Academic journal article Journal of International Students

Advanced ESL Students' Prior EFL Education and Their Perceptions of Oral Corrective Feedback

Academic journal article Journal of International Students

Advanced ESL Students' Prior EFL Education and Their Perceptions of Oral Corrective Feedback

Article excerpt

Several researchers (Kim, 2004; Rezaei & Mozaffari, 2011; Russell, 2009; Sheen, 2010; Yang & Lyster, 2010) have suggested that the effectiveness of corrective feedback (CF) in second language (L2) classrooms depends on various factors, such as different classroom contexts (e.g. ESL vs. EFL), students' proficiency levels, target structures, language aptitude, and students' attitude toward error correction. Often, these variables stem partly from L2 students' prior English learning experiences in their respective home countries, but almost no studies have connected these experiences to perceptions of CF. To fill this gap, the present study surveys the environments in which a group of sixty advanced-level adult ESL students studied English before coming to the United States, and considers how differences among classroom cultures-including how or whether oral CF and error correction were offered-influence these students' attitudes toward oral CF in the United States. Though Lyster and Saito (2010) found no significant contextual influences on the effects of CF in ESL or EFL institutional settings, each classroom offers unique learning processes, purposes, and circumstances. Thus, identifying and measuring contextual influence requires paying more concerted attention to how ESL students from different classroom cultures view and respond to teachers' oral CF. The present study is the first to articulate these connections, to help clarify how previous English learning influences L2 students' perceptions of their teachers' oral CF.

LITERATURE REVIEW

Working Definitions of Academic Culture

Academic culture is an especially relevant variable in the present study, both as a pedagogical context for corrective feedback and as a set of broader assumptions about language learning within the context of this study. Flowerdew and Miller (1995) offer a useful working definition of academic culture:

Academic culture refers to those features of the lecture situation which require an understanding of the particular academic values, roles, assumptions, attitudes, patterns of behaviors, and so on. Academic culture may be identified at various levels: at the level of a group of countries (e.g., Western countries); at the level of an individual country; at the level of a group of institutions within a given country; at the level of the individual institution within a given country. At any of these levels, a given academic culture is likely to be imbued with the values and practices of the ethnic culture within which it is situated (Flowerdew, 1986), and it may be difficult, in analyzing a given instance of behavior in an academic context, to ascribe such behavior to ethnic or academic influence (p. 362).

The participants in this study are adult ESL students, mainly from China, Korea, Japan, and Taiwan. These students had already studied English as a foreign language for many years in their respective home countries. In their interviews, several participants mentioned that public English secondary education in East Asian countries emphasizes reading and traditional grammar translation approaches based on rote-learning and memorization. Cain's (2012) description supports this anecdotal evidence: "in many East Asian classrooms, the traditional curriculum emphasizes listening, writing, reading, and memorization. Talking is simply not a focus, and is even discouraged" (p. 184). According to Hu (2003), this disparity creates a group of learners "who are able to achieve high scores on discretepoint grammar tests yet unable to communicate fluently and accurately in communicative contexts" common to American universities (as cited in Yang & Lyster, 2010, p. 236).

By contrast, college classrooms in the United States often include and reward student discussion. American ESL classes typically make talking in English a priority. Similarly, American teachers tend to be less authoritarian and more approachable than their counterparts in Asian universities, and consider it normal to give direct personal feedback to individual students. …

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