Prof. Rod Ellis, Ph.D.
Oral Corrective Feedback in SLA: Taking a Holistic Perspective
In this talk I will begin by presenting a new study that investigated the effects of implicit and explicit recasts. Using this as an example of mainstream research that has investigated corrective feedback, I will discuss a number of different aspects, pointing to the complexity of CF as reflected in: 1. The general strategies that figure in CF typologies are not monolithic. Research is needed to examine how strategies such as recasts or metalinguistic clues are realised differently in different instructional contexts and with different learners. 2. CF can immediate or can be delayed; researchers have largely focused on immediate CF but there is a need to also investigate delayed CF. 3. The effectiveness of CF is dependent on conditions relating to how the feedback is carried out – with and without gestures, intensively or extensively, in a single or in multiple moves – and also whether it is available to just the receiver of the feedback or to non-receivers as well. 4. The effectiveness of CF may also depend on whether the feedback is graduated as proposed by researchers drawing on sociocultural theory or of the briefer, one-shot kind prominent in research based on cognitive-interactionist theories. 5. The effectiveness of CF varies according to the grammatical structure that is the target of the feedback. 6. The effectiveness of CF is mediated by various learner internal factors – their beliefs about learning and CF, their proficiency level, working memory capacity, language analytical ability, language anxiety and many other factors that differentiate the psychology of learners. I will conclude by suggesting that to achieve a better understanding of the complex nature of CF and its effect on L2 acquisition, the time may have come to step back from the endless experimental studies that characterize current enquiry and turn to interpretative research that is longitudinal and can shed light on CF as a holistic cognitive, social and affective phenomenon and on learners’ engagement with it.