Approaches To Teaching EFL Writing

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Feedback in writing has recently received a growing interest from SLA researchers due to its instrumental role in second language education. Literature suggests that as an important component of language, writing skill in a second language can greatly benefit from teachers' comments particularly in the form of written feedback on learners' written products. Previous research has investigated the role of teachers' corrective feedback on learners' written assignments (e.g., Ferris & Roberts 2001, Ferris 2004; Harmer, 2001) and learners' expectations on teachers' error correction in their written work (e.g., Lee, 2009; Nunan 1999; Williams, 2001). These studies suggest that for improvement of learners' writing skills in a second language teacher feedback is indispensable.

With this in mind, this chapter discusses the importance of feedback in development of EFL learners' writing skills in tandem with key issues and previous studies related to corrective feedback in the literature. It first discusses the nature of writing as one of the four main skills in language acquisition/learning (i.e., listening, speaking, reading, and writing) and common approaches undertaken to teaching writing in EFL contexts. It then discusses what feedback entails and identifies different types of error correction followed by a discussion of the role of feedback in EFL education in classroom setting. Finally, this chapter summarizes and concludes the literature review which provides insights into understanding better feedback practices in EFL classrooms.

What is Writing?

For any study that involves investigation of learners' written work, it seems necessary to establish a working definition of writing. Numerous assumptions and definitions have been proposed to specify the concept of "writing" in the literature. Customarily, writing refers to a set of visible signs representing elements of a language which are arranged systematically. This system is referred to as writing system of the language. Coulmas (2003) defines writing as a "set of visible or tactile signs used to represent unit of language in a systematic way, with the purpose of recording messages which can be retrieved by everyone who knows the language in question and the rules by virtue of which its units are encoded in the writing system. Bryne (1979) views writing as transforming our thoughts into language; a very complex skill that requires both physical and mental activity on the part of writer. Bryne (1979) further notes that writing is the last and perhaps most difficult skill learners learn if they ever do. While these definitions provide an understanding of the nature of 'writing' and its qualities, what is obvious is the fact that writing is a complex and demanding process that is difficult to master particularly for those who want to produce accurate and precise pieces of writing in a second language.

Among various reasons cited for complications attributed to writing, Bryne (1991) suggests three main causes that make writing an arduous task. The first, that he calls psychological problem, is caused as a result of lack of interaction and feedback between the reader and the writer. As such, to tackle this kind of problems writers rely to a great extent to their readers' feedback and evaluation of their written product. Understanding this problem is of importance for language learners to improve their writing since they need to take into account their audience's likes and dislikes. The second complexity is language related; that is, lack of adequate linguistic knowledge prevents us from fully monitoring what we intend to say. This shows that linguistic competence in dominantly instrumental in developing writing skills. The third problem is cognitive, whose causes can be linked it instructional inadequacies. This emphasizes the role of writing courses in framing learners' writing abilities as well as language teachers' central roles as providers of appropriate input and feedback in such courses. As such, in light of this short review on the nature of writing task and what factors might influence a second language learners' attainment of this skill, it can be inferred that teaching writing can be informed by the teachers' perspectives towards such a practice in instructional settings. To further illustrate this point, the next section presents two of the most common approaches to teaching writing in a second language.

Approaches To Teaching EFL Writing

Writing as a Product

The first approach to teaching writing, which has been known as traditional approach, is product approach, which focuses on the final product, the coherent and the error-free text (Nunan, 1999).This approach has been practiced widely since the 1950s well into 1970s. Britton (1996:30) noted that product approach emphasized "correct usage, correct grammar and correct spelling" in the language and that it stressed overwhelming attention toward "…topic sentence, the various methods of developing the paragraph… and the holy trinity of unity, coherence" and other aspects of writing.

Additionally, in this approach, composing is primarily viewed as a linear process that predictably starts with a topic selection to pre-writing activities, followed by actual writing and editing. The teacher only looks at the paper when it is done.

Selection of topic

Pre-writing activities


Rewriting, editing, proofreading

Figure 1: Process Line (Product Approach)

There are basically two main concerns with the product approach: the written product, and the grammatical accuracy. The emphasis on written product is clear in the fact that the teacher only responds to the composition once it is finished, and not before or while it is in progress. According to Jordan (1997:11), during the practice of product approach, "…a model is provided with various exercises undertaken" for learners to be able to internalize the prescribed patterns. Then, learners are "…required to product similar or parallel text". Nunan (1999) mentioned that the composing process in the traditional approach is viewed as linear process. It proceeds systematically from the planning or prewriting stages, to composing stage, to the revising stage (usually nothing more than copy-editing), and the final draft stage, with the writer progressing from one stage to the next without backtracking. The piece of writing handed in by the learners is the final text and is supposed to be his/her best piece of work where further revision in not needed. The feedback and correction made on the texts by the teachers would not make any difference at this stage. The focus of this approach is on the final, the coherent, error-free text, thus it is also known as the product oriented approach (Nunan 1999).

As such, looking at this direct effect, the product approach does not appear to fulfill the true nature of writing. It stops short at considering writing being a skill by itself, not just a manner to attain linguistic competence. It is lacking in terms of interaction between the teacher and the text, where teachers will only see the final product, not knowing how it was developed. Lastly, as it assumes that writing is a linear process and that learners know exactly what to write about in their writing, it fails to consider how learners develop their ideas and meaning.

Writing as a Process

The second approach of teaching writing that has been dominant over the recent years and is opposed to traditional ways of teaching writing is process approach. The predominance of process approach has given rise to the role of feedback as an essential component of writing courses. The notion of writing as process was introduced to EFL studies by Zamel (1976), who argued that advanced EFL writers are similar to L1 writers and can benefit from instruction emphasizing the process of writing. As opposed to the view of writing as a reproduction of previously learned syntactic or discourse structures, the process-based approach emphasized the view of writing as a process of developing organization as well as meaning. In light of this view, invention strategies, multiple drafts, and formative feedback from by the teacher and/or the peers are also considered important parts of writing instruction in EFL writing classrooms.

A research conducted by Zamel (1983) has revealed that composing is a non-linear, exploratory, and generative process whereby writers discover and reformulate their ideas i.e., writers often backtrack and revise from the moment they start till they finish the final draft. Writers go back and forth from one stage to another is a non-systematic way. Written texts under this approach are not treated as a final and fixed product but as part of complex process, which is recursive. There would be many drafts written by the learners on a single topic and teachers would response to every draft in order to help improve their writing and finally attaining the best written piece. The whole process begin by the learners writing their first draft and submitting later to their teacher for feedback. After writing their feedback on the learners' essays, the teacher returns them to the learners . The learners write another draft by taking into consideration teachers' feedback. The process then is repeated with draft going back and forth between the teacher and the learners. If a learner's draft is still not satisfactory to both the learner himself/herself and the learners draft would be repeat. That means the additional draft would be the final piece of learners' writing to be submitted to the teacher. Hence, what is evident here is that in traditional approach (i.e., product approach) response is given once, whereas in the process approach, responses would be given in many drafts. The intention is to build up learners' confidence and also slowly attain the best piece of writing.

In this approach, the main concern of the teacher is to help learners develop their ideas, therefore, throughout the earlier writing stages; the teacher would be stressing more on content. Nunan (1999) notes that the teacher focuses less on a perfect final draft product than the development of successive drafts of a text. He further states that the focus in the first instance is on quantity rather than quality, and writers are encouraged to get their ideas onto paper without worrying too much about formal correctness in the initial stages. Because of this, the traditional way of responding to a composition would not be suitable to the process writing approach. In the same token, Nunan (2001) clearly states how very different the "process" approach is from the traditional product-oriented approach. He contends that whereas the product approach focuses on writing tasks in which the learner imitates, copies and transforms teacher supplied models, the process approach focuses on the steps involved in creating a piece of work. The primary goal of product writing is then an error-free coherent text while process writing allows for the fact that no text can be perfect, but that a writer will get closer to perfection by producing, reflecting on, discussing and reworking successive drafts of a text. In sum, this body of literature indicates that that most scholar nowadays advocate the process approach to teaching and learning writing, and perhaps most of them would agree on this important point that: good product depends on good process.

What is Feedback?

The term 'feedback" in this review and incidentally in this study embraces the notions of "correction", "marking", "evaluation" and "responding". It includes what Diab (2006) terms as "correction feedback" which refers to the editing type and "evaluative feedback" with reference to the judging type. In effect, the term "feedback" in this study refers to any "information provided to learners about the appropriateness of their performance or the general accuracy of their answers" (Diab 2006). As these definitions imply, the notion of feedback on writing was traditionally understood as "error corrections" teachers made to learners' writings. Hence, a brief review of the corrections customarily provided on learners' writing errors is in order in the next section.

Error Correction

When learners have completed their written assignments, teachers are expected to correct them. The corrections then serve to help the learners' language development by showing where their knowledge is lacking. Truscott (1996) defined error correction as the "correction of grammatical errors for the purpose of improving a learner's ability to write accurately" (329). This definition can be broadened to include lexical errors, including word choice, word form, capitalization, and typing conventions (Truscott, 1996). However, in terms of second language writing, this definition focuses on the mechanical and form-focused aspects of writing and showing little concern for the organizational types of corrections made by the teachers. Thus, error correction should cover feedback on both linguistic and non-linguistic skills of writing. Non-linguistic features could include instructions on paragraph development, topic string (consistent links throughout the text to relate all parts to the topic), suitable transitions between paragraphs, inclusion of preambles and signposts to increase the overall readability of the written work.

Thus, these concepts indicate the extensiveness of the scope of error correction indicating its vital role in developing learner writing in a second language. Learners have a mental picture of how they think a certain grammar rule works, and the corrections should help learners to adjust that picture when they are mistaken (Krashen & Terell, 1985:177). Many teachers look at learners' errors as part of learning process. But how do we know the extent to which we can let errors recover on their own? What types of errors are to be given more attention to? Therefore, while providing corrections on learners' assignments several essential factors should be taken into account.

Hendrickson (1980) arguing that simply providing all the correct forms in learners' imperfect sentences is an ordeal that can be frustrating to teachers outlines four critical learner factors that have to be considered in error correction. First, one needs to be aware of learners' purpose and goals for communicating in writing. Second, the teacher must take into account the learners' proficiency in the target language at any given time. The third critical factor is the teacher's awareness or error types and frequencies as well as how these aspects relate to the learners' goals. The final and probably the most critical factor is the learners' attitudes towards the nature of correction.

Feedback, whether it is given through corrections or comments, has the purpose of supporting learners' learning. Race (2005:95) cites four purposes for feedback: (1) It should help learners to make sense of their work in some way, (2) It should clarify the need of learning by showing the learners what they should be trying to achieve; what the outcome of their work should look like, (3) Its should enhance learners' willingness to learn, and finally yet importantly, (4) Feedback should motivate the learners to develop their skills.

What becomes evident from the above stated aims is that feedback is highly instrumental in helping language learners improve their level of awareness in learning by making as less mistakes as possible. At the bottom of this reasoning is the fundamental belief that by making the learners aware of the error they make and by getting them to act on those errors in some way, then it is believed that the learners will assimilate the mistakes and eventually not make them in future. In other words, correction is closely linked to language acquisition and particularly to the idea of accurately acquiring the language. This statement itself is making sweeping statements about everything from the quality of the feedback to the ability for learners to acquire language through the feedback we offer them. However, it seems to be the heart of why we do provide feedback. Indeed one could argue that institutions and learners demand feedback and that this is the reason why we provide it, but even these two groups fundamentally believe that correction in some way leads to language acquisition and demand it for that reason.

Writers such as Ashwell (2001) have pointed out that with the increased importance of the writing process there may be other reasons for including feedback and these include improving the "communicative effectiveness" of a given written piece. In other words we correct learners and guide learners so that the written piece they eventually produce communicates their ideas as effectively as possible. This is linked closer to feedback that looks at the content of a written piece rather than the grammatical forms within it. He also points out that an additional reason for correcting learners work is simply because "formal accuracy of a written piece matters" and that people generally are a lot less accepting of mistakes in written pieces.

Having looked at the nature of the concept of feedback, what seems to be of importance in the classroom setting is the appropriateness of the type of feedback provided for certain purposes and for certain recipients. That is, teachers should use appropriate written feedback in order to get effective learners' reaction. This goes through motivating learners using their teacher's written feedback. There are many types of writing feedback and there are different types of learners' reactions. Since every learner has his / her own personal attributes, the type of teachers' written feedback given to learners will possibly affect learners' state positively or negatively. Accordingly, it is central to look at these different types of teaches' written feedback and their influence on learners' attainments.

Types of Written Feedback

Ellis (2009) in his article titled "A typology of written corrective feedback types" suggests a variety of feedback types for correcting learners' written work. He illustrates the types of feedback by examining the various options (both familiar and less familiar) from studies of written feedback that have examined the different options of feedback to date. Ellis (2009) outlines six main methods for providing written corrective feedback. This classification is also adopted to identify the types of feedback in this study. Ellis has categorized the various types of written corrective feedback into six major categories (see Table 2.1).

Table 2.1 Categories of Written Corrective Feedback (adopted from Ellis, 2009)

Written corrective feedback type


Direct CF

This occurs when the correct form is given in place of an incorrect form. It is the direct correction of error.

Indirect CF

1) Indicating only

2) Indicating the specific location

Indirect CF occurs when an error is indicated but the correct form is not given. Ellis

identifies two types of indirect CF:

1) Indicating only is when an error is noted, such as in the margin, but the exact location is not provided.

2) Indicating the specific location is when the error is underlined or given specific reference.


1) Error codes

2) Brief grammatical description

Metalinguistic feedback occurs when the writer is given a linguistic clue of the error. This can

take two forms:

1) The use of abbreviations or error codes

2) A brief grammatical explanation

usually given at the bottom of the text

or on an attached form

The focus of the feedback

1) Focused

2) Unfocused

Feedback can take a variety of forms in the way it is given, such as the level of focus.

1) Focused feedback occurs when a limited number of language features are concentrated on.

2) Unfocused feedback occurs when many or all language features are addressed in the feedback.


Electronic feedback occurs via computer mediated methods when a hyperlink is used to indicate an error has occurred.


Reformulation occurs when a first language user rewrites or reformulates the targeted second language learner's text.

Due to the significance of Ellis's (2009) classification of feedback types in informing the analysis of the data and providing insights into this study the most important feedback types outlined in the proposed scheme will be illustrated in the preceding sections.

Direct Versus Indirect Feedback

A first distinction in Ellis's (2009) classification is made between direct and indirect feedback. Direct feedback refers to highlighting the errors and providing the correct forms to the learners. That is, the correct form is given in place of an incorrect form. Ellis (2009) states that direct feedback has advantage because it will explicit guidance for the learners about how to correct their errors. Similarly, Bartram and Walton, (1991: 84) mentioned that "direct corrective feedback, is implemented through underlining the errors and providing the right forms in the learners' written work". Examples (1) and (2) below illustrate the direct and indirect types of feedback respectively.


at is health

Sleeping late in night are very bad for our heelth and brain.

As demonstrated in example (1), direct feedback can be provided by indication of the errors accompanied with their correct forms and explanations while in case of indirect corrective feedback, learners' errors can be indicated by underlining the errors without any explanation or correcting it. This is can be done by indicating where errors are located only. Example (2) shows indirect feedback.


Sleeping late in night are very bad for our heelth and brain.

Concurring with Ellis (2009), Ferris and Roberts (2001) suggest that direct corrective feedback is better than indirect corrective feedback with learners/writers of low levels of proficiency, but conversely, Hedge (2000) argues that "the dangers of its spoon-feeding effect are that learners overlook their own role in the correction process and may become passive". This is because learners can just mechanically copy the ready-made correction without figuring out the reasons. To make full use of the advantages of direct feedback and indirect feedback and avoid their disadvantages, teachers can consider combining them together.

Focused Versus Unfocused Feedback

A second distinction in feedback typology is made between focused and unfocused corrective feedback. Ellis (2009) states that in focused corrective feedback much attention is given on one or two types of error which assists the learner to examine several corrections on the same type of error. In unfocused corrective feedback, on the other hand, the learner or the learner is asked to engage in different type of errors, which may confuse the learner focusing on the error. Focused and unfocused correction feedback can also involve all other types of feedback such as direct, indirect, metalinguistic, focused versus unfocused and electronic corrective feedback (Ellis, ibid).

Written corrective feedback studies (e.g., Bitchener, Young & Cameron, 2005; Truscott, 2009; Sheen, 2007) suggest that when written corrective feedback is focused it is likely to be more effective in promoting acquisition, than unfocused corrective feedback. Sheen (2007), for example, in his study using focused corrective feedback found that such approach is effective in promoting more accurate language use.

In a similar vein, Sheen at el.'s (2009) studied six intact language classrooms in a pre-academic non-credit EFL program in a US college. The researchers seem to be more focused on two types of written correction (focused and unfocused) and they attempted to investigate the effects in using use adult EFL learners' accurate use of English articles, use of grammatical features other than that which is the focus of the correction and the effect for written narrative tasks without error correction on the accurate use of grammatical features other than that which is the focus of the correction. The results confirmed the effectiveness of unfocused corrective feedback on learning English articles. As such, the findings from these studies recommend the teachers to select focused feedback with one or two errors types at one time rather than selecting too many types of errors.

The Role Of Written Feedback In EFL Development

The importance of feedback lies in quality, not frequency. There are some important aspects to consider before feedback is given. First, whether the provided feedback takes the learners' development into account since demonstrating their progress through feedback can create extra motivation to work more efficiently. Motivation is an important part of feedback and lack of enough motivation can lower learners' self-esteem. Giving feedback should be about motivating learners and at the same time focus on what they need to improve. This is a difficult balance to keep (Hyland & Hyland, 2001:187). As such, the teacher needs to emphasize the efforts the learners made; that is highlighting the learners' effort rather than the outcome or the effect it has had on the teacher. There is a difference between "I see that you have worked very hard, good job!" and "I appreciate the hard work you have done!" As the latter suggests that the work was done for the teacher, while the former focuses on the learners' effort. The learners should feel that they work for themselves, not for the teacher (Good and Brophy, 1994:147).

A second important aspect of feedback deals with whether the given feedback is based on a conscious strategy or it is provided without any consistent pattern. What this means is that teachers need to establish a consistent and conscious strategy in providing written feedback, so that learners become aware of the patterns of writing that is pointed out consistently by the teacher.

However, a third aspect of feedback comes into play when tutors need to provide as various feedback as possible. Only writing "Wow!" does not say much about the work the learners have carried out. It is better to point out the parts that are impressive and explain why. Also, variation is necessary because if a teacher, for example, constantly writes "Good job!" the learners might not find it genuine and disregard it (Good & Brophy, 1994:147). In the same token, as Harmer (2005) contends, there are more effective ways of correcting than underlining, crossing-out and putting question marks in learners' written assignments. Keeping these points in mind could help to make feedback more useful for the learners, and also more appreciated.

Variation may also be created through different ways of providing corrections on learners' works. For instance, they may use selective correction which means not correcting every mistake the learners make. For selective corrections, the learners must be told before they start writing. If a teacher announces that, for example, only punctuation will be corrected, the learners might concentrate harder and make fewer mistakes in that area. Using correction symbols may be another way adding to variation and effectiveness of correcting. This reduces the amount of red ink all over the essay, which often lowers the learners' motivation. Additionally, Harmer (2005:111) mentions reformulation, which means that the teacher shows how a particular sentence can be formulated in another way. That enables the learner to compare a correct version with an incorrect one. Moreover, referring to a dictionary in the feedback is yet another way to make learners learn. They have to look something up with a purpose in mind. In this way, they learn as they correct. For instance, if a mistake is difficult to explain, teachers can write "ask me" next to it so they can explain the mistake to the learner face-to-face.

The fourth and final point central to providing effective feedback is to note whether it is restricted to form or it provides insights into the content as well. Gray (2004) suggests that effective feedback should concentrate on content, rather than form; check to see if the learners write fluently. Have they tried to use new words? Do they have the knowledge of going around the problems when their vocabulary is not extensive enough? There are more aspects to look at than only grammar. Hence, it would be a misconception if teachers focus only on mechanical error correction instead of seeking excellence in the learners' writing development. With this in mind, the next section presents relevant issues in and appropriate methods of error correction in writing courses.

In sum, this brief review indicates that in order to provide effective feedback, EFL teachers need to take into considerations different factors including learner motivation, teacher awareness of his/her feedback strategy, implementation of various types of feedback, and inclusion of both form-focused and content-related corrections in their feedback. These methods of providing feedback can be contrasted to traditional practices of error correction that focused mainly on formal or grammatical aspects of language.

Williams (2001) suggests two main shortcomings of traditional methods of correcting grammatical errors. First, correction of learners' errors has been found to be unclear and inconsistent when it deals with teacher's written feedback. Second, using the traditional methods, learners simply copy their teacher's feedback correction and use it in their subsequent drafts. Majority of the learners do not take their teacher's written feedback into consideration and study those errors. Rewriting or copying the mistakes without recognizing the essence of the error will create a passive action preventing learners to learn from their mistake. Thus, giving the learners the correct feedback will motivate them with their writing task in a new piece of writing.

2.8 Research Into Types of Feedback on Learners' Writing

Feedback is just one aspect of EFL education; the other piece of an effective EFL learning programme would be feedback. Feedback occurs between teachers and learners in particular cultural, institutional, and inter-personal contexts, and learner responses are affected by different aspects of the context (Lee, 2009). In the context of EFL education, Lee (2009) examined learner perspectives on teacher feedback, wherein it has been established that in EFL education feedback anchored on the learner's personality and personal needs are perceived to be more effective. Hence, the perception of learners with regard to feedback mechanisms often depends on the manner by which the EFL teacher conducts both assessment and feedback mechanisms.

In another study, Diab (2005) examined the teacher preferences with regard to error correction and feedback. Through a thorough review of literature, Diab (ibid) was able to observe that more often than not, foreign language learners have different responses to feedbacks regarding pronunciation, error correction, and the importance given to grammar and vocabulary are often different from that of their tutors. Furthermore, Diab (2005) also indicted in his article that foreign language learners are more responsive to corrective feedback, both written and spoken than tutors. This is a good point raised in the sense that effort for a successful EFL programme should not only emanate from the willingness of the learners to learn but also in the ability of the tutors to be efficient and effective in performing their functions.

Hyland (2003) in her article supported the observations raised by both Diab (2005) and Lee (2009), particularly the emphasis given on the engagement of both learner and teacher in the feedback process. Overall, Hyland (2003) focused on the written feedback given by teachers to EFL learners in order to promote writing development. Under these conditions, the positive attribute of Hyland's (ibid) article is that it also identified the problems with traditional feedback mechanisms such as feedback focused on grammar correction is often discouraging and unhelpful to EFL learners.

The justification behind this is that EFL tutors often lack the necessary skills to explain the learner's problems while the learners often lack the skills to understand the use of suck feedback. Another positive attribute of Hyland's (2003) study is that she supported her assertions with empirical data as well as relevant literature from other scholars who explored the domain of feedback and EFL education. As for the research gap in the study, after identifying both the positive and the negative attributes of feedback in EFL education, Hyland (2003) was not able to identify how the strengths of using feedback can be utilised to overcome its detrimental aspects.

The study made by Nabei and Swain (2002) was conducted in the context of Japanese schools and the findings indicate that teacher feedbacks are often infrequent under EFL thus hindering the interactive facet of EFL learning, which leads to slow progress on the part of the learners. Nabei and Swain (2002) explored the effect of recast feedback in EFL classroom in relation to the learner's responsiveness, awareness and understanding of the conditions of the secondary language being taught. The advantage of the study is that it relied on a case study as its primary research design which is indicative of the details that are necessary in designing the competent EFL education programmes.

Ellis at el. (2008) were conducted their study to see how corrective feedback help Japanese learners of English to become more accurate in the use of the English writing and to see the difference in the effect of focused and unfocused corrective feedback directed at using the indefinite and definite articles to express first and second mention. This study indicates that written corrective feedback is effective, at least where English articles are concerned, and thus strengthens the case for teachers providing written corrective feedback. However, Elli at el (2008) did not show a clear difference in the effect of corrective feedback between focused and unfocused groups.

However, some of researchers have distinguished between focused and unfocused corrective feedback. Sheen at el., (2009) conducted their study at a US college in the Washington from six intact language classrooms in a pre-academic non-credit EFL program. the researchers seem to be more focused on two types of written correction (focused and unfocused) and they attempt to investigate the effects in using use adult EFL learners' accurate use of English articles, use of grammatical features other than that which is the focus of the correction and the effect for written narrative tasks without error correction on the accurate use of grammatical features other than that which is the focus of the correction. Sheen at el. (2009) in their study shown that the focused corrective feedback group outperformed the control group whereas the unfocused corrective feedback group did not. These results suggest that focused corrective feedback is more effective than unfocused corrective feedback on the learning of English articles.

Furthermore, in examining the effect of focused written feedback provided by the teachers, Sheen (2007) conducted a study to identify how the focused written feedback with and without metalinguistic feedback has effect to improve learners' writing skills and what the language aptitude toward EFL learners' acquisition of articles. In addition, the researcher looks to investigate the learners' ability to understand the feedback. This study set out to investigate the effects of just written corrections on intermediate EFL learners' use of English articles in narratives writing essays. The study concluded with very clear results. It reported that the effects of the corrective feedback were evident in statistically significant gains on all three tests in comparison to a control group. This study, then, provides clear evidence that the written correction can have a positive effect on learners' ability to use articles accurately and the learners have a high level of language analytic ability benefited more from both types of corrective feedback. In other words, the main question in this study was whether the feedback has effectiveness in learners' writing accuracy and simply the answer was "yes" based on its results.

In the study carried out by Bitchener, Young, & Cameron (2005), it focused on the effects of direct written corrective feedback and combine with feedback in five-minute oral conferences with individual writers on three types of error (prepositions, the past simple and the definite article). This study assessed the effect of different types of feedback by using three treatment groups based on their choice in study whether is full-time class for 20 hours per week, part time class for 10 hours per week or part time class for 4 hours per week. The study found a significant effect for the combination of written and conference feedback on accuracy levels in the use of the past simple tense and the definite article in new pieces of writing but no overall effect on accuracy improvement for feedback types when the three error categories were considered as a single group. In other words, the researchers found that the corrective feedback led to improved accuracy on both the use of past simple and articles, but not prepositions over a 12-week period. In addition, they clime that in the process of acquiring new linguistic forms, may perform them with accuracy in one case but fail to do so on other similar cases. However, the difference in this study with others studies was that this study testifies to the joint effect of written and oral corrective feedback on learners' writing.

Bitchener and Knoch (2009), conducted their study to answer the central research question which is, does accuracy in the use of two functions of the English article system improve over ten-month period as a result of written corrective feedback? Therefore, this study investigated the effect of targeting two functional uses of the English article system: the referential indefinite article 'a' for referring to something the first time (first mention) and the referential definite article 'the' for referring to something already mentioned (subsequent mention). This research used writing essay as instrument to see the learners' accuracy in using two English article (a, the) during five times. Each of the five pieces of writing, the learners required a description of what was happening in a given picture and they have thirty minutes to complete each description. As a result, we can say the Bitchener and Knoch (2009) concluded clear result which that the Learners who received written corrective feedback outperformed those who received no feedback in all four post-tests even though all groups developed differently over time. The enduring effect on accuracy over a ten-month period is clear evidence of the potential for focused written corrective feedback to help learners acquire features of a second language.

Chandler (2003) showed that teacher' feedback on learners' grammatical and lexical errors resulted in a significant improvement in both accuracy and fluency in writing of the same type over the same semester.

However, Ferris (2003) reported that teachers should provide feedback about a variety of writing issues based on the needs of the learners, the stage of the text, the type of the assignment and largely on the expectation of the learners.

From the title "A typology of corrective feedback types" we can realize that the researcher focused on clarifying the different types of corrective feedback. Ellis (2009) in his study attempts to give a complete picture about a typology of corrective feedback which is available to teachers and researchers. The researcher distinguishes the typology of corrective feedback into two sets which are '1" techniques or strategies for providing feedback such ad direct, indirect or metalinguistic and '2' the learners' response to feedback such as, revision and correction.

Ellis (2009) built his study, based on what Hyland and Hyland 2006 have been said about feedback. They said "while feedback is a central aspect of EFLwriting programs across the world, the research literature has not been equivocally positive about its role in EFL development, and teachers often have a sense they are not making use of its full potential"(Hyland & Hyland, 2006: 83). Therefore, Ellis (2009) like to make a start on this agenda by examining the various options (both familiar and less familiar) for correcting learners' written work. The researcher focused on one kind of correction which is the correction of linguistic errors and considers studies that have examined the different options by way of illustrating how they have been investigated. This research made a very clear literature review for the studies which have been done in a typology of options for correcting linguistic errors by scheduling these studies in table. The table consists of three columns. The first column provided the type of corrective feedback that the pervious researchers have examined, and the second provided the explanation or description of each type, and the third column provided the name of the researchers and the year' conducted the study.

Ellis (2009) concluded that, there is an obvious need for carefully designed studies to further investigate the effects of written CF in general and of different types of CF. A typology such as the one outlined in his article provides a classification of one of the key variables in written CF studies the type of CF. It makes it possible for researchers to conduct research that systematically examines the effect of distinct types and combinations of CF.

Based on the fact that revision plays a central role in good writing. Truscott & Yi-ping (2008) conducted their study to look at the effects of error correction during the revision process. The researchers attempt to make a comparison between the first and second draft of the learners writing to see if the learner's improvement success during revision or not. To investigate its purpose, this study use writing narrative essay for both group. But the first group "underline group" had received their errors underlined and used this feedback in the revision task while the other group "control group" did the same task without feedback. As a result, Truscott & Yi-ping concluded that their finding confirm that correction help learners reduce their error on the writing on which they receive the correction. Also, they concluded that learners who had received correction on narrative 1 and therefore were more successful in reducing their errors during revision did not differ from the learners who had received no correction and therefore did not perform as well on the revision. In other hand, this study found that, no relation between success on the revision task and learning as measured by performance on a new writing task.

Researchers such as Ferris, 1995 Frantzen and Rissel 1987 and Likei, 1991 reveal that in situation where revision is the main component of the pedagogy, learners may remain in doubt about what to do with expert's response and how to incorporate it into their revision process. The situation whereby learners are unable to understand and use teachers' feedback in their revisions usually exist in a EFL writing classroom. Researchers suck as Zamel (1983), Cohen (1987) and Raimes (1987) attribute this issue in a part to writing teacher who focus on from without introducing the actual ideas and meaning conveyed in the text.

In addition, other researcher (Leki, 1990) mention that the problem is further highlighted when writing teachers themselves are often unsure of the best way to give written feedback to their learners. Thus it can be seen that the learners' expectations of the types of teacher feedback must be in matching with the types of feedback actually given by writing teachers. If this situation can be made to exist in EFL classroom, then learners able to notice understand and utilize experts' feedback in their writing and revision strategies.


This research will therefore not be successful without the assistance of earlier researchers that have been done in the area of teachers, feedback on learners writing. These studies are very important in supporting this particular study. Furthermore, this section describes two types of feedback which are focused and unfocused corrective feedback on EFL learners and theoretical framework of this study. The literature review shows that differences do exist in the effect of feedback between the two different groups (focused and unfocused), where each group has different results. Apparently, most of the literature has shown that focused corrective feedback has more impact in improving the learners' writing than unfocused among EFL learners.

From the literature review it is clear that focused and unfocused corrective feedback play important role in writing achievement in EFL learners. Thus, the researcher realizes this need to carry out this study to fill in the gap in the research of focused and unfocused feedback where is no empirical study conducted in Libyan or Arabic region as EFL learners by Arabic researchers on corrective feedback. It is hoped that this study will be able to confirm or refute the finding presented in the review.

The next chapter presents the methodology used to answer the research questions led by the objectives of the study.