Academic journal article International Journal of Linguistics

Does Language Aptitude Make a Difference? an Investigation of the Effect on Oral Accuracy through Corrective Feedback

Academic journal article International Journal of Linguistics

Does Language Aptitude Make a Difference? an Investigation of the Effect on Oral Accuracy through Corrective Feedback

Article excerpt


The aim of this study is to explore the effect of corrective feedback (prompts and recasts) on oral accuracy with the emphasis on language aptitude. The initial participants of this study were 120 male Iranian elementary learners (15-20 years old) studying English as a foreign language. Their language aptitude was measured by the Words in Sentence component of the Modem Language Aptitude Test-Elementary (MLAT-E) (2002). The Key English Test 2 (2003) was conducted as a placement test. 60 learners were selected using the results of placement and aptitude tests and randomly assigned into three groups (prompt, recast, control) each of them containing 20 members. The study followed placement test, MLAT-E, pre-test, treatment sessions, immediate post-test, and delayed post-test design. A mixed between-within subjects analysis of variance was conducted to assess the impact of prompts and recasts on participants' oral accuracy across three time periods (pre-intervention, post-intervention, three weeks follow-up). The results showed that there was a statistically significant interaction between the use of corrective feedback and the time. The main effect comparing the two types of intervention was statistically significant suggesting a significant difference in the effectiveness of the two teaching approaches showing the superiority of prompts over recasts in post-tests. In the meantime, the results didn't show any interaction between aptitude and feedback conditions in terms of target language accuracy.

Keywords: Corrective feedback, Prompt, Recast, Aptitude

1. Introduction

One of the concerns of EFL teachers in second language acquisition is error correction that has been debated for so long. The issue of error correction has led to the conduction of many theoretical and empirical studies. In this vein, providing the learners with only positive evidence or exposing them to negative evidence as well are the main concerns of English teachers. The advocates of nativist paradigm believe that providing the positive evidence for language learners is sufficient; however, interactionist scholars (e.g., Gass, 2003) believe that providing negative evidence is also required. Gass (1997) declares that the term negative evidence is often used interchangeably with the terms negative feedback and corrective feedback to refer to any erroneous utterances of language learners.

Looking through the annals of error correction (e.g., Brown, 2007; Larsen-Freeman, 2000; Richards & Rodgers, 2001) we can observe that errors were considered as taboos and should be corrected immediately in the discourse of some schools of thoughts like behaviorism. On the other hand, others claimed that error correction was not only unnecessary, but also harmful to language learning (Krashen, 1981a; 1981b). According to Nicholas, Lightbown, and Spada (2001) and Russell (2009), with the advent of communicative approaches, error correction experienced a fundamental change. The followers of communicative language teaching (CLT) established equilibrium between what Audiolinguists and Cognitistvists do and recommended that an error must be considered as evidence of language students' linguistic development, not as a taboo to be refrained. Since the followers of CLT spotted the requirement for fluency, this allowed the teachers to leave some errors uncorrected.

In communicative classes, the main concern of teachers is whether to correct the learners' erroneous oral production through non-target forms or not. In fact, most teachers have a tendency to correct errors, but the important point is that the teachers are not provided with enough knowledge in terms of 'what', 'how', and 'when' of correction. Even if we refer to the research studies, we would be faced with some confusing and contradictory results. Due to the effects of content-based and communicative approaches on L2 teaching, the teachers consider errors as evidence of learners' linguistic development. …

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