What Error Correction Can(not) Accomplish for Second Language Writers
DIspelling Myths, Discussing Options
"I took a powerful lesson away from that first classroom experience, one that has shaped my subsequent teaching of L2 composition, my teacher training, my research, and my writing: It is simply not possible to get a whole class of student writers from Point A (wherever they start out) to Point B (perfect, error-free papers) by the end of one writing course." ---Dana R. Ferris
This content has been updated and expanded upon since originally appearing as Myth 5 in Writing Myths: Applying Second Language Research to Classroom Teaching,
edited by Joy Reid, in 2008.
This BEST OF MICHIGAN ELT ebook covers three aspects of L2 research that influence error correction:
- Second language acquisition takes time.
- Second language writers' texts are different from those written by native English speakers.
- Even diligent teacher correction and student editing does not lead to perfect, error-free texts.
In clear and simple terms, Ferris makes six suggestions for things teachers can do in the classroom regarding error correction and provides samples. Three detailed appendixes complement this discussion. The book closes by addressing the basic principles of developing students' language skills in second language/ESL writing classes.
Other issues regarding the expectations of students and others--such as in timed (high-stakes) situations--as it relates to "perfect" papers are examined.
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