Corrective feedback in L2 writing: effects of technique, student proficiency level and error type



The development of the ability to write in a second language (L2) is largely dependent on mastery of the linguistic conventions of the target language.

Researchers argue that written corrective feedback (CF) promotes linguistic accuracy, thereby contributing to second-language learning and skill development.

Written corrective feedback contributes to second-language learning and skill development. 

In their study conducted to describe the feedback practices of French as language of instruction (L1) and French as a second language (L2) teachers in Québec, Ahlem Ammar, Daniel Daigle and Pascale Lefrançois report that most of the CF provided is indirect (encouraging students to self-correct) and that direct CF (reformulating the student's error) is sometimes used to correct syntax errors. It is important to inform teachers about the effects of their feedback practices on L2 learning.

Due to various methodological limitations, previous research does not provide conclusive answers, hence the relevance of the present study, which aims to evaluate the effects of three CF techniques—two indirect techniques (underlining or underlining + metalinguistic clues) and one direct technique (providing the correct form)—on the learning of French as a second language. Given the importance of revision in writing, the effects of two revision conditions (individual and collaborative) are examined.

Finally, in light of research indicating that the effects of CF are moderated by variables specific to the student and the language, this project studies the moderating effects of student proficiency level and type of error.

In order to meet the three research objectives, five enriched high school French as a second language classes took part in this quasi-experimental study which included a pre-test, an experimental intervention, an immediate post-test and a delayed post-test.

Among other things, the results indicate that while both indirect techniques led to greater short-term gains than direct CF, the "underlining + metalinguistic clues" group is the only one that showed a lasting improvement in linguistic accuracy. Collaborative revision produces better error detection and repair rates than individual revision. The effect of each technique depends on the student's language proficiency level.

Main researcher

Ahlem Ammar, Université de Montréal

Summary

Research report

Call for proposals

Deposit of the research report: October 2019