Response to Error - Mazin Yousif - Big Day In 2014

Response to error in L2
writing: Where are we
(teachers) and where do we
go from here…?
By: Mazin Yousif
Big Day In 2014
[email protected]
Discussion 1:
Discuss the following in pairs or
 When teaching writing, do you see yourself as a language teacher or
as a writing instructor?
 When giving feedback, how do you see your role: a teacher, target
reader, assessor, evaluator or editor?
 Does your feedback tend to be comprehensive (i.e. covering all errors)
or selective and prioritized (i.e. main issues)? Why?
 Which issues do you focus on when providing feedback: grammar and
mechanics or meaning? Why?
 Do you tend to give single- or multiple-draft feedback? Why?
 Do you think that your feedback strategies encourage or discourage
your students ?
Activity 1: Identify the errors in the
 In recent years the children is spending more time in home playing
computer games.
 is important to work in group.
 Work in groups will make themselves successfull in the future.
 There is no doubt that this behavior affects their health, children have
social problems, education system has to support them.
 In recent years the children is spending more time at home playing
computer games.
 is important to work in group.
 Work in groups will make themselves successfull in the future.
 There is no doubt that this behavior affects their health, children have
social problems, education system has to support them.
(try to use linking words to connect the ideas well – marginal
Discussion 2:
 What competencies do L2 student writers need to have to write
 How do L2 students’ writing needs differ from those of L1
 If differences exist, what implications do they have for teacher
feedback strategies?
 What areas do L2 students prefer their feedback to focus on?
 Needs and differences
 Errors to target
 Arguments against
 Confusing terminology
 Teacher written feedback: strategies & factors
 Response to errors: issues & strategies
 Activity
What do L2 students need?
 Grammatical competence:
Grammar, vocabulary & language system
 Discourse competence:
Genre & its rhetorical aspects & conventions
 Sociolinguistic competence:
Appropriate use of language in different contexts
Potential L1 & L2 student writer
 Individual:
(e.g.) age, language aptitude, gender, motivation & attitude, learning
style & preferences
 Language:
The burden of learning to write and learning English
Developmental aspect of language learning
Lack of linguistic resources to convey ideas
L1 & L2 writing feedback
 L1 students:
Content–focused (i.e. improvement in the overall quality)
 L2 students:
Language–focused (i.e. linguistic accuracy of paramount importance)
ESL teachers: composition slaves, error hunters, language editors
Lack the intuitive ability to handle grammatical accuracy and
Which errors to target in feedback?
 Genre–specific (e.g. narrative texts)
 Comprehensibility: interfere with clarity of meaning
 Frequent: Consistently made by the individual student
 Student–identified: Would like the teacher to focus on
Writing: Communicative as well as linguistic competence.
Arguments against provision of
 Truscott (1996): Feedback is ineffective and harmful
‘It has no place in writing courses and should be abandoned’ (p.328)
1. Interlanguage development: a gradual process and not a sudden
discovery (based on the Krashen’s Natural Order Hypothesis)
2. Learner aptitude: Ready to acquire a grammatical structure and the
role of ZPD
3. Pseudo-learning: Knowledge learned may disappear & no long-term
benefits (based on acquisition VS learning)
Confusing terminology
 Error VS Mistake:
Error: A systematic inaccuracy indicating a gap in learners’
interlanguage system.
Mistake: An unsystematic inaccuracy (e.g. slips, memory failures).
 Treatable VS Untreatable errors:
Treatable: Rule–governed and easy to respond and treat (e.g. subject–
verb agreement).
Untreatable: Beyond students’ knowledge and difficult to treat (e.g.
word choice).
Confusing terminology
 Local VS Global errors:
Local: Do not impede communication (grammatical and non–
Global: Interfere with comprehensibility and result in communication
 Learning VS Acquisition
Learning: Processes of learning.
Acquisition: Ultimate goal of the ‘learning’ process (i.e. multicompetent).
Confusing terminology
 Substantive VS Perfunctory noticing
Substantive: In-depth process of WF resulting in uptake (bridging the
knowledge gap and internalisation takes place).
Perfunctory: Inability to process WF.
 Declarative VS Procedural knowledge:
Declarative: understand what, but cannot do it.
Procedural: notice the gap, understand what and know how to do it.
Teacher written feedback strategies
 Type:
Direct VS Indirect
 Focus:
Focused (comprehensive) VS Unfocused (selective)
 Explicitness
Coded VS Uncoded
 In recent years the children is spending more time in at home playing
computer games. (Indirect)
 is important to work in group. (Direct)
 Work in groups will make them becoming more successful and
interacting with each other. (Focused)
 Everyone agree that computers is usefull and should be use in studet.
 This gave me a lot of hard time since I am a child. (Coded)
 Everyone have been a liar. (Uncoded)
Direct WF
Direct WF: provision of correction.
Crossing unnecessary words, inserting missing words and direct
 Advantages:
Appropriate for ‘treatable errors’, effective for short-term learning,
promoting “Perfunctory Noticing”, low proficiency level.
 Disadvantages:
One–shot treatment, less engaging, unidirectional, lack of knowledge
of the nature of errors, promoting “Substantive Noticing” time and
energy-consuming practice, reliance on corrections, short–term benefits.
Indirect WF
Indirect WF: No provision of correction
Circling, labeling, underlining, highlighting, marking it in the text with
or without a rule
 Advantages:
Guided–learning problem solving activity, engaging, developing
transferable self–editing strategies, fostering student autonomy,
appropriate for high proficiency level, long-term benefits.
 Disadvantages:
Appropriate for treatable errors, a challenge for less proficient learners
Focused & unfocused WF
 Focused WF: Selective
Targeting specific error types or patters, a discrete number of error
categories (e.g. prepositions & articles), students’ most frequent error
 Unfocused WF: Comprehensive
Correcting all error types
Coded & uncoded WF
 Coded WF: Labeling the error
Providing a code for error categories (e.g. T for tense)
 Uncoded WF: Identifying the error without labeling
Underlining, circling, making a marginal comment without the use of
Factors influencing choice of
Several factors come into play:
1. Type of error (i.e. treatable or non-treatable)
2. Impact and frequency of error
3. Individual factors: proficiency level, language aptitude & attitude,
goals and preferences in relation to the type, focus and use of code
4. Contextual factors: Micro & Macro contexts
Micro: Type of writing task & its communicative purpose, learning
purposes (obtaining qualification or making improvements in
grammatical accuracy), teacher–student trusting relationship, time of the
day, physical setting.
Macro: Learners’ educational backgrounds, exposure to knowledge
and instruction of target language.
Response to student error:
1. Goals: Knowledge of forms and structure, focus on communicative
competence, type, amount and relevance of instruction, converting
declarative (know about it) to procedural (know how to do it)
knowledge, multiple drafts.
2. Timing: Intermediate drafts (focus on form and content), but final
draft (more emphasis on error).
Pedagogical gains: charting of types/numbers of errors, developing
proofreading and editing strategies, correcting and analysing own errors.
3. Amount, type and degree of explicitness: focused VS unfocused /
direct VS indirect / coded VS uncoded.
4. Ongoing support: strategy training (e.g. editing and self–editing
strategies, error log) & constant in–class grammar instruction.
Response to student error:
5. Peer feedback and collaborative revision (student–student).
6. One-to-one discussion in class.
7. Metalingiustic explanation: one-to-one and/or group.
8. Marginal comments.
9. Endnotes: Things we did well / Things we need to focus on.
Guiding principles for response
to student writing
 Some guiding principles:
1. Time the intervention (which draft?)
2. Be selective and prioritise issues
3. Contextualise and individualise the response
4. Provide
5. Choose clarity over brevity (clear comments)
6. Strike a balance between providing clear, helpful and individualised
feedback and appropriating the student’s text
Where to start and what to
look for?
1. Developing task assessment criteria
Developing rubrics that reflect course aims and objectives and teacher’s
expectations (e.g. task response, coherence & cohesion, grammar &
mechanics and lexical resources).
2. Knowing students’ strengths and weaknesses
Addressing individual needs by discussing them with the student.
3. Prioritising issues on various drafts
Identifying problematic errors and which should be addressed. Using a
judicious combination of teacher written feedback, peer feedback,
teacher–student conference and self–evaluation through various drafts.
How to construct clear &
helpful feedback?
1. Be a reader, not an error hunter
2. Summarise specific suggestions for improvement
3. Add legible marginal comments as well as examples
4. Explain any rhetorical or grammatical terminology
5. Provide clear comments and engaging questions (avoid indirect
6. Pair questions, comments with explicit suggestions
7. Use words or phrases instead of codes or symbols if need be
8. Design and adapt a standard feedback form
ESL writing error categories
Error type
Percent of total
Sentence structure
Word choice
Verb tense
Noun endings
Verb form
Word form
Run–on sentences
(Chaney, 1999)
Beyond response to error:
What else can teachers do?
What can be done with a text?
 Analysing vocabulary
 Acquiring vocabulary through extensive reading
 Analysing rhetorical aspects and moves
 Examining syntactic structures
 Teaching grammar constantly
Take home message
 L2 writing feedback:
1. Learning to write and writing to learn
2. A protracted process
3. Not a one shot treatment — Multiple drafts essential (edit–submit
4. A form of two-way communication between teacher and student
5. Not a one form treatment (a variety of forms recommended)
6. Student– and text–focused
Take home message
7. Self-editing strategies–oriented
8. Timely fit & manageable
9. A problem solving task
10. Done with and not to the student in class
11. Eclectic in relation to the focus
Holding students to be
How can students be held accountable?
1. Monitor and track own progress (e.g. error log)
2. Revise and submit sheet
3. Develop self–editing skills
4. Discuss their individual needs and issues with the teacher
Activity 2: How would you respond
to the errors in these texts?
Factual recount: A disastrous journey
This happen a few years ago in Spain. The first part part fine. We
use our new satnav for the first time take us right for the door of
our friend house. Three days we continue our jouney we started but
after a while we relise we drive west towards another city. I was
sure we are going in the wrong direct, my husband want to do what
the satnav saying. We stopped. we checked the map, we turned
around. We wasted nearly 2 hour going for the wrong direct.
Possible main issues:
 Tense
 Lack of text organisers (e.g. and, when, but)
 Spelling
Factual report: My beautiful one–bedroom flat in Budapest
A flat is nic and beatifll. It is perfect in city of Budapest. It is cose flat. It
has one large bedroom, spacial living room with balcony, modern
kitchen, and bathroom. There is specticular view of Danube from
windows. Living room has big table and large smart TV. Flat has wouden
Possible main issues:
 Spelling
 Articles
Discussion essay: Living without TV
The issue of whether or not students should wear school uniforms are
very important for consider.
we need for consider the reasons why students should wear uniforms.
school uniforms makes life easy. if you wear uniforms, people do not
know you come from a wealthy or poor family.
There are some reason why students should not wear uniforms. wearing
uniforms are boring. students want to decide like adults.
Possible main issues:
 Lack of text organisers (e.g. firstly, secondly, on the other hand)
 No supporting ideas and examples to support main arguments
 Capitalization
Student 1: One day Kate found spider in back yard and decided to take it. She
loved spider and knew it was dangerous.
So it was her turn to show and tell, Kate got up and opened box to show
everybody spider. Spider jumped of box on floor, everybody in class started to
scream and ran around room madly.
Student 2: Last week Kate was seeing a spider in the back yard and decided to
take it. She was knowing it is dangerous.
When it her turn to show and tell, Kate stands up and opens the box to show
everybody about her spider. Suddenly the spider jumpes out of the box on the
floor, and everybody in class is screaming and running like crazy.
Possible main issues:
 Student 1:
Articles and text organisers
 Student 2:
Selected references
Birtchener, J. & Ferris, D. (2012). Written corrective feedback in second language acquisition
and writing. New York: Routledge.
Chaney, S. (1999). The effect of error types on error correction and revision. California:
California State University Press.
Ferrirs, D. (2003). Response to student writing: Implications for second language students. New
York & London: Lawrence Erlbaun Associates.
Ferris, D. (2011). Treatment of error in second language writing (2nd ed.). Michigan: The
University of Michigan Press.
Hyland, K. & Hyland, F. (2006). Feedback on second language students’ writing. Language
Teaching, 39, 83–101.
Lee, I. (2011). Working smarter, not working harder: Revisiting teacher feedback in the L2
writing classroom. The Canadian Modern Language Review, 67, 377–399.
Storch, N. (2010). Critical feedback on written corrective feedback research. International
Journal of English Studies, 10, 29–46.

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