e structures more effectively. Thus, both teachers and learners will gain maximum benefit from choosing an effective way of providing corrective feedback at the same time. Therefore, this study will contribute a new implication to the area of foreign language learning and error treatment.
Objectives of the Study
Since corrective feedback has long been regarded as an essential strategy for the development of a second or foreign language skills, the purpose of the present study is to explore whether recasts and overt correction as two methods of corrective feedback can lead to Iranian EFL learners’ grammar achievement. Besides, the present study is an attempt to find out which method of corrective feedback, overt correction or recast, can help Iranian EFL learners at the intermediate level achieve more grammar knowledge. In addition, it is aimed at investigating which method of recast Iranian EFL students prefer to be used by their teachers, declarative or interrogative.
Research Questions and Hypotheses
This study is an attempt to answer the following research questions:
۱. Does each of these types of corrective feedback, overt correction and recast, help the grammar achievement of Iranian EFL learners at the intermediate level?
۲. Which of these types of corrective feedback, overt correction or recast, help Iranian EFL learners at the intermediate level achieve more in their grammar knowledge?
۳. Which methods of recast, declarative or interrogative, do Iranian EFL learners at the intermediate level prefer their instructors to use as a feedback to their grammar performances?
Based on the above-mentioned research questions, three null hypotheses were formed as follows:
۱. Overt correction and recast do not help Iranian EFL learners at the Intermediate level achieve more in their grammar knowledge.
۲. There is no significant difference between using overt correction and recast on the grammar achievement of Iranian EFL learners at the intermediate level.
۳. Iranian EFL learners do not have any special preference for declarative or interrogative recasts.
Definition of the Key Terms
The key terms used in this study are corrective feedback, declarative recast, foreign language, grammar knowledge, interrogative recast, overt correction and recast.
Corrective feedback: Corrective feedback is described by Lightbown and Spada (2003) as “an indication to a learner that his or her use of the target language is incorrect.”(p.172). Simply, in this study it refers to teachers’ responses to learners’ errors.
Declarative recast: This type of recast states that something is wrong in a student’s sentence through statements and the repetition of the same sentence produced by the student.
Foreign language: This is a language other than one’s mother tongue. One learns it, but he does not have the opportunity to use it within his own country, and he is not exposed to it so much.
Grammar knowledge: Grammar knowledge in general is the same as linguistic knowledge. One’s knowledge of the phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics and pragmatics of the language is referred to as grammatical knowledge. In specific cases, grammar knowledge may specifically refer to the knowledge of syntax.
Interrogative recast: This type of recast indicates that something is wrong in a student’s sentence through asking a question directly or restating the sentence as a question.
Overt correction: Overt correction refers to the process of providing learners with direct forms of feedback.
Recast: Long (2006) states that corrective recast may be defined as a reformulation of all or part of a learner’s immediately preceding utterance in which one or more non-target-like items such as lexical, grammatical, etc. are replaced by the corresponding target language form(s), and where, throughout the exchange, the focus of the interlocutors is on meaning not language as an object. To put it simply, teachers reformulate all or part of students’ utterances but do not explicitly say that the utterance is wrong.
Review of the Literature
A glance at the literature on error correction sheds light on the key issues that surround the provision of corrective feedback in language pedagogy. The earliest error correction research was in the contrastive analysis era. At that juncture, differences between the native and the target language were considered to stop errors happening in language learning. There are different understandings about the causes of errors and how best to deal with them in teaching. Due to the complexity of the topic and various opinions, this chapter is organized into six main parts. The first part deals with error. It offers definitions of error, classifications of errors followed by the findings from empirical research on error to examine what errors should be corrected. Then, the best time for error correction, including studies that have taken timing of error correction into account will be reviewed. This will be followed by a summary of the literature related to the choice of corrector, i.e. teacher-, peer-, or self-correction.
The second part will initially clarify corrective feedback from different viewpoints in order to provide a clear definition of the term used in this study. Then, it will present positive and negative perspectives on the practice of corrective feedback. In the third part, various types of corrective feedback will be discussed. Next, two commonly used types of corrective feedback, overt correction and recasts, will be specifically examined. This part is also dedicated to presenting two types of recasts, declarative and interrogative. In addition, the advantages and disadvantages of recasts, the most frequently observed corrective feedback technique, is also highlighted in the review. The next part will discuss uptake and its correlation with error correction. Finally, a summary of the chapter will conclude the unresolved issues in topics discussed.
Errors and Mistakes
The terms ‘error’ and ‘mistake’ are two concepts of different natures. Long (1977) defined an error as:
(۱) Any phonological, morphological, syntactic or lexical deviance in the form of what students say from a standard variety of English which is attributable to the application by the learner of incorrect grammatical rules,
(۲) Recognizable misconstrual of or lack of factual information,
(۳) A breach of rules of classroom discourse, and
(۴) A bit of student language behavior treated as an example of (1), (2) or (3) by the teacher (p. 279).
Hendrickson (1978, p.387) defined ‘error’ as “an utterance, form, or structure that a particular language teacher deems unacceptable because of its inappropriate use or its absence in real-life discourse”. Likewise, Chaudron (1986) identified errors in his study based on the following criteria:
(۱) An objective evaluation of linguistic or content errors according to linguistic norms or evident misconstrual of fact, and
(۲) Any additional linguistic or other behavior that the teachers reacted to negatively or with no indication that improvement of the response was expected (p. 67).
Han (2002) believed that error pertains to knowledge system and cognition while mistake has to do with the practice of the system. It could be said that error indicates the lack of knowledge. On the other hand, a mistake indicates that the learner has the correct knowledge but cannot use it. Therefore, error is systematic while mistake has no specific pattern. A second language learner is able to recogniz
e a mistake but not an error. Similarly, Mirzaei and Saadati (2010) differentiated between the terms ‘error’ and ‘mistake’. A mistake is often considered to be a spoken or written slip committed by a native speaker who, once the slip is pointed out, would be able to self-correct. An error, on the other hand, is made by a non-native speaker who does not recognize the error and is therefore unable to correct it. One objection to this might be that many native speakers make mistakes which, using Standard English as a base, they are unable to recognize and correct; the distinction then becomes spurious.
Types of Errors to Be Corrected
When teaching a language, a teacher faces many errors committed by the students. Teachers must never stop helping students when it is their goal to use a standard form for what they wish to convey. Although it is impossible to correct all the errors committed by the learners, it could be possible to correct the most important and the most frequent ones. A variety of proposals have been suggested by language teaching methodologists regarding which errors to correct (Raimes, 1983; Edge, 1989; Ferris, 1999; Harmer, 2007). Corder (1967) differentiated between “errors” and “mistakes” and suggested that errors, which are performance phenomena, should be the focus of attention in the classrooms. According to Cohen (1975), “errors related to a specific pedagogic focus deserve higher attention than other less important errors” (pp. 414-22).
Burt (1975) distinguished between global and local errors. Global errors are errors that affect overall sentence organization such as conjunctions, errors with the use of subjects, objects, complements, run-on sentences, misplacement, relative clauses, sentences fragments, inversion, and errors with other construction while local errors are those which affect single elements in a sentence such as verbs, nouns, determiners, prepositions, adjectives, adverbs, and pronouns. According to him, teachers should only take into account global errors which block communication flow. However, none of these proposals is easy to implement in practice (Ellis, 2009; Hinkel, 2011; Sheen 2011). Richards, Platt, and Platt (1992) gave the following examples of global and local errors:
Global error: ‘I like take taxi but my friend said so not that we should be late for school’.
Local error: ‘If I heard from him, I will let you know’.
A different approach to the choice of which error to correct for the teachers is to adopt what Sheen (2007b) called “focused corrective feedback”. In this approach, one specific erroneous linguistic form is corrected at a time while waiting for other types of linguistic problems to be corrected in future lessons. For example, a teacher can correct just the present perfect tense errors at one time and tag question errors at another. A number of researchers shed light on the effectiveness of focused correction (Han, 2001; Lyster, 2004; Bitchener, Young, & Cameron, 2005).
A number of studies were conducted on the issue. Scot and Tucker (1974) analyzed the sources, types, and frequency of the grammar errors generated by 22 Arabic pre-intermediate students at an intensive English course at the American university of Beirut. Their results revealed that verbs, prepositions, articles, and relative clauses were the students’ most frequent errors. In the area of verbs, they calculated 19% of the finite verbs used in the students’ writings were erroneous.