that, recasts can also be quite explicit, depending on discourse context, instructional setting, and learner orientation as well as formal characteristics such as linguistic targets, length, and number of changes (Nicholas et al., 2001; Sheen, 2004, 2006; Ellis & Sheen, 2006; Sato 2011).
Farrar (1990, 1992) confirmed the use of recasts, claiming that they provide positive evidence, i.e., what is grammatical in the target language, and possibly also negative evidence, i.e., what is ungrammatical in the target language. Similarly, Ellis and Sheen (2006) regarded recasts as both positive and negative evidence if learners recognize the teacher’s corrective intention but only as positive evidence if learners are not consciously alive to their illocutionary force (see also Leeman, 2003).
There are a number of studies which are in support of recasts in improving foreign language students’ learning process. Long and Robinson (1998) suggested that recasts are effective to show learners how their interlanguage differs from that target language. Nicholas et al. (2001) considered recasts as a feedback to language learners, coming to the conclusion that “recasts appear to be the most effective in the contexts where it is clear to learners that the recast is a reaction to the accuracy of the form, not the content, of the original utterance” (p. 720). Another piece of evidence on the use of recasts is Lyster’s (2001) study in which he investigated specific patterns of a reactive approach to form-focused instruction, which could be named corrective feedback. It was found that grammatical and phonological errors tended to invite recasts while lexical errors attracted more negotiation of form than recasts.
Han (2002) investigated the impact of recasts on tense consistency in L2 output. She designed a pretest, posttest, and a delayed posttest. The participants were randomly divided into a recast group and a non-recast group. The database was composed of written and oral narratives from both groups collected during eleven sessions. The statistical analysis showed that owing to their heightened awareness, the recast group outperformed the non-recast group in showing a much greater control of tense consistency in both oral and written tests. Moreover, Mackey and Oliver (2002) found that children are more sensitive to recasts owing to the fact that recasts bear a striking similarity to first language (L1) feedback given by caregivers.
Also, Leeman (2003) carried out a study with 74 freshmen university learners of Spanish using Spanish noun-adjective agreement. The (A) recast group, (B) negative evidence group, (C) enhanced salience with no feedback group, and (D) control group performed communicative tasks one-on-one with the researcher. The findings from a posttest and delayed posttest with picture description tasks revealed that only groups A and C outperformed the control group on different measures. And the recast group outperformed the control group.
Regarding the short-term benefits of recasts, Iwashita (2003) conducted a study with the focus on two grammatical structures in the task-based conversational interactions occurring between adult learners of Japanese and NSs. The findings revealed the positive effect of recasts on students’ grammar. Leeman (2003) found recasts to be an effective type of corrective feedback. Although several studies proved corrective feedback to be an effective form of interaction (Carrol & Swain, 1993; Nagata, 1993; Muranoi, 2000; Carroll, 2001; Havranek & Cesnik, 2001; Lyster, 2004; Ellis et al., 2006), they showed that there is not a significant difference between implicit and explicit one (DeKeyser, 1993; Kim & Mathes, 2001).
For the same reason, Ishida (2004) studied the effects of recasting on the acquisition of Japanese aspectual form –te i (ru), leading to the significantly increased overall accuracy in correlation with the number of recasts provided during the treatment period, and the accuracy rate was retained. Ellis and sheen (2006) highlighted the role of recasting and the probability of overestimation about its acquisition value in comparison to other forms of corrective feedback.
One sample research on recasting is Carpenter, Jeon, MacGregor, and Mackey’s (2006) investigation of learners’ interpretations of recasts in interaction. Video tapes of task-based interactions including recasts and repetitions were shown to advanced ESL students. Both groups viewed the teacher’s feedback (recasts, repetition, or other). After each clip, learners in both groups were asked to indicate whether they thought they were hearing a recast, a repetition, or something else. In general, recast studies showed the effectiveness of this type of corrective feedback both in terms of students’ recognition and L2 acquisition (Ellis, 2006).
In addition, McDonough (2007) examined the effectiveness of recasts and clarification requests as either of them could provide opportunities for immediate repair. They detected no crucial distinction between recasts and clarification requests, even though both CF types were more effective than no CF. To take this idea one step further, Perdomo (2008) examined the effectiveness of oral recasts on the right use of the auxiliary verb “to have”, and the use of past participles in the present perfect tense. Positive feedback was provided for the experimental groups: recast and explicit negative feedback. Pictures were used to elicit conversation, and an oral test was administered to collect the data. Findings lead support to the efficacy of recasts over explicit negative feedback.
Likewise, Sheen (2008) examined the effects of language anxiety on recast effectiveness and she concluded that low-anxiety learners receiving recasts appreciably outperformed both high-anxiety learners receiving recasts and low-anxiety learners receiving no recasts in a control group. Findings do not show a difference between the high-anxiety recast group and the control groups. R´ev´esz, Sachs, and Mackey (2011) found in their study of high school EFL learners in Hungary that immediate repair following recasts of past progressive forms was a strong positive predictor of development when learners were engaged in less complex tasks.
Recently, Saito and Lyster (2012) investigated the pedagogical value of recasts on the acquisition of /r/ by adult Japanese learners of English. Students in the experimental groups engaged in tasks designed to develop argumentative skills in English while drawing attention to the target form through typographically enhanced input and providing opportunities for production practice. At the same time, teachers provided CF only to those in the CF group by recasting their mispronunciation and unclear pronunciation of /r/. The results of the analyses showed only those who received recasts during the tasks demonstrated gains, not only at a controlled-speech level, but also at a spontaneous-speech level. They found that, with adult Japanese learners of English, recasts were more effective than no CF for improving pronunciation of familiar lexical items but not for unfamiliar items.
More recently, the distribution of different CF types across a range of instructional settings were well documented by a large number of classroom observational studies. For example, Lyster et al. (2013) provided a selection of 12 descriptive studies that appears in Table 2.1, arranged in increasing order of the rate of CF observed per hour. The most frequent occurrence is for recasts in seven of the twelve studies compared with explicit correction which occurs least in all studies apart from high school French L2 in Quebec.
Table 2.1 Twelve Descriptive Studies of Classroom CF in Ascending Order of CF Moves per Hour (Adopted from Lyster et al., 2013)
Proportion of CF types
Total Total CF CF moves Explicit
Instructional context hours moves per hour Recasts correction
۱ High school EFL in china 6 36 6 31% 8%
۲ High school French L2 in 12 73 6 25% 46%
Quebec (Simard & Jean, 2011)
۳ High school EFL in Hong Kong 16 174 11 48% 14%
۴ English immersion in Korea (Lee, 10 133 13 53% 8%
۵ Adult EFL in Korea (Sheen, 2004) 12 186 16 83% 11%
۶ Adult ESL in New Zealand (Ellis et al., 12 189 16 68% 13%
۲۰۰۱, recoded in Sheen, 2004)
۷ Japanese immersion in USA (Lyster & 15 259 17 65% 9%
۸ English & Spanish immersion in 70 1186 17 12% 11%
۹ High school ESL in Quebec (Simard 8 235 28 41% 18%
& Jean, 2011)
۱۰ French immersion in Quebec (Lyster 18 686 38 55% 7%
& Ranta, 1997)
۱۱ German FL in Belgian 10 394 39 30% 14%
Dutch-speaking high schools
۱۲ Adult ESL in Quebec (Panova & 10 412 41 77% 2%
Declarative and Interrogative Recasts
Lyster (1998b) classified recasts into two major types: declarative and interrogative. Declarative recast is provided with falling intonation as a declarative statement. Interrogative recast is provided with rising intonation as a question. Lyster (1998a) stated that “interrogative recasts often serve as confirmation checks” (P. 201).
Sheen (2006) stated that students are most likely to repair their errors following declarative recasts. She also pointed out that interrogative recasts did not lead to a high level of repair declaring that “uptake and subsequent repair are more likely when the linguistic focus of recasts is on pronunciation and when the type of change involved substitution because these characteristics are linked with length, word or short phrase, and a single change” (P. 386). In a word, interrogative recasts were not beneficial to repair.