lack confidence in providing CF and distrust the accuracy of the feedback provided by fellow L2 learners in collaborative writing (Nassaji & Kartchava, 2017, p. 66). This chapter informs instructors how to motivate learners to provide CF in the CM collaborative writing environment.
Chapter 6 (by Nicole Ziegler and Alison Mackey) covers interactional feedback in the context of synchronous computer-mediated communication (SCMC). SCMC draws learners’ attention to specific language features, provides them with more opportunities to negotiate form or meaning, and allows for comprehensible input, CF, and modified output. Despite the convenience of using SCMC, instructors should be careful about learners’ use of technological tools, such as Google Translate, which may reduce opportunities for feedback and negotiation.
Magda Tigchelaar and Charlene Polio investigate the role of language-focused peer CF in L2 writing in Chapter 7. Based on instructive practices and empirical research, the authors argue that L2 peer reviewers may be able to focus on content, language form, or both in L2 writing if they are provided with proper training. Instructors should teach L2 learners how and when to give feedback, provide a setting for them to confirm the reliability of the feedback, and help them get accustomed to collaborative writing.
Chapter 8 (Hossein Nassaji) addresses the effects of negotiated oral feedback on written errors. On the basis of reviewing theoretical underpinnings, Nassaji holds that oral negotiation of form during student-teacher interaction has the potential to prompt L2 writing accuracy. This chapter concludes with implications for classroom teaching and learning, such as how to provide effective CF in L2 writing instruction.
John Bitchener (Chapter 9) questions why some learners fail to benefit from written CF. In order to maximize the potential of written CF in L2 development, learners have to cognitively process each written CF episode with the five-stage framework (i.e., apperceived input, comprehended input, intake, integration and output as proposed by Gass, 1997, p. 3). These cognitive processing stages are considered essential for output modification. If any of these stages are not reached, learners will fail to benefit from CF provided.
By means of meta-analysis and narrative review, Shaofeng Li (Chapter 10) systematically and comprehensively synthesizes teachers’ and learners’ beliefs and attitudes about oral CF. Li provides an inductive review of this topic in four dimensions: how teachers and learners view CF in response to the five questions raised by Hendrickson (1978); whether training has an impact on their beliefs about CF; what is congruent and incongruent between teachers’ CF beliefs and their practices; and whether learners’ attitudes towards CF influences their learning.
Kimi Nakatsukasa and Shawn Loewen discuss non-verbal feedback in Chapter 11. The authors review observational and experimental studies in the field of SLA to illustrate how gestural feedback has been used in L2 classrooms, and whether such feedback has an effect on L2 learning.
Overall, Corrective Feedback in Second Language Teaching and Learning critically reviews what is known about CF in theory and empirical research, and provides suggestions for how to integrate the findings into language instruction to enhance learners’ L2 development. Even so, there are some areas which could be improved. First, some chapters seemingly deviate from each thematic part. For instance, Part III centers on written CF; however, Chapter 8, within Part III, is on negotiated oral feedback. In addition, the book presents the usefulness of CF on L2 development; however, if comparisons were made between the effectiveness of different types of CF, its pedagogical implications would be more practical.
In spite of these areas on which the book can improve, the volume deepens our understanding of CF both theoretically and empirically. The authors also offer practical suggestions for how to provide CF to facilitate learners’ L2 development in different learning contexts. This book is of great use to all who are interested in CF in L2 teaching and learning.
Gass, S. (1997). Input, interaction, and the second language learner. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Hendrickson, J. M. (1978). Error correction in foreign language teaching: Recent theory, research, and practice. The Modern Language Journal, 62(8), 387-398.
Karim, K., & Nassaji, H. (2019). The effects of written corrective feedback: A critical synthesis of past and present research. Instructed Second Language Acquisition, 3(1), 28-52.
Nassaji, H., & Kartchava, E. (2017). Corrective feedback in second language teaching and learning. New York: Routledge.
Anhui Technical College of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering, Wuhu, Anhui, P. R. China
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