evidence that the learners’ repetitions of recasts assisted acquisition although they did find what they called “primed production”. Primed production refers to the learners’ correctly production of the corrected form within six turns of the recast. Furthermore, because uptake is performance data, its interpretation requires researchers’ inferences and is not always straightforward. This is particularly true when uptake is unsuccessful, for instance, when it is a simple acknowledgment like ‘yes,’ its underlying intension can be ambiguous between an acknowledgment of the feedback or a semantic response to the content (Egi, 2010).
Accordingly, one should interpret uptake with great care, especially when uptake needs repair, namely students’ correction after the recast. However, earlier research that employed uptake as a noticing measure generally treated both repair and needs-repair (Doughty, 1994; Lyster, 1998a, 1998b; Panova & Lyster, 2002; Sheen, 2004, 2006). For instance, research reported that 25-48 percent of recasts led to uptake in teacher-fronted classroom contexts (Lyster & Ranta, 1997; Ellis et al., 2001; Nabei & Swain, 2002; Sheen, 2004). Despite considering uptake to be a significant and noticeable source for understanding the impact of the feedback, it does not indicate that long-term learning has happened. It is also possible that learners’ uptake does not fully represent their cognitive processing of the feedback (Nabei & Swain, 2002).
There has been a controversy among researchers regarding whether errors should be corrected or not, and if yes, how they should be corrected so that it would help learners improve their grammar accuracy. In the light of a delicate balancing act between giving too much or too little corrective feedback, some studies confirmed the benefits of corrective feedback in certain situations like formal settings and some others concluded that not only does not it cause any improvement in learners’ performance, but also it results in negative effects.
On the other hand, there is a shift in the field of second language acquisition by teachers towards a greater focus on fluency or the ability to write and speak at a natural and productive pace rather than nitpicking over matters of form such as spelling or punctuation. By virtue of their training and experience, teachers may be the most authoritative source of corrective feedback, but under certain circumstances, there may be other sources of feedback that are quite helpful to learners in the long run. Peer- and self-correction can be quite helpful to encourage students to correct their own mistakes and become independent. However, care needs to be taken. Teachers may instruct students to limit the amount of negative feedback while ensuring a sufficient amount of positive feedback.
Furthermore, some other studies do not distinguish between the performance level of corrective feedback group and no-corrective feedback group and claim what causes improvement in learners’ performance after sometime is the effect of practice with writing not corrective feedback. An analysis of the related studies shows that most of the researchers who agree on the positive role of corrective feedback in learning process believe that three types of errors should be corrected more than others: errors which are relevant to the features of the target language, those that occur frequently and those hindering communication.
Back to the subject, recasts were detected to lead to learner repair as frequently as overt correction, and they were considered tantamount to overt correction in those contexts (Lochtman, 2002; Lyster & Mori, 2006). But students are more willing to notice explicit CF than implicit one nonetheless (Mackey & Goo, 2007; Nassaji, 2009). Some researchers recommended that the effects of implicit CF might be more long-lasting than those of explicit CF, which might be more effective temporarily (see Ellis et al., 2006; Mackey & Goo, 2007; Li, 2010).
However, special care must be exercised when choosing a particular feedback type since factors such as proficiency level of learners, context (Rodriguez & Perdomo, 2002; Amar &Spada, 2006; Perdomo, 2008), type of the target structure, learners’ orientation toward a particular feedback, age, motivation (Nassaji, 2006), learning setting and purpose can affect the outcome of a particular type of feedback. As a final point, Teachers need “to orchestrate, in accordance with their students’ language abilities and content familiarity, a wide range of feedback types befitting of instructional context” (Lyster, 2007, p. 124).
The main objective of the study was to explore whether recasts and overt correction as two methods of corrective feedback could lead to Iranian EFL learners’ grammar achievement. Besides, the present study was an attempt to find out which method of corrective feedback, overt correction or recast, could help Iranian EFL learners at the intermediate level achieve more grammar knowledge. Additionally, two methods of recast, declarative and interrogative, were under investigation to figure out which method of recast Iranian EFL learners at the intermediate level preferred to be used by instructors. This chapter has been designed to present the methodological components of the study in the following order: setting and participants, instruments, procedures, data analysis and design.
Setting and Participants
This study was carried out in the Iran Language Institute, Yazd branch, Iran. The Iran Language Institute (ILI) is a nationwide language learning institution where foreign languages such as English, German, Arabic, French, Russian and Italian are taught. This study was conducted in the English department where many male and female language learners study English as a foreign language with various educational and social backgrounds and at different age levels. Language learners are mainly school and college pupils. There are three groups of learners attending language classes in the English department at the ILI: children in the 6-10 age range, teenagers in the 10-14 age range, and adults above 14 years of age who learn English at 6 proficiency levels: basic, elementary, pre-intermediate, intermediate, high-intermediate, and advanced. In turn, each proficiency level also comprises three sublevels totaling 18 levels. A placement test composed of a written test and an oral interview is used to place learners at proper levels which best suit them.
The participants of this study were 50 male EFL students studying at the Iran Language Institute, Yazd branch, Iran. They were at the intermediate level in the 15-25 age range. All participants had taken the placement test required for being accepted to study English at the institute; therefore, they were assumed to enjoy the same level of language knowledge. They were studying English in a foreign language setting with Persian as their mother tongue. None of them had stayed in an English speaking country for more than two weeks.
The research instrument used in the study involved a test of 30 multiple-choice items (see Appendix A) derived from the book “Progress toward ILI Examinations: Pre 3 Intermediate” (Lotfian, 2009). The test was an achievement one based on the grammar points taught in the textbook. It was written based on a table of specifications to match the items with materials covered in the book. Prior to the actual test administration, this test was piloted for its reliability and content validity; it was examined by two faculty members of Islamic Azad University of Abadeh, Iran, who had a long-term teaching experience at the ILI and were quite familiar with the book content. They agreed that the test enjoyed a high level of content vali
dity. The reliability of the test was calculated through Cronbach’s alpha and the result was 0.71 (see Appendix B). In addition, to answer the third research question, a survey was carried out to find the learners’ preference for declarative or interrogative recasts.
This study aimed at comparing two different corrective treatments (overt-correction and recast) to see which one was more effective for Iranian learners’ grammar achievement by giving consecutive treatments and administering tests. Permission to conduct the study was sought and obtained from the central office in Tehran, Iran (see Appendix C for the consent form.).
To fulfill this aim, the aforementioned pre-test of grammar was given to the students at the beginning before the process of corrective feedback provision started. The purpose of giving this test was first for homogeneity purposes and then, for later comparison between the performance of students at the end and that at the beginning to see if there was any significant difference in the grammar achievement of the two groups receiving recast and overt correction or not. The test which was used both as the pre- and post-test consisted of a number of multiple-choice questions. The allotted time to answer the items of the test was nearly 20 minutes. Then, the students were divided into two groups of 25 students. Because of the institutional constraints, it was not possible to have a control group to compare with the experimental groups receiving overt correction and recast as the students’ mistakes were supposed to be corrected one way or another in all classes. The test was the same for both groups in which the teacher used overt correction and recast.
Then, the treatment started. Both groups received the same instruction. It should be mentioned here that due to the ILI constraints, having a control group with no corrective feedback was impossible, and finding enough evidence in the literature, the researcher took it for granted that corrective feedback by itself leads to grammar achievement. Therefore, the two groups received two different types of corrective feedback, overt correction and recast. The only difference lay in the process of corrective feedback used during the instruction, overt correction for one group and recast for another. The difference is illustrated in the following examples which are the actual data collected in the present study.
(۱) S (student): I go to the movies yesterday afternoon.
T (teacher): You went to the movies.
What did you see?
In the above-mentioned example, the teacher supplied the correct form (went) without interrupting the flow of speech, thus maintaining a focus on meaning.
(۲) S: Several years ago, Masaru Ibuka, the chairman of Sony, remove the recording function and speaker.
T: No, not remove — removed. The verb must be in the past tense.
In this example, the teacher directly corrected the learner’s erroneous utterance.
As the educational sessions of the Iran Language Institute were held 105 minutes twice a week during an eleven-week period, the process of corrective feedback provision took a total of twenty sessions. At the end of the instruction, the participants took the post-test, which was administered in the last session of the term. Next, the group