Training in error identification paving the way toward learner autonomy
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Training in error identification -Paving the way toward learner autonomy. Claudia Kunschak Marcia Peterson Shantou University. Motivation for research. English teaching reform Communicative Language Teaching “They know their grammar”

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Training in error identification paving the way toward learner autonomy l.jpg

Training in error identification -Paving the way toward learner autonomy

Claudia Kunschak

Marcia Peterson

Shantou University


Motivation for research l.jpg
Motivation for research learner autonomy

  • English teaching reform

  • Communicative Language Teaching

  • “They know their grammar”

  • “We don’t want/need grammar, we’ve had it for the past 8/10/12 years”

  • Test focus

  • Perceived gap competence-performance

  • Grammar in context/text grammar in CLT


Previous studies and theoretical underpinnings l.jpg
Previous studies and theoretical underpinnings learner autonomy

  • James, C. (1998)

    • Error vs. mistake

    • Grammaticality-acceptability-correctness-strangeness or infelicity

    • Detection-location-description-classification of errors => profiling

    • Substance, text, lexical, grammar, discourse error

    • Noticing error

  • Chu, C. (1998): Chinese grammar has to be understood on the discourse level

  • Huang, X. (2005): Grammar, use of words and textual cohesion are main difficulties for Chinese learners

  • Ferris, D. (2003): Students can attend to macro- and micro-level feedback at the same time

  • Wong, H. & Storey, P. (2006): Awareness of writing process improves production

  • Little, D. (2002): Learner autonomy provides effective and efficient, motivational and social environment


Research questions l.jpg
Research questions learner autonomy

  • Why is there such a wide gap between competence and performance in selected grammatical features?

  • How can this gap be narrowed?

  • How do Chinese learners self-evaluate their grammatical competence/performance?

  • What importance do they attribute to grammar in the various skills and in general?

  • How are they analyzing text when revising?

  • What difference does language awareness training in the form of error identification make?


Study design l.jpg
Study design learner autonomy

  • 9 groups of 30+ students

  • 3 levels

  • Experimental and control groups

  • Pre-test, post-test, exercises, interviews

  • Text with 6 verb-tense errors, 3 subject-verb agreement, 3 articles, 3 pronouns

  • Comparison with MC placement test


Findings from the placement test compared to error identification l.jpg

86.76 % correct answers in MC learner autonomy

30.16 % correct identifications in pretest

Findings from the placement test compared to error identification


Placement test vs error identification in verb tense l.jpg

79.84% correct answers in verb tenses learner autonomy

26.27% correct identifications in pretest

Placement test vs. error identification in verb tense





Baseline data l.jpg

7 native speaking teachers learner autonomy

Baseline data


Breakdown by majors l.jpg
Breakdown by majors learner autonomy


Interviews l.jpg
Interviews learner autonomy

  • Students declared they understood the meaning of the text but not the grammar

  • Students admitted that they chose the errors mainly based on their gut feeling

  • Students picked errors for the wrong reason (verb tense, verb/adj., sg./pl.) – Corrections were not always ascertained

  • Students were able explain their choices based on rules but sometimes overapplied them

  • When prompted, students were able to explain items they had not chosen

  • Students expressed a preference for listening/speaking over writing


Examples of errors chosen for the wrong reason l.jpg
Examples of errors chosen for the wrong reason learner autonomy

  • As hospital personnel working in maternity are aware for a long time now…

    • personnel as singular, aware as verb

  • When the calm infant hear the sound of other infants crying, they…

    • “the” must be singular, hear follows infant

  • …they too begin to sob.

    • too in the end=>also, too+adj+to+verb


Suggestions from students l.jpg
Suggestions from students learner autonomy

  • More feedback on writing

  • Error identification exercises

  • Grammar self-study

  • Correct input by teacher

  • Some sentences written on the board

  • Translation Chinese-English

  • Few are willing to exchange journals


Discussion l.jpg
Discussion learner autonomy

  • Obvious gap between rule-based knowledge and applied grammar

  • SVA –– Verb tense - Pronoun – Article

  • Visible difference according to level

  • Clear difference pre- post

  • No consistent difference experimental-control

  • Additional gap between identification and correction


Implications l.jpg
Implications learner autonomy

  • Continued integrated skills approach

  • New approach to grammar review

  • Involvement of students

  • Support of teachers

  • Based on language awareness

  • Focused on typical problem areas

  • Emphasis on writing

  • Potential expansion to include listening/speaking


References l.jpg
References learner autonomy

  • Krashen, S. (1981) Second language learning and second language acquisition. Oxford: Pergamon Press.

  • Pienemann, M. (1998) Language processing and second language development: Processability theory. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

  • James, C. (1998) Errors in language learning and use: Exploring Error Analysis. London: Longman.

  • Connor, U. (1996). Contrastive Rhetoric: Cross-cultural aspects of second language writing. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Ferris, D. (2003). Response to student writing: Implications for second language students. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

  • Huang, X. (2005). Multilevel analysis of Chinese EFL learners’ errors in their writing. Celea Journal 28(5), 24-32.

  • Chu, C. (1998). A discourse grammar of Mandarin Chinese. New York: Peter Lang.

  • Hengeveld, K. & Mackenzie, J L. (2006). Functional discourse grammar. In Keith Brown (Ed.), Encyclopedia of language and linguistics (2nd ed.), pp. 668-676. Amsterdam: Elsevier.

  • Little, D. (2002). Learner autonomy and second/foreign language learning. In The guide to good practice for learning and teaching in languages, linguistics and area studies. LTSN Subject Center for Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies. University of Southampton.

  • Wong, H. & Storey, P. (2006). Knowing and doing in the ESL writing class. Language Awareness 15(4), 283-300.


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