Background to L2 Writing
“Writing for L2 students was until the 1970s, primarily perceived as language practice, designed to help students manipulate grammatical forms or utilise newly learned vocabulary items “(Ferris, 2002:p. 3). An example will be `write about what you did last week` which practises the past tense form. Teachers used to adopt a product approach which focuses on correcting all language errors rather than organisation or ideas of the text. Teachers will mark each writing piece as the final draft and assume students will not repeat their mistakes again in future writings (Grabe and Kaplan, 1996).
“However in the 1970s, native English speaking composition practitioners and theorists began to focus on writers themselves and on the process they used to write texts” (Ferris, 2002: p. 4). This led to major paradigm shift from product approach to process approach and had implications on L1 writers and consequently L2 writers adopted the process model as well focusing more on ideas rather than the accuracy of the written work (Ferris, 2002).
(Zamel, 1985) was among the main advocates to encourage the idea of allowing insights from L1 to encourage L2 writing, however studies showed that “pedagogical suggestions designed for L1 writers needed to be critically revaluated before transferring it to L2 writers” (Ferris, 2002: p.4). Among the many distinctions is that L2 writers’ errors often relate to incorrect transfer from their L1 and inadequate acquisition of L2 (Ferris, 2002).
Controversy surrounding corrective feedback
Teachers give students CF for many reasons, first they believe CF is part of their job and is expected of them from parents, students and stakeholders. It is also because students can revise their own work, write a more accurate draft and acquire a better language (Ellis, 2008). However, “the research literature has not been unequivocally positive about the role of CF in writing development “(Hyland and Hyland, 2006:p.83) and this following section will discuss the negative and positive perspective of CF in L2 writing.
Truscott (1996) holds a strong view against CF in writing and argues that correcting grammar and language errors is harmful and detrimental to L2 writing. He makes the point that CF can demotivate students “even students who believe that correction is a necessary part of learning do not enjoy the sight of red ink all over their writing” (Truscott, 1996:p. 354). Students when they see their errors might avoid attempting complex structures and instead only write in simpler sentences which are grammatically correct in order to avoid mistakes.
Truscott (1996) points out how Second language acquisition (SLA) suggests that learning is not a linear process and that learners learn in a certain order. This means when students are “corrected on a point for which they are not yet ready, the correction is not likely to have much value” (Truscott 1996: p.344) and doesn’t necessarily indicate any learning has...