problematic utterances, learners tended to interpret them as responses to content. So, the researcher suggested that the length of Recast and number of changes might partially determine the explicitness of recasts and thus affected the learners’ interpretation. These studies indicate that learners do experience difficulty in interpreting Recast as corrective feedback.
However, when Recasts certain features that make their corrective force explicit it is easy for them to interpret Recast accurately, but the nature of these features and their corresponding effect on the role of Recast in SLA remain unknown. This study attempted to analyze some of these features.
220.127.116.11. Experimental Studies
There is a growing body of experimental research on the effects of Recasts in SLA and the relative efficacy of recast and other types of corrective feedback.
Doughty and Varela (1998) compared the effects of corrective Recasts and the provision of no feedback. The results indicated that the Recast group showed significantly greater gains over the control group. Mackey and Philip (1998) also investigated the effects of intensive Recasts and concluded that Recasts might be effective when the learners were able to perceive the corrective nature of the recast. Likewise, Ishida (2004) also found a significant effect of Recast on the acquisition of Japanese aspectual form –tei(ru).
Moreover, Han (2002) showed that individualized attention, consistent focus, developmental readiness, and intensity might be necessary for Recasts to facilitate learning. Sheen (2008) found that language anxiety is also a factor influencing the effect of Recast and that less anxious learners could benefit more from Recasts. It can be concluded from the above studies that Recast is effective in leading to L2 grammatical development, especially when such learner characteristics as language level, attention and language anxiety are taken into consideration. It is also more effective when these characteristics are combined with other explicit features such as consistent focus and intensity.
However, no study has investigated the relative effectiveness of relatively implicit Recasts combined with other explicit features. This study made an effort to do so. Researchers did find, however, that Recast, which is generally regarded as a form of implicit negative feedback, is less effective than those explicit feedback forms such as models, prompts, elicitation, etc.
Lyster (2004) investigated the differential effects of recasts and prompts. The results indicated that the Recast group was inferior to the prompt group at posttests. This limited effectiveness of Recasts and the superiority of prompts was further reported by Ammar and Spada (2006) and Lyster and Izquierdo (2009). One of the major explanations they proposed for the superiority of prompt over Recast was its explicitness. That is, prompt was more explicit than Recast and thus highlighted the teacher’s corrective objective, which was far less explicit and quite ambiguous in Recast. Ellis, Lowen, and Erlam (2006) showed a clear advantage for Metalinguistic explanation over Recast. Likewise, Nassaji (2009) also found explicit feedback, i.e., elicitation, led to higher rates of immediate and delayed post interaction correction than Recasts.
It can be concluded from these studies that Recasts are less effective than explicit types of negative feedback such a prompt, elicitation, and Metalinguistic explanation. Its inferiority is acknowledged to be due to its ambiguous corrective force and the overt corrective nature of explicit negative feedback. Therefore, is it possible that if Recast is made more explicit, it could lead to greater developmental gain? However, to date no study has addressed this question. The present study made an attempt to answer it.
2.3. Researches Related to Metalinguistic Feedback
2.3.1. Categories of Metalinguistic Feedback
Metalinguistic Feedback can be divided into four broad categories (Tunmer, et al., 1988):
• Pragmatic awareness
Phonological and word awareness refer to the ability to think about and use phonemes and words. Syntactic awareness is the ability to think about the structure of language. The final category, pragmatic awareness, involves the purposes for which we use language (Snow, Burns, & Griffin, 1998). Perhaps with so much emphasis being placed on the development of phonological awareness, other aspects of language are being ignored. We believe that in a balanced literacy program, attention must also be placed on the syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic components of language learning of the four types of Metalinguistic abilities, phonological and word awareness have received the most attention (Tunmer, et al., 1988). Many Kindergarten and first grade teachers predominately focus on these aspects of Metalinguistic development.
This is understandable because there is much evidence to support that phonemic, awareness is a powerful predictor of later reading achievement (Juel, Griffith, & Gough 1986; Lomax and McGree, 1987; Tunmer & Nesdale, 1985). Because there are many resources for teachers on how to provide instruction that aids children in acquiring and developing phonemic awareness, we have chosen to focus this paper on instructional practices which teachers of emergent and early readers can use to enhance the learning of these other often overlooked aspects of language learning.
18.104.22.168. Syntactic Awareness
Syntactic awareness is an understanding for the structure of our language and influences reading development by enabling readers to monitor their comprehension processes and by helping children acquire useful word recognition skills other than sound symbol correspondence. (Tunmer et al., 1988; Roth, Speece, Cooper, De La Paz, 1996). Children with a good ear for the structures of standard English as well as literary structures are more skilled at trying out different pronunciations of words with uncommon spellings until they find the one that “sounds right” and “makes sense” in terms of standard language structures. This puts children who speak English as a second language or in an informal register (Joos, 1967) at a disadvantage. For instance, the pattern “ough” is pronounced differently in each of the following words: dough, cough, and rough.
In order to identify these words, a successful reader must know the different pronunciations for the spelling pattern, have word knowledge, and have a sense of what would be appropriate would be appropriate syntactically. Syntactic awareness is a skill that even young children can develop. Children under the age of two demonstrate knowledge of syntactic awareness when they understand the difference between two sentences where the subject and predicate are reversed. Very young children understand the difference between “Mommy is calling Daddy,” and “Daddy is calling Mommy.” As children mature, their own sentences grow in length and complexity. This sophistication allows them to understand and use more complex language (Snow et al., 1998).
Children become more sensitive to semantic and syntactic features in reading as they mature and have more opportunities to use language.
These skills develop dramatically in grades one through three (Muter & Snowling, 1998). If syntactical awareness is a fundamental language skill that children need to become successful readers, we need to ask how teachers can provide instruction that scaffolds the development of these skills.
There are several strategies that we have found to be effective. Teachers regularly engage in shared, interactive and guided writing with their students, but for the vast majority of time they model concepts of print, print conventions, and phonics skills. We have found that if time is spent modeling and thinking aloud about the structure of language and especially written language, children begin to internalize this knowledge. Following is a transcript of what this conversation and writing might look like:
Teacher: “I want to write about our trip to the zoo yesterday and
I need your help.” “What would be a good way to start my story?”
Turn to your neighbor and discuss possible ways to begin.
Teacher: Who would like to share what they discussed? Jeremy
Students: We think it would be good to start with “We went to the zoo yesterday.”
Teacher: Why do you and your partner think that is a good idea?
Student1: It sounds like other beginnings.
Teacher: Could we write the sentence another way using the same words?
Student2: Yesterday we went to the zoo.
T: Are both ways correct?
T: Does one sound more like how we talk? … Does one sound more like book language?
The above vignette shows a conversation in which the teacher is deliberately focusing the children’s attention on the differences between language patterns used in writing and speaking.
Another example illustrates how interactive writing can be used to help students who speak in nonstandard English develop an ear for more formal structures. Notice that the teacher uses this opportunity to teach explicitly.
S: “We got to go to the zoo yesterday.”
T: Yes, we did get to go to the zoo yesterday. When we write
we need to use formal language like we find in books. So
we would write “We got to go to the zoo yesterday.”
With an ESOL student, a teacher may find it necessary to provide more scaffolds and conduct this as a guided writing session. In this case, the teacher would work with one or two learners and guide them as they write the sentences on their own papers.
S: We get to go to the zoo yesterday.
T: (Teacher writes both sentences as she speaks) We get to go
to the zoo tomorrow. Yesterday we got to go to the zoo.
Now you say your sentence using the word got.
S: (Teacher writes the sentence as the child says it.) We got to
go to the zoo yesterday.
This would be followed up by making word cards for both of these sentences and having the child put the words together to make two correct sentences. After repeated practice and when the teacher is confident that the child can correctly reassemble the sentences, they will be sent home.
22.214.171.124. Pragmatic Awareness
Another kind of Metalinguistic Feedback is pragmatic awareness. Pragmatic awareness is the ability to use language appropriately in social contexts (Halliday, 1975, 1977; Snow et al., 1998). Snow et al. suggests that children develop pragmatic awareness in three areas. The first is conventional speech, such as requesting something, getting attention, or describing something. In the second area, children develop conversational skills like taking turns, sticking to a topic, and expanding a topic. The third area deals with producing extended autonomous speech like narratives, explanations, and definitions. Halliday (1975, 1977) explains that children develop socialized speech and an