Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

Written Corrective Feedback: A Way toward Acquisition of Un-Accusative and Un-Ergative Verbs by Iranian Efl Learners

Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

Written Corrective Feedback: A Way toward Acquisition of Un-Accusative and Un-Ergative Verbs by Iranian Efl Learners

Article excerpt


All The question of whether learning syntax and semantics of a second language happens via a conscious or an unconscious process is still the concern of linguistic studies. As teachers, we have seen in many English language classes that EFL learners with different language proficiency levels have difficulty distinguishing the unergative and unaccusative verbs. They also find it difficult to interpret the meaning of the sentences with these types of verbs. In such situations, corrective feedback is usually provided by teachers in the form of responses to students' erroneous utterances. In this way, teachers indicate error commitment, and provide the correct language form or some metalinguistic information about the nature of the error (Ellis, Loewen & Erlam, 2006). Since corrective feedback is widely used in learning/teaching contexts, the present researchers are eager to discover whether feedback can help learners to learn unergative and unaccusative verbs.

1.1. Corrective feedback

Teachers' responses to learners' correct or incorrect utterances are recognized interchangeably error correction, positive or negative evidence, and positive or negative corrective feedback. One of the definitions of error correction was provided by Chaudron (1988) as a process which happens at two levels: at the first level, the error is specified by the teacher and then at the second level, the learner is expected to modify his/her production. According to Chaudron (1988), the true correction happens when there is no recurrence of the error in learner's future production. Later on, Brown (2000) mentioned that for all language learners, regardless of their personal differences, there are four stages of language learning:

1. Random errors stage at which students' previous knowledge of the language rules is not adequate;

2. Emergent stage when learners know the rules and the principles but they are not able to correct themselves;

3. Systematic stage at which learners acquire the ability of correcting their errors; and

4. Stabilization stage in which learners self-correct themselves before receiving the feedback, but still some minor errors are left undetected.

With errors being an inevitable part of learning a second language, teachers are driven into a pedagogical context in which providing learners with feedback is really essential. In what follows, different kinds of feedback are presented and explained.

1.2. Implicit vs. explicit corrective feedback

Lightbown and Spada (1999) defined corrective feedback as any sort of indication to the learners of their incorrect use of the target language and classified it into explicit and implicit feedback. They stated that it is the teacher who decides to use explicit or implicit corrective feedback to help learners progress in the process of language learning. In explicit corrective feedback, a formal explanation is usually provided by the teacher after the error, while implicit corrective feedback involves some ways that indirectly indicate the incorrectness of the learners' utterance and ask for a reformulation (Campillo, 2003). Most of the times, implicit feedback is provided in the form of recast, a reformulation of the learner's utterance where non-target-like parts of a learner's production are substituted by parallel target language form(s) (Loewen & Philip, 2006; Long, 1996).

Since quite a number of investigations have been carried out on explicit and implicit corrective feedback, different corrective feedback strategies have been introduced by different scholars (e.g., Lyster & Mori, 2006; Ammar & Spada, 2006; Loewen, 2005; Lyster, 2004; Panova & Lyster, 2002; Lyster & Ranta, 1997). Lyster and Mori (2006) defined feedback strategies within three categories of explicit correction, recasts and prompts. While in explicit correction and recasts, learners are supplied with target reformulation of their errors, prompts include other signals (such as clarification requests, elicitation, and repetition). …

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