Teach English in Gucheng Zhen - Datong Shi

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Some people believe that students simply have to listen to or perhaps produce language in order to learn it. Krashen (1982), cited in Rahimi and Zhang (2016) claims that exposure is the most important aspect of second language acquisition; however, much research has shown that students' L2 improves when they pay attention to linguistic features. To that end, the teacher has a duty to give the most effective type of feedback to ensure that students engage with language sufficiently to be able to improve. This short essay will first consider the context of when to give feedback and then give an overview of recent literature interrogating the most effective particular strategies. Firstly, a teacher should consider the time and setting of where the language has been produced by the learner to ensure the learner is in the best position to receive the guidance. In their consideration of how to create a motivating classroom, Dornyei and Muir (2019) establish that group cohesion is of central importance to students’ affective and social engagement, which then influences students’ receptivity to correction. Put simply, in order for students to have the attentional resources to respond to teacher correction, they must feel safe and comfortable in the environment, with their peers and with the teacher. The teacher can develop this by modeling willingness to learn and take risks. Furthermore, by having learners frequently engage in peer reviews, goal setting and reflection tasks, a community of inquiry can be established where mistakes are seen as the key to progress. Focusing on correction techniques in oral performance, we can also consider how different techniques can be used depending on the context. If a learner is performing a language, such as in a class debate, it may be better to withhold feedback until after the performance has finished, for example. Furthermore, excessive attention to form at the expense of meaning can also de-motivate students, since it is generally found that students are more engaged in their learning when conversations seem genuine (Lambert, Philp and Nakamura, 2017). In an analysis of a teacher’s mediating moves in a lesson, Hirazo Rivera and Sagre Barboza (2016) found that the focus of mediation was on meaning (57%), with language making up 29% of her comments and affect 14%. Nevertheless, the focus on language is essential to making progress with second language acquisition. As a subset of focus on language, corrective feedback is usually characterized as either a prompt or a recast, with some research showing that prompts can be more effective. This is typically considered to be because the prompt encourages the learner to pay attention to the utterance and fix their own mistake where possible, while recasts do not have the same cognitive demands. For example, Ellis, Loewen and Erlam (2006) found that prompts with explicit metalinguistic feedback led to higher scores, while Ammar and Spada (2006) found that although both prompts and recasts were useful, prompts led to better results and Rahimi and Zhang (2016) likewise found that prompting learners to notice their errors helped them to better avoid them. Of course, students may still notice the correction and the metalinguistic reason behind it then apply it to their language knowledge and usage, it is just more difficult to assess this. Yet for these reasons, it is fair to summarise that some but not excessive corrective feedback on relevant linguistic features (such as those being studied at the time or errors identified by the learner as in need of attention) are useful for helping students to focus on their language use. Prompts may be more effective than recasts, but both are better than no feedback at all. Effective corrective techniques, then, are used within a supportive and engaging environment in which learners feel comfortable making mistakes and within which cohesive communities of practice work together to improve their L2 skills. It is also important to remember that a teacher’s role is to inspire language use not only by correcting errors in speech but also through mediating language acquisition in the form of questions and elaboration requests. When it comes to correcting spoken language, teachers should give timely guidance, especially on matters of student concern, and preferably by giving metalinguistic information which helps learners to develop their own metacognitive awareness of the language they seek to master. It should be noted that this essay has focused on corrective techniques for spoken language, but there are parallel approaches which are advised for other productive skills and for receptive skills too. References Ammar, A. and Spada, N. (2006) “One size fits all?: Recasts, Prompts, and L2 Learning,” Studies in Second Language Acquisition. Cambridge University Press, 28(4), pp. 543–574. Dornyei, Z., Muir, C. (2019) Creating a motivating classroom environment. In X. A. Gao (Ed.) Second Handbook of English language Teaching. New York: Springer Ellis, R. Loewen, S. and Erlam, R. (2006) Implicit and explicit corrective feedback and the acquisition of L2 grammar. Studies in Second Language Acquisition 28(2) p.339–368. Hirazo Rivera, J.D. and Sagre Barboza, A. (2016) The co-construction of participation through oral mediation in the EFL classroom. Profile 18(1) pp.149-163 Lambert, C., Philp, J., Nakamura, S. (2017) Learner generated content and engagement in second language task performance. Language Teaching Research 21(6) pp. 665-680 Rahimi, M. and Zhang, L. J. (2016) The role of incidental unfocused prompts and recasts in improving English as a foreign language learners’ accuracy. The Learning Language Journal 44(2) pp. 257-268