Reflections on Appropriate Feedback and Error Correction in ELL Essay

Reflections on Appropriate Feedback and Error Correction in ELL Essay

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Error correction is a delicate balance, and not for the faint-of-heart. Error correction of ELL students is a useful tool in the hands of a skillful educator. It can point a learner toward discovering correct answers, motivate and push them to work a little harder, and engage a receptive student with useful and informative feedback. Error correction, however, is NOT a punishment. Nor is it an opportunity to denigrate or shame a learner – consciously or unconsciously. Most of us want to be corrected constructively, thoughfully, and respectfully. ELL students deserve no less.
In this essay I will discuss error correction in the context of ELL instruction. Specifically I will describe the Error Correction Hypothesis, strategies for error correction and corrective feedback that instructors can use with ELL students, how and when to provide appropriate feedback regarding errors, and the possible effects of error correction on the student’s affective filter.

The Error Correction Hypothesis
The question of whether receiving error corrective feedback can actually hurt an ELL student’s ability to learn is the focus of the Error Correction Hypothesis. Stephen Krashen, in his Affective Filter Hypothesis, puts forth the idea that learners have an Affective Filter which is triggered by emotional variables such as anxiety or stress. Once activated, this filter can operate as an unintended barrier, hindering one’s ability to receive input, and therefore learning. As a result, Krashen advocates for limited error correction in second language instruction, and primarily as a clarification in meaning.
On the other hand, Vigil and Oller believe that error correction is necessary for ELL students. In their Communication Feedback...

... middle of paper ...
Johnson, K. (1988). Mistake Correction. ELT Journal, 42(2), 89-96.
Lennon, P. (2006, October 27). Investigating Fluency in EFL: A Quantitative Approach*. Wiley Online Library. Retrieved February 8, 2014, from
Lightbown, P., & Spada, N. M. (2006). How languages are learned (3rd ed.). Oxford [england: Oxford University Press.
Nation, I. S., & Newton, J. (2009). Teaching ESL/EFL listening and speaking. New York: Routledge.
Tomasello, M., & Herron, C. (n.d.). Transfer Errors: The Garden Path Technique., Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 1989. ERIC - Feedback for Language Transfer Errors: The Garden Path Technique., Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 1989. Retrieved February 8, 2014, from

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