Academic journal article International Journal of English Studies

Feedback in Second Language Writing: An Introduction

Academic journal article International Journal of English Studies

Feedback in Second Language Writing: An Introduction

Article excerpt


The impetus for this volume came from the Symposium of Second Language Writing which was held in May 2010 in Murcia. It was clear from the proposals received for that forum that many presenters were interested in examining the area of feedback in second language writing from different angles. Moreover, in the last 3 years, over 85% of the manuscripts received by the Journal of Second Language Writing have dealt with the topic of feedback in writing, whether by teachers, supervisors, computers or classmates. Therefore, as conveners of a colloquium on the topic of feedback, we proposed putting together a special volume of the IJES on Feedback in Second Language Writing.

On the eve of the SSLW inauguration, a heated discussion broke out over the dinner table about the provision of feedback. Researchers, some of whom were also writing teachers, and who acted differently as far as written corrective feedback (WCF henceforth) was concerned, vehemently disagreed with one another as to the best way to help their own students. What is it about this area that evokes such strong reactions from normally cool academics?

Feedback in writing -and more specifically error correction, or WCF- is a crossroads at which many different interests converge: "The study of oral and written CF constitutes an area where theory and practice interface" (Ellis, 2010, p. 336). Moreover, it is an area that directly concerns teachers-often rather reluctant to accept research findings-as much as researchers. The interests of second language writing researchers overlap at this point with those of second language acquisition scholars. PhD supervisors are as interested in its effects as primary school teachers are. Teachers and researchers in Europe and Asia as well as in America and Australia struggle to elucidate the factors that influence corrective feedback and the relationship between this feedback and learning to write. Large numbers of erudite articles have been devoted to considering the topic from many different angles: the sources of feedback, the medium used, the effects of differences in L2 proficiency, the influence of prior experiences, the differential effects of varying the type of feedback provided and the specific object of feedback, whether language, organization or rhetoric and content.

The present volume is a further attempt to contribute to the research in the field and to do so from different perspectives. On the one hand, one of the aims of the monograph is to critically reflect on what we can learn from the available research on error correction, as well as to find out ways of moving forward in theory, research and pedagogy. This is what Catherine van Beuningen and Neomy Storch have attempted in their respective contributions. A second aim of this publication is to make visible a number of insights from empirical studies carried out in a variety of contexts, which either focus on only partially explored areas or are intended as attempts to answer the still open questions in the field. Thus, John Bitchener, Helen Basturkmen and Martin East explore supervisor feedback as an integral part of thesis and dissertation writing; Khaled El Ebyary and Scott Windeatt analyze the impact of computer-based feedback on L2 writing; Norman Evans, K. James Hartshorn and Emily Allen Tuioti delve into the issue of how teachers perceive their use of corrective feedback; JingJing Ma looks at peer response processes as well as some factors bearing on them; and Noelia Martínez Esteban and Julio Roca de Larios investigate the use of model texts as a feedback technique in individual and collaborative writing.


Given the cumulative nature of scientific research, taking stock of what has been done in any line of inquiry is a necessary precondition for researchers to know about what remains to be done (Norris & Ortega, 2006). In this respect, substantial accounts have been undertaken within the L2 written feedback literature which, to a greater or lesser extent, have adopted a critical stance towards the research designs of the studies reviewed (e. …

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