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Treatment of Error in Second Language Writing

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Presentation on theme: "Treatment of Error in Second Language Writing"— Presentation transcript:

1 Treatment of Error in Second Language Writing
Dana Ferris California State University, Sacramento

2 Workshop Outline 9:30-10:00: Introduction, workshop outline, warm-up discussion 10:00-10:30: Error Feedback: Questions, issues, and options 10:30-10:45: Break 10:45-11:15: Error feedback workshop activity (individual, SG, LG) 11:15-11:45: Beyond error correction: Other treatment options 11:45-12:00: Q & A; wrap-up

3 Issues, Questions, & Options
What is an error? Should we mark for “errors” or “style”?  What kinds of errors do ESL writers most typically make? Should error feedback be selective or comprehensive? Should error feedback focus on larger or smaller categories or types? Should feedback be direct or indirect? Should errors be labeled or located? Should error feedback be given in the text or in an end note? How can teachers conserve energy and avoid burnout in responding to L2 student writers’ errors?

4 What is an error? Should we mark for “errors” or “style”?
A working definition: Errors are morphological, syntactic, and lexical forms which deviate from accepted norms of standard written English and which violate the expectations of literate native speakers. A working definition: Error—“an unsuccessful bit of language” (Carl James, 1998, p. 1). “Error” is a tricky concept—does it include style and register variation? What about regional and dialectal variation? Best way to think about error is probably in terms of a “core of correctness” upon which most native speakers would agree. Like Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart once said about pornography, I may not be able to define it, but “I know it when I see it.” In my own work on error treatment in ESL writing, I tend to exclude considerations of minor wording changes, formality, etc. and focus on “core” language errors. [I find that this gives me plenty to work on with most students!

5 What kinds of errors do ESL writers most typically make?
Variation depending upon L1, “eye” vs. “ear” learner, etc. Studies suggest that ESL writers struggle in the following major areas:

6 Major Error Patterns Verbs: Errors in tense/aspect, form, agreement
Nouns: Missing, unnecessary, or incorrect endings or determiners, agreement errors Word Choice Errors: Using the wrong semantic form

7 Major Error Patterns Word Form Errors: Using the wrong syntactic form of a word. Sentence Boundary Errors: Run-ons, fragments, and comma splices Sentence Structure: Errors in word order, missing or unnecessary words, unidiomatic construction

8 Major Error Patterns Mechanical or Usage Errors: Spelling or typing
Capitalization Punctuation, especially missing or unnecessary commas, semi-colons, or apostrophes.

9 Should error feedback be selective or comprehensive?
Selective: Does not overwhelm teachers & students, helps students focus on major error patterns Comprehensive: Avoids fossilization, gives students feedback and input for acquisition Feedback choice: Depends upon stage of process and goals of feedback

10 Larger or Smaller Error Categories?
Larger: Less margin for teacher error, less confusing to students, discrete types can be hard to distinguish Smaller: Gives students more specific information, helpful for mini-lessons or independent study My view: Larger is better!

11 Larger or Smaller Error Categories?
My father had create a good environment for me even though we live in a small house. These are the ways my parents influence my reading and writing. Verb tense? Verb form? ????

12 Larger or Smaller Error Categories?
This gave me a hard time since child… Word choice? Word form? Sentence structure? ????

13 Larger or Smaller Error Categories?
I faced obstacle in the new country. Missing noun ending? Missing article? ????

14 Larger or Smaller Error Categories?
It’s time to go aboard to do my research. Wrong word? Spelling? ????

15 Feedback Options Original Text Portion: I never needed to worry about my parents because they knew everything and could go anywhere they want. wanted 1. Direct Correction: …could go anywhere they want. 2. Error Location: … could go anywhere they want. VT 3. Error Code: …could go anywhere they want. 4. Error Symbol: …could go anywhere they want _^ _ tense 5. Verbal Cue: …could go anywhere they want. 6. Sample End Comment: As you revise, be sure to check your verbs to see if they need to be in past or present tense.

16 Direct or Indirect Feedback?
Research: Students prefer direct feedback but benefit more from indirect feedback Possible roles for direct feedback: lower L2 proficiency levels, idiomatic usage (e.g., prepositions), information at end of writing process

17 Combining Direct & Indirect Feedback
Student Text Portion with Direct & Indirect Feedback Combined sp It is possible for some immigrants to be truely happy in America. to They hope can find happiness in here, and most of them ww find it. Even they are not truely happy in here, but they vf still being so strong to continue on the life road.

18 Label or Locate Errors? Arguments for Labeling: More informative; can be tied to in-class instruction or self-study materials Arguments for Locating: More student autonomy, less opportunity for teacher error

19 In-Text Correction or End Note?
Students prefer point-of-error correction; more informative End note option requires more student engagement Teachers might consider weaning students to less explicit feedback as term progresses

20 Conserving Energy & Avoiding Burnout
Do not feel that you must give written error feedback on every single paper students write. Assess what your students know, find out what they want, and design your feedback strategies accordingly. Set realistic goals for error feedback. Make most of your feedback indirect, focused on error location rather than identification, and verbal (not tied to codes or symbols). As time goes on, mark fewer errors and require the students to take increasing responsibility for their own progress.

21 Conflicts of Cultural and Languages Metamorphosis
Minorities are groups of people that have in common racial, ethnic, or religion, especially when it constitutes a small quantity of a population. Minorities often have fewer rights and less power than majority groups. One reason of the existence of minorities is immigration. When culture and class difference between groups of people, it can cause inequalities or discrimination. Being a minority group affect a person identity in a negative way, specially when you are different in culture and race.

22 Workshop Text, continued
I grow up being a minority group in my native country, Panama. “This affect a person’s identity radically.” I can say that for my experience. Just for being the minority group, most of the time you are the target of their criticism. If you get something well done they get jealous, in contrast they laugh. When you are the minority group you feel like in another world even though you are in the same country. You want to be accepted by them. You don’t want to be a lonely wolf, you want to be in the pack of wolves.

23 Beyond Error Correction: Other Treatment Options (T-Error, Ch. 5)
Assessment of Student Needs Consciousness-Raising and Strategy Training Grammar Instruction Editing Workshops Tracking Progress Moving Towards Autonomy

24 Questions and (Maybe) Answers!

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