ESL teachers’ use of corrective feedback and its effect on learners’ uptake

Abstract

It has long been assumed within traditional pedagogical practice that error feedback is necessary for learners to progress in their acquisition and use of second language (L2) in more target-like ways. Providing feedback in class is not a simple or clear-cut process as there are many different types of feedback and each type can have a specific effect on learners’ errors. This observational study addressed the following issues with regard to corrective feedback and learner errors: (1) the effectiveness of different types of interactional feedback, (2) the types of feedback that lead to learners’ successful uptake, and (3) the categories of errors (e.g., phonological, grammatical, lexical) native English teachers prefer to provide feedback on. Two native English teachers and twenty-eight English as a Second Language (ESL) students at two levels of proficiency, beginners and intermediate, were observed during class. Teacher-student and student-student interactions were recorded during the lesson and individual teacher interviews were carried out after the class observations. The analysis of the data revealed the most frequent types of interactional feedback with intermediate learners were explicit correction followed by metalinguistic clues, clarification requests and recasts. With the beginner students, the most frequently used feedback type was explicit correction, followed by clarification requests, and recasts. This study also showed that repetition and metalinguistic feedback always led to successful uptake. Finally, teachers preferred to correct mostly phonological errors. These results have implications for ESL teachers and teacher educators.

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