In The Context Of Sla English Language Essay


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In the context of SLA, Corrective Feedback is a highly significant debated topic as it is an issue which has been long discussed throughout the last decade. There has been a great number of research, published articles, and conferences regarding the issue and there has been still no agreement on whether it has any effect on learning a new language or not. Ferris states that there is a great deal of controversial research evidence on the written feedback types of teachers, actually there is no research evidence on the effect of other different feedback types, like one-on-one teacher-student conferences, peer-editing sessions, and keeping error logs. In addition to this, researchers found out that most of the writing teachers think that one-on-on teacher student conferences are more possibly more effective than written corrective feedback since "clarification, instruction and negotiation" are provided thanks to it (Bitchener, Young & Cameron, 2005). Yet, absence of evidence is not the same thing as evidence of absence. There has been scarce or little evidence so far. Considering this fact, it is aimed to contribute evidence to this ongoing very controversial CF debate with this research. Therefore, in this paper, it is investigated "the effects of different corrective feedback types on the acquisition of passives" by using two corrective feedback types; one-on-one teacher student conference and written meta-linguistic.


There has been a long debate about the value of Corrective Feedback (CF) since Trustcott's idea that corrective feedback on L2 writing is not only ineffective but also harmful, and that is why it should be abandoned (Truscott, 1996). Bitchener (2008) states that before 1996, teachers, students and researches had accepted corrective feedback developed learners' writing skills. On the other hand, Ferris (1999) strongly argues that the case for the value of correction can surely be discussed; however she asserts that there should not be any discussion for its abandonment claiming that Truscott's article (1996) puts students in jeopardy. Bitchener et al. (2005) underline that Truscott supported his arguments that CF is useless in SLA classes with the findings which were carried out by different researchers (Kepner, Semke, Sheppard) in different years in order to support his argument. Bitchener et al. (2005) mention some serious reasons for Truscott's argument; the first one is that according to Truscott it is not such an easy way to have learners develop by only giving CFs since SLA happens in a complicated and a long period of time. Second one is that both teachers and students are reluctant to give or take CFs related to some time consuming problems. Along with Truscott's argument, a growing body of study has been carried out and papers have been published and debates have been continuing about the value of CF in conferences (Bitchener et al., 2005). However, it has recently been revealed that CF is related with SLA, since learners notice L2 forms and structures thanks to it (Bitchener & Knoch, 2010) and it is helpful for learners (Bitchener et al., 2005). Bruton (2009b) criticized this controversial issue in the field as "a rather tedious sterile academic debate" and he called this "Truscott debate" blaming it for hurting the field by wasting researchers' interest. Not surprisingly, Truscott (2010a) quickly rejected to Bruton's claims by saying that the complexity of language learning and teaching is an issue in the field that it is not wise to approach matters firmly. Truscott (2010a) continues his argument asserting that "Correction has been studied in a wide variety of contexts different types of students, different types of instruction, different types of correction and it has failed in all of them."

Written Meta-linguistic Feedback Type

Written meta-linguistic explanation feedback can be categorized among direct corrective feedback types. It simply means 'the provision of grammar rules and examples at the end of a student's script with a reference back to places in the text where the error has occurred' (Bitchener, 2008). It was found out that addition of meta-linguistic explanation to direct feedback is much more effective for decreasing in learners' errors than only giving direct feedback (Bitchener et al., 2005). Sheen also noted that adding meta-linguistic comments to written feedback reveals positive evidence that learners grasp the underlying rules behind the grammar rules, thus supporting learning. Although Truscott's claims that written grammar correction is useless and even gives harm to learners, after his claim, researchers proved that there is a great effect of written CF on a new language acquisition (Sheen, 2010).

One-on-one Teacher - Student Conferences Feedback Type

One-on-one teacher-student conferences can be categorized among direct corrective feedback types as an oral meta-linguistic explanation. It means "a mini-lesson in which the rules and examples are presented, practised, and discussed; one-on-one individual conferences between teacher and student or conferences between teacher and small group of students." (Bitchener, 2008). These conferences provide learners with enough concrete and specific information (Simmons, 1984). On the other hand, Lerner (2005) states that "goals for conferencing have always been ambitious" and at the end these goals remain unfulfilled related to too many students, too little time, too much writing and too little money.

It was found out that when direct CF is combined together with written and oral meta-linguistic explanation, it contributes to the accuracy of learners' writing. Three targeted error categories; use of simple past tense, article and prepositions were investigated by different CF strategies to study to what extend these strategies are helpful on SLA (Bitchener et al, 2005). Bitchener et al. (2005) studied the combination of the different feedback types including direct written CF and one-on-one teacher student conference; however he calls for further research to investigate the effectiveness between oral and written meta-linguistic explanation. Therefore, within this framework, it is aimed to study the ,comparison of different effects between one-on-one teacher-student feedback strategy and written meta-linguistic feedback strategy on the acquisition of passive forms.

Research Questions and Predictions

1. Does one-on-one teacher-student conferences feedback strategy have any effect on EFL student writing on the acquisition of passive forms?

2. Do one-on-one teacher-student conferences have more effect than written metalinguistic feedback on the acquisition of passive forms?

Within this framework and regarding the related literature, it is predicted that one-on-on teacher-student conferences feedback strategy will have significant effect on EFL student writing on the acquisition of passive forms, and it is also predicted that on-on-one teacher-student conferences will have significantly more effect than written meta-linguistic feedback strategy on the acquisition of passive forms.


Research Site

This study will be conducted in a state university in Turkey. The scope of the English courses is to supply students with language proficiency to be able to pass the exam in the end of the year according which they will start first year or repeat preparatory class. Although four skills are dealt with in the classes, because of limited time the students focus on more grammar and writing skills than listening and speaking. All of the teachers are Turkish and the duration of class is 50 minutes.

In the preparatory program, there are three levels; beginner, intermediate and advanced. The average class size is 15 students. Most of students enroll from different cities in Turkey and they are all candidates for undergraduate programs.

The questions in the final exam assess learners' vocabulary, reading, writing, listening, speaking and comprehension skills. The intermediate level students are chosen because they already know "passives" and the difficulty of the exercises are suitable to their level.


The participants are 30 students, and 2 teachers. The students are all Turkish and their levels are intermediate. These 30 students are divided into 3 three groups. The groups are determined according to type of feedback they receive; one-on-one conference group, written metalinguistic group and control group.


Written Metalinguistic Correction: In this type of correction, the teacher corrects all of the mistakes on the paper giving both correct version and explanations. Each correction is given a number, and at the bottom of the page, metalinguistic explanation is given. An example is given at the appendix (Appendix A).

One-one-one Conferences: In this correction, the teacher meets the students individually. The teacher gives feedback on the paper to the student orally. The teacher states the mistake and correct version and gives detailed explanation. In this one-on-one conference there is two way interaction; from student to teacher and vice versa. Therefore, the students have the chance to ask for further clarification and explanation. The paper is not given to the student.


This study used a quasi-experimental design. There are 3 groups (one-on-one, written meta-linguistic and control group), 2 tests (pretest and posttest) and a treatment session. Firstly all of the groups perform the pretest (Appendix A) which assesses the participants' current knowledge on passives. 1 week after the pretest, one-one-one and written meta-linguistic groups are given treatment session. In this session both groups are given 12 pictures (Appendix B) that are related to each other and participants are asked to write a story paragraph individually according to pictures. The pictures are chosen in a way that they require students to use passive structures and the teachers demand students to use passive in their sentences. Students write their stories and deliver their papers to the teacher. Teachers give students feedback one week later. Two weeks following this session, three groups are given the posttest (Appendix C) which assesses the participants' performance on exercises with passive.

Feedback Treatment

For written meta-linguistic group, the teacher distributes students' stories on which there are explicit corrections and explanations of the mistakes. Each mistake is given a number and the explanation is given at the bottom of the page. There is no oral feedback for this group.

For one-on-one conference group, the teacher corrects the mistakes on the paper and takes notes explaining the mistake. The papers are not given to the students, but the teacher states the mistakes, gives the correct the version and explains why orally. The teacher wants students to ask any question about any part if they have any. Each participant in this group takes this treatment individually and each conference lasts for about 10 minutes. This treatment is interactive and in English.

Control group doesn't get any feedback for us to see the effect of feedback. The participants in the control group take the pretest and posttest with other two groups.

Testing Instruments

Both pretest and posttest are designed to assess the students' performance on passives. They are written and taken from Longman and Macmillan grammar books. They have two parts; rewrite sentences in passive and fill in the blanks with passive form. For the rewrite part, the students are asked to rewrite the active students in passive form using the same tense. Only the parts that require passive use are evaluated as correct or wrong in the scores. For the "fill in the blanks" part, the students are asked to fill in the blanks using passive form of the verb in the parenthesizes. The type of the questions is the same in both tests, but the questions are different.


Figure: Design of the study


In this paper, firstly one-on-one teacher-student conferences and its effectiveness were studied on the acquisition of passive usage in English. Then, one-on-one teacher-student conferences and written metalinguistic feedback were compared. The aim of the study is to find answers to our research questions and test whether one-on-one teacher-student is convenient in terms of giving and receiving corrective feedback.

One-on-One Teacher-Student Conferences vs. Oral Feedback

Oral corrective feedback which can be explicit or implicit is online and may or may not be noticed by the learners (Sheen, Y. 2010). When the learners are exposed to oral feedback, they can receive it directly or indirectly. However, the possibility of directly given oral corrective feedback is higher than the indirectly given oral corrective feedback (Sheen, Y. 2010).

One-on-one teacher-student conferences can also be called as peer offline metalinguistic feedback in short. In teacher-student conferences, teachers correct mistakes of written papers of the students by giving both oral and written corrective feedback. In addition, teachers make metalinguistic comments on student's written paper as well. This method of corrective feedback was found to be more effective (Bitchener, J., & Knoch, U. 2009).

In this study, one-on-one teacher-student conferencesare expected to be effective in correcting mistakes of passive voice sentences and it is verified during the pre-test, treatment and post-test period. These "five minute one-on-one conferences" (Bitchener, J., & Knoch, U. 2009) are not online feedback type. That is, teachers do not give feedback at the moment of mistake compared to oral corrective feedback.

One-on-One Teacher-Student Conferences vs. Written Metalinguistic Feedback

To start with, written metalinguistic feedback has been stated to be more effective than oral or direct written corrective feedback (Sheen 2010). While provision of written metalinguistic feedback, teachers correct the mistakes of learners and write some explanations of the rules of the mistakes on the paper. The student and the teacher do not discuss about the mistakes on the paper though.

On the other hand, one-on-one teacher-student conferences provide learners to feel more comfortable towards their mistakes and learners can discuss the reasons and results of them. Furthermore, learners make sure that they understand the reason behind their inaccurate linguistic feature(Ferris, 2002; Ferris & Hedgcock, 1998) and the teacher ensures of the fact that the students recognised and corrected their own mistakes.

In this study, one-on-one teacher-student conferences are expected to be more effective than written metalinguistic corrective feedback in correcting mistakes of passive voice sentences and it is verified during the pre-test, treatment and post-test period.

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