One-to-one and Group Feedback in the L2 Writing Classroom: Benefits and Classroom Implementation

Introduction

With the introduction of task-based approaches to language learning and teaching, collaborative language learning, student-centered instruction, and learner autonomy in the last 15 years or so, pair and group work have become central to the language classroom in many L2 learning/ teaching contexts around the world (see Edwards & Willis, 2005; Ellis, 2003; McDonough, 2004; Skehan, 2003; Willis, 1996). For instance, McDonough, (2004, p. 208), commenting on the multiple benefits of pair and group work for L2 learning, states that:

Pair and small group activities provide learners with more time to speak the target language than teacher-fronted activities, promote learner autonomy and self-directed learning, and give instructors opportunities to work with individual learners. In addition, learners may feel less anxious and more confident when interacting with peers during pair or small group activities than during whole-class discussions.

In the L2 writing classroom as well, pair and small group work is increasingly occupying centerstage in L2 writing research and pedagogy. One of the major aspects of pair and small group work in the L2 writing classroom that has gained increasing attention in L2 writing research and instruction is peer feedback, defined as students’ critiquing and providing feedback on one another’s writing (Berg, 1999; Matsuda, 2003; Rollinson, 2005).

In this paper, I will first give an overview of the main benefits of peer feedback in the L2 writing classroom. After that, I will identify the two main peer feedback techniques employed in the classroom, then describe with illustrative examples the procedures for implementing each technique, and conclude the paper with ways for promoting peer feedback in the L2 writing classroom.

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