Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

Form Negotiation: Does It Enhance the Effects of Direct Corrective Feedback on L2 Writing?

Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

Form Negotiation: Does It Enhance the Effects of Direct Corrective Feedback on L2 Writing?

Article excerpt


This paper presents the findings of a quasi-experimental study designed to examine the effects of direct written corrective feedback (DWCF) with and without meta-linguistic negotiation on the definite article the and the indefinite article a/an in the written mode of L2 production. To investigate such effects, 88 Azari learners of English were assigned to an experimental group (n = 30), a contrast group (n = 28), and a control group (n = 30). The three participating groups performed an error correction task, a story rewriting task, and a picture description task as the pre-test. No statistically significant difference was observed among the three participating groups in terms of the correct use of the forms in focus (F = .15, p = .85). The erroneous use of the forms in focus for the experimental group was negotiated in addition to DWCF provided, the erroneous use of the forms in focus was corrected through DWCF for the contrast group, and the control group received some comments on the quality of their writings. Analyses run on the data collected showed that the experimental group outperformed both the contrast group and the control group and the contrast group in turn outperformed the control group.

KEY WORDS: direct written corrective feedback, meta-linguistic negotiation, L2 writing

1. Background

There is a growing consensus of opinion that some form-focused instruction has to be exercised along with meaning-oriented materials to ensure that some healthy balance will be struck between form and meaning. Roughly speaking, the paradigm is in the process of shifting towards including form-focused instruction in classroom settings in both oral and written modes of L2 production. As it has already been established, "language focus in L2 writing should be seen within a framework of pedagogic options, including minimally differing pedagogic purposes, writer goals and writing tasks, in relation to writer characteristics and context" (Bruton, 2009, p. 600).

Viewed within form-focused instruction framework, student writers would need some language focus on their writing for converting some new forms to "intake or long-term uptake" (Hedgcock, 2005). Although expert intervention is judged to be of paramount importance for student writers (e.g., Ferris, 2003, 2010; Sheen, 2007), some doubts have already been voiced regarding the efficacy of grammar correction in L2 writing (Truscott, 1996, 2007). The counterarguments made by Truscott (1 996, 1 999, 2004) boldly questioned the effects of "red pen" on L2 development. Urging L2 practitioners to abandon corrective feedback (CF), he judged it to be of negligible effect and even harmful. Such a strong criticism leveled at CF seems to have dismissed the enthusiasm students have expressed for error correction and the empirical evidence obtained for its benefit. Broadly viewed, CF on L2 writing might be focused or unfocused. In the former, the teacher addresses only one single linguistic feature. In the latter, however, the teacher targets "a wide range of errors in each piece of students' written texts" (Sheen, Wright, & Moldawa, 2009, p. 559). Whether focused or unfocused, CF directly shows the exact location of the error in the written output of L2 learners and at the same time provides learners with the correct form of the grammatical point marked as incorrect. Indirect CF, which has been reported to be favored by teachers and L2 writing researchers (e.g., Ferris & Hedgcock, 2005), indicates the exact location of errors and urges students to revise their writing making corrections required on thenown. In correcting errors committed by L2 writers, teachers might go even beyond direct CF and provide the writers with meta-linguistic explanations as well. Such an elaboration, which provides "learners with some form of explicit comment about the nature of the errors they have made" (Ellis, 2008, p. 4), would lead to understanding which implies "recognition of a general principle, rule, or pattern" (Schmidt, 1993, p. …

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