Error Correction in Second Language Writing

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Error Correction in Second Language Writing:
Teachers’ Beliefs, Practices, and Students’ Preferences

Victor Albert Francis S. Corpuz

Lynette May
Annette Patterson

Queensland University of Technology
Faculty of Education
Master of Education (Research)
September 2011

Error correction is perhaps the most widely used method for responding to student writing. W hile various studies have investigated the effectiveness of providing error correction, there has been relatively little research incorporating teachers’ beliefs, practices, and students’ preferences in written error correction . The current study adopted features of an ethnographic research design in order to explore the beliefs and practices of ESL teachers, and investigate the preferences of L2 students regarding written error correction in the context of a language institute situated in the Brisbane metropolitan district.

In this study, two ESL teachers and two groups of adult intermediate L2 students were interviewed and observed. The beliefs and practices of the teachers were elicited through interviews and classroom observations. The preferences of L2 students were elicited through focus group interviews. Responses of the participants were encoded and analysed.

Results of the teacher interviews showed that teachers believe that providing written error correction has advantages and disadvantages. Teachers believe that providing written error correction helps students improve their proof -reading skills in order to revise their writing more efficiently. However, results also indicate that providing written error correction is very time consuming. Furthermore, teachers prefer to provide explicit written feedback strategies during the early stages of the language course, and move to a more implicit strategy of providing written error correction in order to facilitate language learning.

On the other hand, results of the focus group interviews suggest that students regard their teachers’ practice of written error correction as important in helping them locate their errors and revise their writing. However, students also feel that the process of providing written error correction is time consuming. Nevertheless, students want and expect their teachers to provide written feed back because they believe that the benefits they gain from receiving feedback on their writing outweigh the apparent disadvantages of their teachers’ written error correction strategies. ii

Table of Contents

p. ii

Table of Contents

p. iii

List of Tables and figures

p. viii

Statement of Original Authorship

p. xi


p. xii

Chapter 1: The Problem and Its Background
1.1 Introduction

p. 1

1.2 Background of the Problem

p. 2

1.3 Purpose of the Study

p. 4

1.4 Importance of the Study

p. 5

1.5 Scope of the Study

p. 6

1.6 Summary

p. 6

Chapter 2: Review of Literature
2.1 Introduction

p. 7

2.2 Second Language Acquisition (SLA) Theories

p. 7

2.2.1 Behaviourist Theory of Language Learning

p. 8

2.2.2 Krashen’s Monitor Model of SLA

p. 9

2.2.3 Two Types of Language Skills

p. 11

2.2.4 Interlanguage Theory and Processes

p. 12

2.2.5 Pienemann’s Teachability Hypothesis

p. 14

2.2.6 Schmidt’s Noticing Hypothesis

p. 16

2.3 Background of Language Teaching Methods

p. 18

2.4 The Error Correction Debate

p. 22

2.4.1 Negative Perspectives of Error Correction

p. 22

2.4.2 Positive Perspectives of Error Correction

p. 25

2.5 The Roles of W ritten Error Correction

p. 28

2.5.1 Error Correction as Focus-on-Form Intervention

p. 28

2.5.2 Error Correction to Facilitate Noticing

p. 29

2.6 Approaches and Methods of Written Error Correction

p. 30

2.6.1 General Approaches

p. 31

2.6.2 Explicit W ritten Error Correction

p. 32

2.6.3 Implicit W ritten Error Correction

p. 32

2.6.4 Error...
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