spoken or written production. Chaudron (1986) explained that the concept of correction is “any reaction by the teacher which transforms, refers to, or demands improvement of a student’s behavior or utterance” (p. 66). According to Chaudron (1988), corrective feedback denotes different meanings. In his words, the term “treatment of error” refers to “any teacher behavior following an error that minimally attempts to inform the learner of the fact of error” (p. 150). Keh (1990) defined feedback as “input from a reader to a writer with the effect for providing information to the writer for revision” (p. 294).
Schachter (1991) stated that, corrective feedback is a term often found in the pedagogical field of second language learning or teaching. She mentioned its counterpart in the linguistic field of acquisition is ‘negative data’ or ‘negative evidence’. Long (1996) believed that input can be offered to learners in the form of positive and negative evidence. Long defined positive evidence as providing the learners with models of what is grammatical and acceptable in the target language (TL); and negative evidence as providing the learners with direct or indirect information about what is unacceptable. This information may be provided in the form of what is called explicit and implicit corrective feedback.
Corrective feedback was defined by Lightbown and Spada (1999) as “any indication to the learners that their use of the target language is incorrect” (p. 171). This includes various responses that the learners receive after making errors. When a language learner says, ‘He go to school every day’, corrective feedback can be explicit (for example, ‘no, you should say goes, not go’) or implicit (‘yes he goes to school every day’), and may or may not include metalinguistic information, for example, ‘don’t forget to make the verb agree with the subject’ (p. 171-2).
In Suzuki’s (2005) words, corrective feedback is a pedagogical means of offering modified input to students, which could consequently lead to modified output by the students. Ellis (2009) viewed corrective feedback as one type of negative feedback. According to him, it is for any form of response a learner’s utterance including a linguistic error. The response can consist of any indication that an error has been committed, provision of the correct target form or metalinguistic information or any combination of them. Corrective feedback research “constitutes an area of inquiry that can connect theory, research and practice” (Sheen, 2010, p.177).
Positive Perspectives on Corrective Feedback
There are many studies which support the positive effect of corrective feedback on learning the grammar of a new language. A good number of these studies have differentiated between direct, a teacher clearly states what a student has produced is erroneous, and indirect, the teacher makes students understand that they have made an error, feedback strategies and have investigated the extent to which these strategies lead to greater accuracy of learners’ performances.
Larson (1985) believed if the learners want to acquire the correct structures of the target language, they have to know whether their performance is right or erroneous; therefore, error treatment is an inevitable strategy which should be used in our classrooms as an efficient way to increase learners’ accuracy of performance. According to Chaudron (1986), “Despite the lack of evidence that feedback on linguistic error in classrooms or outside them is consistently effective in stimulating learners’ interlanguage progress, the possibility remains that certain learners, especially those with a formal learning style, can derive benefit from error correction” (p. 82 ).
According to Chastin (1988, p. 361), “without feedback the student cannot be sure that the learning task has been completed correctly”. We can find more evidence about the role corrective feedback plays in learning a foreign language, in the hypothesis testing models of language acquisition. These models assume that learners formulate hypotheses about the target language rules and test these hypotheses against the target norm. In line with these models, corrective feedback or negative evidence plays a dominant role on learning the structures of a new language (Bley-Vroman, 1986, 1989). Tomassello and Herron’s study (1989) found that learners who were first allowed to make mistakes and were then corrected, improved their target language performance more than learners who were given language rules.
In their study on the effects of corrective feedback and form-focused instruction on second language acquisition in the context of intensive ESL (English as a second language) programs, Lightbown and Spada (1990) aimed at examining the relationships between instruction, interaction and acquisition. The findings of this study showed that overall language skills were developed through meaning-based instruction in which corrective feedback strategy was used.
According to White (1990), negative evidence is mostly required when learners adopt grammars that generate as suspect of the grammars permitted in the target language. In other words, negative evidence is essential when the learners need to go from a broader grammar, suspect, to a narrower grammar, subset. In her study on the effectiveness of form-focused instruction, positive and negative evidence on learners’ acquisition of the structures of the target language, White (1991) concluded that explicit evidence, both positive and negative, is more useful in helping learners acquire the true structures of the target language. Bartram and Walton (1991) believed that the probable results of teachers’ ignorance of learners’ errors is that teachers themselves feel guilty; students, their parents and school and authorities will complain to teachers and think of them as irresponsible or incapable individuals and students’ anxiety will increase.
Gass (1991) argued against Krashen’s idea stating that learners, with the presentation of comprehensible input, convert this input to intake and subsequently to output. According to her, learners must not only comprehend their input, but also must notice the mismatch between the input and their own interlanguage system. She regards corrective feedback as an attention-raising strategy that causes learners to diagnose the differences between their language and the target language.
Nunan and Lamb (1996, p.68) suggested that error making and subsequent corrections by teachers “can provide the learners with valuable information in the target language”. In this updated version of the interactionist hypothesis, Long (1996) proposed that environment contributions to acquisition are mediated by selective attention and the learners’ developing second language processing capacity, and that the resources are brought together most usefully, although not exclusively, during negotiation for meaning.
Ferris (1999) investigated the effects of different treatment conditions on both text revisions and new pieces of writing. He reported that direct (explicit) corrective feedback leads to more correct revisions (88%) than indirect on (71%). However, in the middle of the semester, students who received indirect corrective feedback reduced their error frequency rates substantially more than those who received direct feedback. Ashwell (2000) compared four methods of providing feedback, namely, grammar then content feedback, content then grammar feedback, form and content feedback and no feedback. The results of the study showed that all the three groups who received feedback significantly made more improvement in their writing accuracy than the group with no feedback.
Ferris and Roberts (2001) examined the effects of three different feedback treatments (error marked with codes, errors underlined but not labeled or marked, no error feedback), significantly outperformed the group who did not receive
any, but they found that there was no significant difference between the performance of the group without coded feedback. In the coded feedback strategy, the exact place of the error is determined and the error type is marked with a code, for example, PS means an error in the use or form of the past simple tense; uncoded feedback refers to cases in which the teacher underlines an error, or places an error in the margin of the paper, but it is learners’ duty to identify the correct forms of erroneous structures.
In an empirical study, Ferris (2002) found the beneficial effect of error correction feedback on improving learners’ accuracy in the short term. She recognized the positive attitudes, her students gained about the effect of feedback, which encouraged them to be independent self-editors. Russell and Spada (2006) performed a meta-analysis of 15 Corrective Feedback (CF) studies (including 10 oral CF studies). They found that CF facilitates second language development; they identified a very large effect size of 1.16. Russell and Spada concluded, however, that “the wide range of variables examined in CF research is spread rather thin; more work is needed to consolidate efforts and focus on those CF variables that appear to be particularly fruitful for future investigation” (p. 156). Mackey and Goo (2007) conducted a meta-analysis of 28 interaction studies (including 20 oral CF studies). They discovered that providing CF in L2 interaction has a medium effect size of 0.71 in immediate posttests and a large effect size of 1.09 in delayed posttests. These results supported the consensus that focus on form through CF is beneficial.
Lyster and Saito (2010) performed a meta-analysis of quasi-experimental studies carried out in classroom settings. They aimed to measure the importance of CF in language pedagogy, focusing on various independent and dependent factors (i.e., timing of posttests, CF types, and types of outcome measures) and examining the effects of CF in relation to instructional settings, length of treatment, and age. The Results indicated that, regardless of instructional settings, CF is facilitative of second language (L2) development, and that its impact is sustained at least until delayed posttests.
Abadikhah and Ashoori (2012) conducted a study to explore whether collaborative output and written corrective feedback have any effect on the performance of EFL learners after pair-work activity. The findings of this study showed that the students who received written feedback on their productions outperformed those who did not receive feedback. In the same way, the significance of CF in language pedagogy cannot be refuted. As Golshan and Ramachandra (2012) confirmed, a generous allocation of the language teaching handbooks to error correction indicates that this aspect of teaching practice deserves due attention in a classroom setting (Hedge, 2000; Harmer, 2007; Folse, 2009).
Shirazi and Sadighi (2012) examined the effectiveness of two feedback types, namely elicitation and recast. The post test and delayed post test outcomes empirically supported the fact that the learners’ exposure to communicative activities in juxtaposition with consciousness raising activities such as error correction is more