Written corrective feedback in the writing classroom for young English Second Language Learners

University essay from Malmö universitet/Lärande och samhälle

Abstract: Feedback can be given in many different forms, and the type that is written and strives to either correct students written errors or support their overall writing ability is suitably enough referred to as written corrective feedback (WCF) of which there are two main types of: indirect and direct WCF. We know that second language writers meet many obstacles, be that lack of motivation and vocabulary or misspellings and phrasal issues; nonetheless, teachers thought processes about what type of feedback to give on what type of error is of importance for the continuation of the development of sound feedback approaches. Therefore, we intend to investigate English teachers perceptions on the WCF they give with the help of the following research questions: What are primary school English teachers’ perceptions about WCF in order to promote their ESL students writing development? What are primary school English teachers’ perceptions regarding their choice between written direct CF or written indirect CF on their ESL students written production? To investigate these questions we wrote an interview guide, and conducted interviews with seven teachers in 4th to 6th grade, asking about their perceptions on the development of writing in English as a second language and how they would describe their corrective feedback and their thought process on what type to give and when to give it on their student’s writing. Our findings showed that all teachers acknowledged two types of students in their ESL classroom: the high proficiency and the low proficiency. The low proficiency need more direct, clear and specific corrections on most of their writing whilst the high proficiency benefit from more indirect CF in order to make use of their metacognitive thinking skills. The findings also revealed that teachers choose to use indirect or direct CF based on the activity and whether the purpose is to learn grammar or not. If the focus is grammar, they would choose direct CF, and if it was to write a fictional story, they would give more indirect CF in order to not stifle the student’s creative process and “take the fun out of it”. Our study points to a need of more research within the field of feedback in general, since there is not much evidence showing what approaches are the most beneficial. Another issue is that there are practically no guidelines for teachers to follow, telling them what type to choose and for what activities. This is something for future research to dig deeper into.

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