Using Peer Assisted Writing To Promote Esl English Language Essay

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Collaborative writing has been used in composition research and pedagogy in U.S. educational institutes since the 1970s. Collaborative writing encourages social interaction among writers and their peers through activities such as peer response (Ferris and Hedgcock, 1998). This social interaction and dialogue with others are considered crucial for learning by social interactionist theorists, such as Vygotsky (2000), who stated that learning involves the internalization of social interaction processes, which helps the learner progress from complex to conceptual thinking.

In peer response, students are given plenty of opportunities to brainstorm ideas in pairs or groups, to give feedback on each other's writing and to proofread and edit for each other. While increasingly more mainstream classroom teachers are encouraging students to write in collaboration, ESL/EFL writing instructors sometimes have reservations about its effectiveness due mainly to the concern that students lack cognitive sophistication and linguistic skills in judging writing and in revising and editing a piece of work (Jacobs, 1989).

Researchers in the field of second language (L2) writing such as Peregoy and Boyle (2001) pointed out that pairing students up in writing is an ideal way to promote learning effectiveness. It not only gives teachers more quality time to work with students but also provides students with plenty of opportunities to brainstorm ideas and to learn from each other. However, Peregoy and Boyle also emphasized that students in the peer response groups need explicit guidelines in giving their partners constructive feedback so as to benefit their partners' writing. Adopting Peregoy and Bolye's suggestion and Vygotsky's (2000) concept in which an individual learns to extend his/her current competence through the guidance of a more experienced individual, I developed a structured and easy-to-implement peer assisted writing activity to compensate for the lack of structures in many existing paired writing methods. 

The Peer Assisted Writing Activity

In this activity, a more proficient student is paired up with a less proficient one with the intention of utilizing the knowledge and experience of the former to assist the latter in writing. In addition, this activity was based on a balanced approach (Scarcella, 2003), which emphasizes teachers' explicit instruction on both meaningful communication (such as content and organization) and specific features of the English language (such as grammar and mechanics). In many existing peer response writing activities, students are expected to proofread and edit each other's writing on their own without the teachers' intervention. However, I strongly believe that when a peer-assisted writing activity is implemented in an ESL/EFL setting, the teachers' intervention and direct feedback will help writers to overcome problems, such as grammatical errors in their writing, as well as to learn how to generate ideas for better content. Since writing is a complex problem-solving process, teachers are recommended to intervene at points in the writing process that can most benefit the writers. Thus, in the final step, The Teacher Evaluates, of this activity, the teacher meets with each pair and comments on the meaning, order, style, spelling, and punctuation of the writing. This is unlike many peer response activities, which do not require teachers to edit students' writing.

The structured guidelines listed in the activity are designed to help promote ESL/EFL students' narrative writing skills. This activity is appropriate for all grade levels. The following is a detailed description of how to implement this peer assisted writing activity in an ESL/EFL classroom to achieve its optimal effectiveness.

Pair Up Students

Before doing the activity, teachers pair up students based on their writing level. The one who is at a higher writing level plays the role of a Helper, and the one who is at a lower writing level a Writer.

Warm Up Activities

After pairing up students, the teacher has each pair perform warm-up activities to create a comfortable atmosphere that helps the pair establish mutual trust. The activities should focus on promoting students' friendship and helping them get to know each other.

Steps in the Activity

After the students get to know each other better and feel comfortable working together, teachers may begin to train them to follow the six steps.  Teachers are encouraged to print out the guidelines (see Appendix) and pass it out to each student. Teachers should go over the handout with students and model each step for them before they practice the activity in pairs. The description below shows the tasks that need to be done in each step by the Helper and the Writer. 

Step 1: Ideas

In order to help ESL/EFL writers understand the important components in narrative writing such as character, setting, problem, and solution, students are provided with complete questions that mostly begin with "wh" words to generate ideas. The questions are as follows:

Who did what?

What happened?

Where did it happen?

When did it happen?

Who are the main characters in the story?

Why did he/she/they do that?

What was the problem?

How did he/she/they solve the problem?

What happened next?

Then what?

Did anyone learn anything at the end?

What was the lesson the characters learned?

(Ask any questions you can think of.)

To help the Writer stimulate ideas, the Helper begins by asking the Writer the list of questions stated above. The Helper could raise the questions with the Writer in any relevant order. The "ask any question" option on the list above is provided to indicate that the Helper can think up his/her own questions. As the Writer responds verbally to the questions asked by the Helper, the Writer also makes a note of key words. The Writer might also add to the notes any relevant information he/she wants to write about.

The pair then reviews the keywords in the notes and determines if the order or organization should be changed. This could be indicated by numbering the ideas. Alternatively, the ideas may seem to fall into obvious sections, which can be dealt with in turn. Such sections can be color-coded and the ideas belonging to them underlined or highlighted with a marker. Pairs may also choose to draw lines linking or around related ideas, so that a "semantic map" is constructed.

Step 2: Draft

The key words in the notes created in Step 1 should be placed where both members of the pair can easily see them. In this step, there are five different stages as shown below, varying from the simplest to the most challenging degrees of task difficulty:

Stage 1: Helper writes it all, Writer copies it all

Stage 2: Helper writes hard words for Writer

Stage 3: Helper writes hard words in rough, Writer copies in

Stage 4: Helper says how to spell hard words

Stage 5: Writer writers it all

The teacher chooses one specific stage from the five stages given to the students before they move on to writing. However, one should keep in mind that the stages chosen should not be stagnant. They should rely on the students' writing development. In other words, teachers may choose a higher stage for the pair to work on when the students progress in their writing. They may also go back one stage (or more) when they find that their students encounter a particularly difficult stage.

After the teacher chooses a stage, the paired writers will receive instruction from the teacher regarding what they are expected to do in that particular stage. The pair then proceeds to write. The teacher should emphasize that the Writer does not have to worry too much about spelling when he/she is writing a draft. Emphasis at this point should be on having the students continue writing and allowing the ideas to flow.

Step 3: Read

The Writer reads the writing aloud. If he/she reads a word incorrectly, the Helper may provide support if he/she is capable of doing so.

Step 4: Edit

In this step, the Helper and Writer look at the draft together, and the Writer considers whether improvements are necessary. At the same time, the Helper also considers if there are any improvements the Writer might want to make. The problem words, phrases or sentences could be marked with a colored pen, pencil or highlighter. There are five edit levels in this step. They are meaning, order, style, spelling, and punctuation. The Writer and Helper should inspect the draft more than once, checking on different criteria on each occasion. To provide scaffolding to the students, teachers should encourage the Writer to ask himself/herself the following questions:

Does the Helper (H) understand what I want to say in my writing? (idea and meaning)

Did my writing have a clear beginning, middle, and ending? (order)

Did I use all the words and write all the sentences correctly? (style)

Did I spell all the words correctly? (spelling)

Did I put all the punctuation (, . ? ! "…") in the right places? (punctuation)

The questions for the Helper are:

Do I understand what the Writer (W) wants to say in his/her writing? (idea and meaning)

Did the writing have a clear beginning, middle, and ending? (order)

Did W use all the words and write all the sentences correctly? (style)

Did W spell all the words correctly? (spelling)

Did W put all the punctuation (, . ? ! "...") in the right places? (punctuation)

The order of each question shows the ranking of the importance of each criterion, the first question being the most important, and the last being the least. Questions 1 and 2 (which are bolded) are the two most important questions the pair should pay attention to while editing the written products. With the questions in mind, the Helper marks any areas the Writer has missed, and the Writer can make any additional suggestions about changes based on his/her own reflection of their writing. The pair discusses the best correction to make, and when agreement is reached, the new version is inserted in the text (preferably by the Writer). If the pair has doubt about spelling, they may refer to the dictionary.

Step 5: The Final Copy

The Writer then copies out a neat or best version of the corrected draft. The Helper provides help when necessary, depending on the skill of the Writer. The best copy is a joint product of the pair and is then turned in to the teacher.

Step 6: The Teacher Evaluates

Teacher Evaluates is the final step. In this step, students will have an opportunity to receive comments and instructive feedback directly from the teacher. When the Writer and the Helper turn in their best copy, the teacher will meet with them and provide them with explicit writing and grammatical instruction as well as corrective feedback. The teacher's comments focus on meaning/idea, order, style, spelling, and punctuation, which are the five editing criteria stated in Step 4. The writers are then expected to review the correction and feedback together as a pair.


This peer assisted writing activity can help promote ESL/EFL student' narrative writing skills at all grade levels. To achieve its optimal effectiveness, teachers should provide students with constant modeling of the strategies in each step of the activity. Furthermore, teachers should ensure that they constantly promote a trusting relationship between the writing partners throughout the writing process.


Ferris, D & Hedgcock, J. S. (1998). Teaching ESL Composition: Purpose, process, and practice. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers.

Jacobs, G. (1989). Miscorrection in peer feedback in writing class. RELC Journal, 20 (4), 68-76.

Peregoy, S. F., & Boyle, O. F. (2001). Reading, writing, and learning in ESL: A resource book for K-12 teachers. New York: Longman.

Scarcella, R. (2003). Balancing approaches to English language instruction. In Accelerating academic English: A focus on the English learner (pp. 159-173). Oakland: University of California.

Vygotsky, L. S. (2000). Thought and language. (A. Kozulin, Rev. Trans., Ed.) Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.


Guidelines for the Peer Assisted Writing Activity

H = Helper,   W = Writer








Step 1: IDEAS





H asks W Questions:

Who did what?

What happened?

Where did it happen?

When did it happen?

Who are the main characters in the story?

Why did he/she/they do that?

What was the problem?

How did he/she/they solve the problem?

What happened next?

Then what?

Did anyone learn anything at the end?

What was the lesson the characters learned?

(Ask any questions you can think of.)…………?









W answers and takes notes.

W can add things that are not in H's questions.









Step 2: DRAFT




Teacher will give and explain to you ONE of the following jobs.









H writes it all

W copies it all



H writes hard words for W



H writes hard words in rough, W copies in



H tells how to spell hard words



W writes it all








Use the notes, begin writing. DON'T WORRY about spelling.









Step 3: READ




W reads drafts out loud and makes it sound good!

H corrects words read wrong if he/she can.









Step 4: EDIT




H and W both look at the draft.

W asks himself/herself:

1. Does H understand what I want to say in my writing? (meaning)

2. Did my writing have a clear beginning, middle, and ending? (order)

3. Did I use all the words and write all the sentences correctly? (style)

4. Did I spell all the words correctly? (spelling)

5. Did I put all the punctuation (, . ? ! "....") in the right places? (punctuation)

H asks himself/herself:

1. Do I understand what W wants to say in his/her writing? (meaning)

2. Did the writing have a clear beginning, middle, and ending? (order)

3. Did W use all the words and write all the sentences correctly? (style)

4. Did W spell all the words correctly? (spelling)

5. Did W put all the punctuation (, . ? ! "...") in the right places? (punctuation)








W makes changes. ← → H suggests changes.

Use a dictionary when necessary.













W copies the 'best' writing from Step 4. H may help if necessary.

Turn in the completed copy to teacher.













Teacher comments on meaning, order, style, spelling, and punctuation.

H and W read the teacher's comments together, then discuss and make corrections.







The Internet TESL Journal, Vol. XII, No. 8, August 2006

On Teaching Writing: Types and Forms of Feedback

Submitted by nataneva on 22 November, 2009 - 23:57

Hello-active, bookworm, read, act




I am now in the middle of writing my paper on different types and forms of teacher and peer feedback in L2 writing instruction for the purposes of understanding their advantages and disadvantages to improve the process of learning. I'm writing this entry in the hope of both sharing the ways it is done in my classroom and having some discussion about your approaches to giving feedback on your students writing.

The course of Academic Writing designed for the 2-year English majors at the Department of Foreign Languages at Novosibirsk State University is aimed at developing the students' writing skills with a particular focus on mastering writing 5-paragraph essays meeting such requirements as developing a convincing and well-supported argument while also following some clear organizational pattern and the accepted referencing standards.

The teaching approach that is used presents a combination of product and process approaches to writing with some elements of genre approach. The course is taught over a period of two semesters with weekly 90-minute sessions of classroom instruction supported by email correspondence between the teacher and the students. The latter is aimed at giving both sides more channels for communication and making the instruction more effective.

The reasons why the instruction is delivered this way is that it gives students more opportunities to practise their writing skills and helps to address the issue of insufficient amount of time for instruction as well as develop learner autonomy. In addition, using web-based tools to enhance writing instruction  is viewed as an opportunity to broaden the students' general level of knowledge, improve their critical thinking skills and a path to improve their electronic literacy considered as being "critical to success" in modern society (Shetser and Warschauer, 2000, p. 171).

Students receive different types of feedback on their writing, such as peer feedback on their first draft and teacher commentary on the second one. Peer feedback is given to students in class and has to address the questions about the content, organization and the mechanics of their peers' essays at a basic level. The teacher's feedback addresses the same questions but at a more complex and more detailed way. It is provided electronically in the form of coded in-text notes and end of the document  commentary. It is followed by the whole group in-class feedback session to address common problems in the completed assignment. Students can further revise their works for the writing portfolio submitted at the end of each semester if they want to. Choosing in favour of such a combination of feedback forms is governed by the fact that giving students 'a range of feedback types ... [which] may stand a greater chance' of success than reliance on a single technique' (Lynch, 1996).

What I have read so far shows a number of directions in which the system of feedback I've described can be improved. First, the teacher feedback should be made more specific and focused. Being selective is very important not to overwhelm the students with the amount of correction made in their drafts and to let the teacher save some time on commenting on the students' papers, which is one of the most time-consuming activities anyway. Second, to make good use of peer feedback they should be systematically trained how to do it, with one of the suggestions being the teacher using one of the student's papers (with his/her permission, of course, but preferably anonymously still) to model good examples of giving feedback. Third, feedback can be delivered in the form of a recorded commentary the advantage of which is that the paper is not crowded with the T's notes on the margins and that additional motivation for students to go and revise their writing is created because the students now see the effort the teacher is making of understanding them better (Hyland, 1990). These are just a few suggestions I've come across in literature, which seem to me to be worth trying.

Have you been using any of these techniques and tools? If yes, are you satisfied with how they work in your classrom? If no, would you consider using them? Why or why not?

Looking forward to getting some feedback on feedback!


Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4

HYLAND, K. (1990) Providing productive feedback. ELT Journal, 44 (4), 279-285.

Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4

LYNCH, T. (1996) Communication in the Language Classroom, p. 155. Oxford: OUP.

SHETZER, H. and M. WARSCHAUER. (2000) An electronic literacy approach to network-based language teaching. In: WARSCHAUER, M. and KERN, R., eds. Network-based language teaching: Concepts and practice. New York: Cambridge University Press.

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Feedback plays a central role in writing development. This is particularly so in tertiary education in China because of both the attitudes of tutors and staff and also the move towards a more process orientation to teaching writing. However, constraints resulting from examination-focused programmes and the number of students in each class mean that the provision of feedback is limited. This study examines whether peer feedback may provide a resource for addressing this issue by examining two groups of students at a Chinese University writing essays on the same topic, one receiving feedback from the teacher and one from their peers. Textual and questionnaire data from both groups and video recordings and interviews from 12 individual students revealed that students used teacher and peer feedback to improve their writing but that teacher feedback was more likely to be adopted and led to greater improvements in the writing. However, peer feedback was associated with a greater degree of student autonomy, and so even in cultures that are said to give great authority to the teacher, there is a role for peer feedback.

Peer Feedback on Written Work

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Submitted by Sean Lennox on Mon, 2007-07-30 10:02.

Writing Skills

Best Practices

Inside The Classroom

This article was written by Library Services at the University of Calgary. See more of the U of Calgary article by downloading the attachment, improving-writing-through-peer-review.pdf

What is Peer Review?

Peer review is a learning strategy in which a student reviews another student's written work and provides feedback. Since students are asked to revise their work based on the feedback they receive, peer review puts the focus on the process of writing. Peer editing generally refers to commenting on a paper's organization, tone, format, flow, grammar, punctuation, and so on. Peer review usually includes an examination of the content as well. When reviewing a paper for content, students assess factors such as a well-defined thesis statement, the depth to which the topic was adequately covered, assumptions and biases, and the strength of the paper's argument.

Peer review is an active learning strategy with a number of benefits for learners. It focuses on the writing process, improves students' critical analysis skills, and allows them to improve their work before it is graded. Facilitate the peer review process online by using tools such as Blackboard, email, or the Peer Review Tool.


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The Internet TESL Journal

Conquering Chinese English in the ESL Classroom

Helena Prins

helenaprins [[at]]

(Tainan, Taiwan)

Defining the Problem

Teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) in Taiwan is for the most part pleasant and exciting. Students are eager to learn. However, one of the frustrations ESL teachers often complain about is that students seem to make the same mistakes repetitively. Learners will often transfer the rules of their first language to express something in their second language.  This transference happens when they have insufficient knowledge of the rules of the second language (Cook, 2001). In Taiwan, students fall back on the rules of their first language (Mandarin) when they do not know the rules of the second language (English). The result is a poor form of English, informally referred to as "Chinglish". The errors that occur are also called language interference errors. These errors affect students' academic performance in English.  Foreign teachers with limited knowledge of Mandarin may not even know why the same kinds of errors are being made repeatedly. Teachers feel frustrated and discouraged. To find textbooks that provide information on common interference errors and ways to "teach" them, is hard. Knowing where these errors come from may guide teachers to deal with these interference errors effectively. This article will identify some of the most common errors made by Taiwanese students in writing, as well as offer some strategies for teachers to use in the ESL classroom.

Where Does Chinglish Come From?

There are a number of causes leading to language interference errors. Errors are chiefly due to differences between the two languages, structurally and phonologically. The greater the difference, the more acute the learning difficulties are. The differences between English and Mandarin are many. These differences lead to confusion of the appropriate gender and number inflection for subject and object pronouns. For example, students confuse "he with she" and "him with her" and vice versa. In spoken Mandarin they do not have pronouns indicating the gender of the object or subject! Even an intermediate student can be heard saying, "I love my husband. She is so handsome." When one looks at sentences in Mandarin, verbs frequently appear in the final position as opposed to English verbs that appear in the middle of sentences.


Another example of a big difference between the languages is that in Mandarin, nouns stay the same, but "counting words" are used to indicate plural. Students do not add the -s to plurals. It is common to hear sentences like "Monkeys like to eat banana." The first noun was pluralized, but not the second noun. This is not only a grammatical error in writing, but happens frequently in speaking too. Mandarin speakers use a specific time phrase to mark the time. Typical sentences that can be found in the writing and speaking of ESL learners are "I yesterday eat cake" and "She eat rice".  The correct form, "I  ate cake yesterday" and "She eats rice" would be considered redundant in a Mandarin way of thinking!


There is no lexical equivalent for the definite article "the". Students are confused about when to use it and when to omit it. They often place the definite article in front of a proper name. For example, they often produce, "I want to go to the Taipei for the weekend." Mandarin uses double transitions which English speakers consider redundant.  To Mandarin speakers it is logical to say, "Because Kate is English, therefore Kate can speak English." Multi-syllabic words cause confusion for since ESL learners since most words in Mandarin tend to have one morpheme and Mandarin sentences are shorter. Mandarin nouns, adjectives and adverbs do not show suffixes as they do in English. The word "happy" can be a noun, adverb and adjective in Mandarin. Many ESL teachers in Taiwan consider the incorrect use of adverbs and adjectives the most common interference errors. Students produce English such as "You can sing beautiful" instead of "You can sing beautifully". These reoccurring errors hinder students' English performance in tests and English assignments and may also be detrimental to their confidence in using their second language.


As stated earlier, an insufficient knowledge of the second language's grammar rules, forces students to fall back on the rules of their first language. Language interference errors occur. For example, students repeatedly ignore the agreement between the verb and subject. Another common mistake students make is the use of a comma instead of a period at the end of a sentence. In Mandarin sentences are separated with the use of a comma. Since many ESL schools put the main focus on teaching communication skills, grammar is often neglected. This poses a big problem for elementary school students. They enter elementary school with acceptable speaking skills but they have tremendous difficulty in writing English sentences and paragraphs. Many schools underestimate the value of teaching grammar at an earlier age. They think grammar is too abstract. Lack of age and developmentally appropriate English grammar resources specifically designed for Taiwanese children, add to the problem.


It is hard to address language interference errors in schools with a No-Mandarin-During- English- Time-policy. Children do not get the opportunity to make the necessary links and comparisons between English and Mandarin. Again, though knowledge of the students' first language is not compulsory, it may help teachers in understanding the interference errors made by students.

How to Limit Language Interference Errors

1.    Error Analysis provides insight into the process of language acquisition. Determining the source of an error constitutes a major portion of the teacher's time prior to actual teaching but it is not the only task to be considered. Once the teacher has identified the errors, he or she must prioritize the mistakes and determine which ones to teach immediately and which ones "to put on a back burner." This task cannot be stressed enough because the sequencing of errors can radically affect the way in which a student responds to language teaching. It is not unusual, for instance, for a student to be devastated when confronted with 20 to 30 different problems to solve in one essay. It is the teacher's responsibility to provide a positive learning experience for the student by first determining the student's level of proficiency and selecting accordingly specific errors to be discussed in a specific sequence. Beginning students should concentrate on global errors, those which inhibit their communication. The more advanced student ought not to exhibit so many global errors and may need and want to have all the errors identified and explained if necessary. Teachers can use a simple frequency table to list and count the errors made by each student. Give students a 50-word assignment and document the errors. Teachers can then discuss the errors with the class or individually.

2.    The effective use of various auditory and visual mode instructions can reduce interference during encoding processes. According to Chung (2003) second language words were better remembered when first language words were presented auditory with the visually presented second language word. An example of a visual reminder may be for teachers to write the phonetic "in" versus "en" on the board, highlighting to students what they've said. Teachers should follow that up by writing the phonetic "en" on the board to be a visual reminder of what has been said as a pronunciation interference error.

3.    How teachers provide feedback on language interference errors can be detrimental or conducive in the acquisition of a second language. It can be quite harmful to treat errors as "diseases" or "pathological situations". The correction of every error as soon as it occurs can be discouraging. Some of the negative consequences can include anxiety, fear of making an error, the development of avoidance strategies, reduced motivation for participation and lack of trust towards the teacher. Karra (2006) promotes self-correction as an efficient way to identify errors. Self-correction can be very effective when it is done with the help of children's classmates. The younger the children are, the more they like to cooperate and the self-correction process seems less intimidating. Self-correction is a very effective way of limiting interference errors in students' writing tasks.  The following is a suggested four-step-approach for self-correction. This process is practical and can be used for any ESL class, not only in the Taiwanese ESL classroom. The process is based on four questions the teacher provides to the students. Students will read their own work four times while answering all four questions one at a time. For each step students have to focus on only one aspect of their piece of writing.

Highlight the verbs and check the tenses.

Double check prepositions.

Concentrate on nouns - spelling and the agreement between the subject and the verb.

Correct potential personal mistakes.

4.    Peer-correction may benefit not only the student correcting the errors, but it promotes social interaction in the students' second language. Students may feel more comfortable discussing their work with a peer, than with the foreign teacher in front of the class.

5.    Teachers should revise the way in which new vocabulary are presented and selected.  A different manner may make learning easier. For example, Tinkham (1997) illustrates how semantic clustering of new second language vocabulary serves as a detriment to the learning process.  An example of a semantic cluster is peach, apple, pear, watermelon, etc.  These are the names of fruit. On the other hand, thematic clustering serves as a facilitator of learning. Thematic clusters are cognitively based as well as based upon psychological associations between clustered words. An example of such a cluster is frog, pond, hop, slippery, green, swim. Here the common thematic concept is frog.  

6.    Repetition plays a very important role in the ESL classroom. Recent research has stated the importance of second language learner's use of repetition for conversational participation and language learning (Veslemoy, 2005). Veslemoy stated that repetition helps students to produce more language, while also formulating what to say next. Repetition is a strategy that may scaffold participation when young children are exposed to a second language for the first time. Repetition enhances comprehension, because it provides learners with opportunities to process input. Teachers can use repetition as a feedback technique. Teachers should repeat the incorrect sentence a student makes with the corrected grammar and sentence structure. In this way the teacher does not hinder the flow of the conversation to point out the grammar mistake. The teacher can keep the conversation flowing by only repeating the student's incorrect language with the correct form of English. The benefit of this technique lies in the fact that students will not get discouraged by a continual interruption when they make a mistake. By hearing pure and correct language, learning can still take place. Recent research (Rydland & Aukrust, 2005) has stated the importance of second language learner's use of repetition for conversational participation and language learning. When a student says "I better now", teachers can echo this by repeating the correct English, "Í am better now".

7.    Since students fall back on the rules of the first language when they do not know the rules of the second language, teachers will have to find ways of introducing grammar rules in a "child-friendly" way in kindergarten classes already. One practical and fun idea for young learners would be to have a "Chinglish" board where the correct and incorrect grammar are displayed and the children can police themselves and earn reward points for correcting other children's "Chinglish".

8.    A solution that may not be popular is the suggestion that schools should revise their NO CHINESE DURING ENGLISH TIME-policy. Instead of seeing students' minds as a tabula rasa, a clean slate, English teachers can recognize students' previous experiences with language and learning and can build on them, and they can expand on learners' linguistic knowledge by employing their first language intelligently. There is no evidence that the use of the first language in the classroom, constrains the learning of the second language.  To prevent the over-use of Mandarin in the classroom, Ku (2004) made the following suggestions:

Use the students' first language for class management such as disciplining students, organizing activities or giving activity instructions.

Use the students' first language to link the thoughts of first and second language, such as for explaining grammar and conveying the meaning of the second language.

Use the first language to maintain students' collaborative dialogue in their second language by switching unfamiliar words of the second language to the first language.

It is hard to address these errors in schools with a No-Mandarin-During-English-Time-policy. Children do not get the opportunity to make the necessary links and comparisons between English and Mandarin. Again, though knowledge of the students' first language is not compulsory, it may help teachers in understanding the interference errors made by students. By relaxing the No-Mandarin-policy, students may experience a sense of mutual appreciation of each other's language.


In general, it is important to reform the way English is taught in Taiwanese schools. The most crucial improvement needed lies in the adoption of methods aimed at enhancing students communicative abilities. Instead of making students spend all or most of their time memorizing grammatical rules, English classes should focus on developing the abilities to speak and write the language. Toward this goal, the textbooks that are used in schools for teaching English should be drastically revised or rewritten. Staff recruitment as well as parental and auxiliary staff instruction may be needed if teachers want to make an impact on more than just their classroom.