As well as on fostering student interest and motivation for language learning (Beauvois, 1998; Lee, 1997, 1999; Pelletieri, 2000). The research indicates three benefits of CMC: (1) it offers opportunities for more equal participation than face-to-face interaction, (2) it allows the learner sufficient time to process input and monitor and edit output through a self-paced process, and (3) it increases language production and complexity (Lee, 2002, p. 17).
There is also evidence to suggest that online chat leads students to scaffold each other’s performance collaboratively and to pool each other’s resources in the face of uncertainty concerning language choice (Shekary & Tahririan, 2006). Additionally, students who engage in online chat have been found to notice TL forms and subsequently make changes to their interlanguage (Shekary & Tahririan). Lee (2002) describes the use of an online chat room and task-based instruction to create a learning environment in which third-year college Spanish students used the TL to discuss, exchange, and debate issues related to real life.
Students accessed online communication tools through Blackboard (an e-learning environment) and then completed task-based online activities, wrote online essays, and participated in online discussions on real-world topics of interest. 8 Lee proposes that “the combined use of online interaction and task-based instruction empowers students’ communication skills by creating a lively environment in which they respond to real-time conversation about topics relevant to their interests” (2002, p. 21).
Lee (1999) also found that students who participate in online communication acknowledge the necessity of being prepared for the chats and the value of working collaboratively with their peers. In Chapter 12, you will explore further the use of technology such as this to promote language acquisition. In sum, strategies such as dialogue journals, pen pal/key pal letter exchanges, and synchronous electronic interaction are effective ways to engage students in written interpersonal communication while simultaneously addressing other goal areas. Providing Feedback in Oral Interpersonal Contexts9
Language teachers have traditionally given students feedback in response to the correctness of language use. A “very good” awarded by the teacher undoubtedly means that the student used accurate grammar, vocabulary, and/or pronunciation, or used the designated linguistic pattern being practiced. See discussions of IRE in Chapter 3 and earlier in this chapter. Oral feedback given by the teacher in the classroom can generally be of two types: (1) error correction, and (2) response to the content of the student’s message, much as in natural conversation.
In classrooms that focus on negotiation of meaning (as defined in Chapter 1), the teacher provides feedback that helps learners figure out meaning, make themselves understood, and develop strategies for interacting effectively in groups (Platt & Brooks, 1994). In Chapter 3, what did the discussion of IRE/IRF reveal about the nature of teacher feedback? ¦ Types of Teacher Feedback. In the earlier section of this chapter dealing with student discourse in pair/group activities, you learned about conversational repair in interactive activities.
As you learned, learners often experience trouble in an exchange, notice the problem, work to repair the problem, and have either a positive or negative outcome in terms of communicating the message. Another concept that is often a part of the discussion on repair is uptake, which refers to how the learner incorporates feedback (i. e. , from the teacher) into subsequent utterances (Lyster & Ranta, 1997). There are two types of student uptake: (1) uptake that results in repair of the error, and (2) uptake that results Conceptual Orientation 83 in an utterance that is still in need of repair (Lyster & Ranta). Students might demonstrate uptake by repeating the teacher’s feedback that includes the correct form (provided by the teacher), incorporating the correct form into a longer utterance, self-correcting, or using peer correction. In their hallmark (1997) study with French immersion students in grades four and five, Lyster and Ranta examined the effect of teacher correction strategies on student uptake. Their study identified six types of teacher feedback: 1.
Explicit correction: The teacher corrects the student, indicating clearly that what the student said was incorrect: “You should say . . . .” 2. Recast: The teacher reformulates all or part of a student’s utterance minus the error. Recasts are implicit and are not introduced by “You should say . . . .” They may focus on one word, grammatical modification, or translation of the student’s use of the native language: S: “I go not to the movies last night. ” T: “Oh, you didn’t go to the movies last night. ” 3.
Clarification request: The teacher identifies a problem in either comprehensibility or accuracy or both: “Pardon me” or “What do you mean by X? ” 4. Metalinguistic feedback: The teacher makes comments or asks questions about the form of the student’s utterance without providing the correct form. These comments indicate that there is an error somewhere: “Can you find your error? ” or “It isn’t said in that way. ” This feedback includes some grammatical metalanguage that refers to the nature of the error: “It’s masculine. ” 5.
Elicitation: The teacher repeats part of the student’s utterance and pauses to allow the student to complete the utterance at the place where the error occurred: S: “I had already went to the library. ” T: “I had already. . . .” The teacher can also use questions to elicit correct forms (e. g. , “How do we say ‘X’ in French? ”), or the teacher asks students to reformulate their utterance: “Try again, using the conditional. ” 6. Repetition: The teacher repeats the student’s erroneous utterance, usually changing the intonation to highlight the error: S: “. . . many money. T: “. . . many money? ” (1997, pp. 46–48). The teachers in Lyster and Ranta’s (1997) study used recasts more than any other strategy for correcting errors (55% of the time), with the other strategies occurring in the following order of decreasing frequency: elicitation (14%), clarification request (11%), metalinguistic feedback (8%), explicit correction (7%), and repetition (5%). Interestingly, recast was the strategy that proved least likely to lead to uptake: Recast strategies led students to make attempts at repairing their utterances only 31% of the time.
Explicit correction led to uptake only 50% of the time. Clarification requests, metalinguistic feedback, and repetition were effective strategies for eliciting uptake from students (88%, 86%, and 78%, respectively). The most effective strategy with respect to uptake was elicitation. In all cases, elicitation led to uptake. Lyster and Ranta’s study illustrated that elicitation may be a more effective strategy because it is a way for the teacher to signal to the student that there is a problem with form and consequently with meaning.
Recasts. The Lyster and Ranta (1997) study sparked a number of subsequent investigations into teacher feedback, particularly in the area of recasts, since this strategy appears to be favored by most language teachers, including those who teach content such as literature (Zyzik & Polio, 2008). In fact, according to Ellis and Sheen (2006), there have been more published articles in SLA journals on the topic of recasts than on any other single topic since 2001.
At the writing of this fourth edition of Teacher’s Handbook, there continues to be debate and lack of consensus in the field regarding the effectiveness of using recasts in order to lead to effective learner uptake. This is due in part to the fact 284 Chapter 8 Developing Oral and Written Interpersonal Communication that the studies up to this point have been conducted with different learner populations, in different settings (classrooms vs. one-on-one experimental settings), have been defined in a variety of ways, and have been implemented by teachers for various instructional purposes.
Since learners in these studies were of various ages and at various levels of L2 development, it is difficult to generalize the findings and what implications they have for foreign language classrooms. Additionally, some of the studies were not conducted in classrooms but rather were conducted in a tutorial setting. Since a comprehensive review of the research on recasts is beyond the scope of Teacher’s Handbook, the reader is encouraged to consult Ellis and Sheen for a detailed discussion of the studies on recasts completed in recent years. However, what should foreign language teachers know about the use of recasts in their classrooms?
The chart in Figure 8. 13 illustrates six key findings of current recast research together with the implications for using recasts in foreign language classrooms. Undoubtedly these findings and suggestions are subject to change as our understanding of recasts is refined through further research. Other Feedback for Focusing on Content of the Message. In addition to recasts, other feedback strategies have a role to play in the classroom. Some strategies, such as clarification requests, focus on the message while signaling to the student that there is a problem, most likely due to a grammatical or vocabulary error.
The following is an example of an exchange between a Spanish teacher and a student where a clarification request is made by the teacher: Estoy cansada hoy, clase. Trabaje hasta muy tarde anoche. ?Que hicieron Uds. anoche? Si, Susana, ? que hiciste tu? [I’m very tired today, class. I worked until very late last night. What did all of you do last night? Yes, Susana, what did you do? ] Pues, tu no hiciste nada. [Well, you didn’t do anything. ] ? Quien? ?Yo? Si, yo hice mucho anoche. [Who? Me? Yes, I did a lot last night. ] ? Oh! Yo no hice nada. [Oh! I didn’t do anything. In this exchange, the focus on form happened in a meaningful context, as it resulted from a misunderstanding. It was not arbitrary or dependent on the teacher’s hidden grammatical agenda. When errors are treated in this way, students must think about what went wrong in communication while they are developing strategies for negotiating meaning. Another type of teacher feedback strategy that has been found to be effective in student uptake is corrective confirmation checks, in which the teacher provides learners with an appropriate L2 alternative in the form of a question, such as “Did you mean, ‘he goes? ” (O’Relly, Flaitz, & Kromrey, 2001). These types of confirmation checks call attention to a linguistic problem in an unambiguous way. There are data to suggest that the use of feedback strategies such as clarification requests and corrective confirmation checks are most effective in reinforcing linguistic features that have already been introduced to and internalized by learners (O’Relly, Flaitz, & Kromrey), particularly since they have the knowledge necessary to make repairs.
Liebscher and Dailey-O’Cain (2003) compared conversational repair strategies in exchanges between teacher and advanced learners of German to repair strategies used in discourse outside the classroom. Their data revealed that repair initiation in classroom interaction differs from repair initiation in discourse outside the classroom. In the face of trouble in speaking, hearing, or understanding in a conversation, native speakers in naturally occurring discourse tend to use other-initiated strategies that are “less specific” at first (e. g. , Pardon? , Huh? , Hmm? (Schegloff, Jefferson, & Sacks, 1977). If these strategies are unsuccessful, they move on to “more specific” strategies as necessary, such as individual question words (e. g. , Who? , Where? , When? ), then to partial repeats of the trouble source, to partial repeats plus question words, to the most specific devices consisting of Conceptual Orientation 285 FIGURE 8. 13 Research on Recasts: Implications for FL Teaching FINDINGS OF STUDIES ON RECASTS Given the various functions that recasts can serve, learners are likely to have difficulty deciding how to respond to them Lyster, 1998). For example, since instructors often repeat even learners’ correct utterances, learners are not sure whether teachers are echoing what they have said in order to be supportive or whether they are providing them with correction (Han, 2002). IMPLICATIONS FOR USING RECASTS IN FL TEACHING Teachers can make recasts less ambiguous—i. e. , more salient or noticeable—by focusing them on a single linguistic feature and signaling correction by the use of emphatic stress on the targeted form (Ellis & Sheen, 2006).
Lightbown and Spada suggest a method of signaling to the student, through a tone of voice, gesture, or facial expression, which says to the student, “I think I understand what you are saying and I’m telling you how you can say it better” (2006, p. 193). Teachers in content-based classes should allow more time for learners to demonstrate uptake of recasts and should integrate focus on form into the curriculum or course. Learners in content-based classes (e. g. , immersion) are likely to perceive recasts as a focus on message content rather than a focus on language (Sheen, 2004).
In these settings, teachers often do not allow time for students to uptake their recasts but rather they continue with topic development. Teachers might reserve the use of recasts for older Learners with well-developed metalinguistic knowledge students who have more metalinguistic knowledge (such as adults who have had form-focused instruction) are more likely to perceive recasts as explicit correction than are and a higher proficiency level. learners with less-developed metalinguistic knowledge (such as elementary school immersion students) (Sheen, 2004).
Recasts may allow students with higher proficiency to notice the corrected linguistic forms better than students with lower proficiency, for whom recasts tend to go unnoticed (Lin & Hedgcock, 1996; Mackey & Philp, 1998). If the recasts target linguistic features that a learner is developmentally ready to acquire, those recasts may be effective in leading to uptake. If the recasts target features that are far beyond the learners’ current stage of development, they are likely to be unsuccessful (Mackey & Philp, 1998). In addition, the timing of the recast may contribute to its salience—i. . , ability to be noticed; if recasts occur at teachable moments, when the learner is temporarily switching to a hypothesistesting mode when speaking, they will have the best chance of being noticed and processed (Han & Kim, 2008). Recasts have been found to lead to uptake with repair if they are short (requiring one or two changes), declarative (as opposed to interrogative with rising intonation), focused on pronunciation and vocabulary rather than on grammar, and involve substitution of an item in the learner utterance (Philp, 2003; Sheen, 2006).
Recasts do not work as well as feedback that elicits output from learners or that offers metalinguistic information (Lyster, 2004; Lyster & Ranta, 1997). Teachers should take care to provide recasts for linguistic forms that learners have the ability to notice and correct. They should also time the use of recasts so that they occur at teachable moments when the learner is entering a hypothesis-testing mode. When using recasts, teachers should remember to keep them short, declarative, focused primarily on pronunciation or vocabulary, and involving substitution of an item in the learner utterance.
Elicitation and clarification requests may be more effective overall because they elicit pushed output from learners, which provides evidence of uptake. Another option is to provide recasts along with negotiation of meaning (Han & Kim, 2008). Source: Shrum & Glisan, 2010, original material. 286 Chapter 8 Developing Oral and Written Interpersonal Communication “you mean” plus a possible understanding of the prior turn (Liebscher & Dailey-O’Cain, pp. 376–377). The most specific devices to which they refer are the corrective confirmation checks described in the previous paragraph.
In the Liebscher and Dailey-O’Cain (2003) study, the teacher often used “less specific” repair initiations with students (i. e. , those found in naturally occurring discourse). These repair initiations enabled students to effectively modify their output and thus make successful conversational repairs. This finding corroborates that of the Lyster and Ranta (1997) study that identified clarification requests to be an effective strategy for eliciting uptake from students. On the other hand, students in this study showed a marked preference for using more specific repair initiation techniques, i. . , those not found as prevalent in natural discourse, when they didn’t understand what the teacher was saying, in an effort to avoid behaving in what might seem to be a confrontational manner, outside of the norms for student-to-teacher interaction. In initiating repairs themselves, students usually asked for specific vocabulary items, showing the teacher that they were trying to understand the vocabulary used and that they were following classroom discourse—thus enacting their designated roles as typical learners.
Liebscher and Dailey-O’Cain (2003) interpret the findings of their study to mean that (1) what keeps students from using certain types of repairs is an understanding of their roles in the classroom rather than an insufficient knowledge of L2; (2) the teaching of naturally occurring repair strategies must occur in classroom environments in which students are free to use such strategies and thus step out of their traditional learner roles; (3) students should be encouraged to use less-specific repair initiations, especially in interactions with the teacher, because these are most effective in leading to modified output by the teacher and modified input for students; and (4) teachers should use repair strategies such as less-specific repairs in order to facilitate modified output by students. In highly communicative or group activities, the teacher might do best to make mental notes of patterns of errors and use them as the focus for subsequent language activities. Kramsch (1987) suggests extensive use of natural feedback (i. e. , IRF) rather than overpraising everything students say. Statements such as “Yes, that’s interesting,” “I can certainly understand that! ” “That’s incredible! ” and “Hmm, that’s right” show students that teachers are listening to what they’re saying, and this strategy encourages students to focus more on meaning.
When conversing with the class as a follow-up to group interaction, Kramsch also proposes that teachers give students explicit credit for their contributions by quoting them (“As X just said, . . . ”). In this way, teachers are not taking credit for what students have said by using it to suggest their own ideas. At more advanced levels of study, where one of the goals is to refine language use, students can be given increasingly greater responsibility for their accuracy. The following are a few ideas that merit further research: ? ? ? Peer editing of oral language samples: The teacher records role-plays or situations that students enact in the classroom, after which pairs of students listen to the tapes in order to correct linguistic errors and identify ways to improve the content.
Teacher feedback: At certain designated times throughout the year or semester, perhaps following speaking exams, the teacher gives helpful feedback to each student concerning progress made in speaking. This feedback can include patterns of errors that merit attention, with specific suggestions on how to improve accuracy. Error tracking system: As a class, students listen to tapes of themselves and, with the teacher’s help, compile a listing of the kinds of errors they hear. They focus on eliminating certain errors over a specified period of time and agree on a system to check and reward their efforts. Conceptual Orientation 287 Clearly, a great deal of research is still needed in order to understand more fully the role of feedback in interpersonal communication contexts.
The research presented here points to the following implications regarding error correction and feedback in the classroom: 1. Students benefit most when the feedback they receive focuses on comprehensibility of the message itself, not just on accuracy of form. 2. The feedback strategies that lead to negotiation of form most effectively appear to be elicitation, clarification requests, metalinguistic feedback, and repetition. 3. Learners may not recognize teacher response as corrective in nature unless the teacher has a strategy for signaling this to the learner. 4. Recasts may have a place in the classroom but only if the teacher uses them in a salient manner and if learners are cognitively and linguistically ready to notice their corrective value. 5.
Student-generated repairs may help learners to access TL forms and revise hypotheses about the TL. 6. The classroom environment should be one in which learners are encouraged to step out of their traditional learner roles when engaging in conversational repair. 7. Teachers should use less-specific repair initiations with students and provide opportunities for students to use them as a strategy for facilitating uptake or modified input. 8. In order to focus on fluency and comprehensibility of speech, it is best to avoid trying to coerce correction of errors in speaking and to allow the interaction to develop as it would in natural discourse. 9.
Teacher feedback should include comments that help the student to focus on negotiation of meaning. 10. Students should be made increasingly more responsible for their language accuracy so that their oral proficiency can improve. This chapter presented many ideas for developing oral and written interpersonal communication. Continue to keep in mind that the approach of Teacher’s Handbook is that all three modes of communication should be integrated closely, as described in the Model presented in Chapter 6. TEACH AND REFLECT EPISODE ONE Creating Information-Gap Activities for Various Levels of Instruction ACTFL/NCATE 3. a. Understanding Language Acquisition and Creating a Supportive Classroom; 3. b.
Developing Instructional Practices That Reflect Language Outcomes and Learner Diversity; 4. b. Integrating Standards in Instruction; 4. c. Selecting and Designing Instructional Materials TESOL/NCATE 3. a. Planning for Standards-Based ESL and Content Instruction; and 3. b. Managing and Implementing Standards-Based ESL and Content Instruction Create the following information-gap activities in the language you teach, according to the following instructions: 1. Elementary-school level: Design an information-gap activity that would be appropriate for elementary school children. You might create this for the content-based lesson you 288 Chapter 8 Developing Oral and Written Interpersonal Communication