Kyoko Gruendel, Kanda University of International Studies, TESOL MA Program
Gruendel, K. (2019). Reflecting on different types of successful recasts and uptake for a motivated adult learner. Relay Journal, 2(1), 170-181. https://doi.org/10.37237/relay/020121
*This page reflects the original version of this document. Please see PDF for most recent and updated version.
Nowadays, more and more people pay more attention to communicating in English in business world as well as in their everyday life. Especially, since the 2020 Olympics will be held in Tokyo, some people may be thinking that they would like to help tourists who come to Japan in any way they can. My adult learners seem to be no exception.
In order to gain understanding of my learners’ feelings and opinions, I asked my adult learners what they want to focus on the most among the four skills: listening, reading, writing, or speaking. Everyone responded that they would like to improve their speaking skills the most. Then, I asked them which aspect they want to focus on to study communicative skills. Most of them responded that they would like to study everyday English conversation. A few of those who would like to do volunteer work for the 2020 Olympics. A few of them would like to be able to use English for their business purposes. At the same time, there have been numerous requests that they would like me to correct their errors as much as possible.
This led me to the notion of corrective feedbacks on errors that my learners make since corrective feedback is very important in language learning and teaching. I often seem to rely on recasts when I give my learners corrective feedback. Many researchers argue that in general recasts occur very frequently in interaction with second language learners (Ellis & Sheen, 2006). In my teaching context, in some cases, my efforts by providing them with recasts as corrective feedbacks are recognized as correction, and they even show their uptake after they self-repair. In other cases, my efforts with recasts failed to be recognized.
To find out how I currently provide my learners with corrective feedbacks, I recorded one of my adult learners’ lessons, listened to it, and transcribed one segment to analyze my corrective feedbacks I currently provide. After reviewing the transcription, I noticed I used four recasts in this one-minute recording. My adult learner showed her uptake three times. Lyster (2002) claims that recasts may not be so effective since learners do not usually recognize errors that they are corrected. Hence, they do not notice target form. However, in this one-minute recording, out of four recasts, she showed her uptake three times. This made me wonder whether I might have used different recast techniques for these recasts such as words with stress, or shortened recasts so that she noticed the target form or meaning because there might have been some saliency for her. At this point, I started reading Sheen’s (2006) as well as Loewen and Philp’s (2006) articles. As I read the literature, I discovered there are many different types of recasts. This made me want to know what kinds of recasts I actually used for her to show her uptake. Then, I decided to look into different types of recasts to gain deeper understanding of them and reflect on them with my current practice and how I will be able to provide recasts more effectively in my teaching context in the future.
Discovery and diving into the literature
After I listened to and transcribed the recording, I reviewed it over and over to analyze the recasts I used. As I read the literature, certain quotes for a couple of different types of recasts I might have used stood out in particular:
According to Sheen (2006, p. 373), reduction involves recasts in which the reformulation is shorter than the learner’s erroneous utterance, which was previously identified as partial recasts (Sheen, 2006) and recasts with reduction (Lyster, 1998; Sheen, in press) and segmentation/segmented recast (Loewen & Philp, 2006)
Extract 1 (Sheen, 2006, p. 373)
S: yeah, Kal told me your height is rather shorter.
T: rather short. rather short. (Reduction)
According to Loewen and Philp (2006, p. 540), stressed recasts indicate the recaster may cue the learner to the particular problem is by means of prosodic emphasis, whereby a particular word or morpheme is stressed, as in Extract 2. This technique is used particularly for phonological problems, but, it can also be used for morphosyntactic items.
Extract 2 (Loewen and Philp, 2006, p. 541)
S: some people have racism
T: some people ARE racist. (stressed recast)
S: are racist
The followings are the excerpts from a private lesson with my learner whose level is intermediate:
Excerpt 1: Reduction (segmented recast)
|001||T:||did your kids play together?=|
|002||S:||=yeah. um, kid- we went to swimming, ah,|
|003||pool↑and to watch the fire flower ↑ (trigger)|
|004||T:||oh, fireworks display. (corrective move reduction)|
|005||S:||fire-, fire-fireworks display. (uptake)|
In Excerpt 1, when my learner utters “and watch the fire flower” in line 003, it becomes a trigger. Hence, the teacher provides a segmented recast as (fireworks display) in line 004. The learner self-repairs it and shows her uptake by saying, “fire-, fire-fireworks display” in line 005. According to Sheen (2006), her study shows that the majority of recast arising are short, more likely to be declarative in mode, reduced, with a single error focus. These characteristics in her study seem to be highly related to learner uptake and/or repair. It has been suggested that a possible reason for this is that these types of recasts are explicit rather than implicit, and more likely to be salient. Therefore, the more salient recasts are, the more effective they are to enhance interlanguage development (Sheen, 2006).
Excerpt 2: Reduction (segmented recast) (A is the name of my learner’s child.)
|023||S:||$haha$, ah 12, and second nephew is same age|
|024||with- same age A.= (trigger)|
|025||T:||=as A. (corrective move reduction)|
|026||S:||as A, and-o nie:ce is three. (uptake)|
In Excerpt 2, the same type of recast as in Excerpt 1, a reduction appears as the teacher’s recast. The learner seems to have wanted to say her second nephew is the same age as A. She utters “second nephew is same age with- same age A.” in line 023 and 024. Then, the teacher provides a segmented recast by saying “as A.” in line 025. Then, she shows her uptake by saying “as A, and-o nie:ce is three” in line 026. Once again, as Sheen (2006) claims, the findings of her study show that one of the majority of recasts arising in the classroom is reduction with a single error focus, and that appears to be related to learner uptake and/or repair in a positive way. Such recasts are regarded as explicit rather than implicit, and therefore more likely salient (Sheen, 2006). As I mentioned above, Sheen (2006) concludes that if recasts are more salient, they are more effective in promoting interlanguage development.
Excerpt 3: Stressed recast
|007||S:||and-o sho- went to shopping. (trigger)|
|008||T:||you went shopping. (corrective move recast)|
|009||S:||uhu, went to shopping and I= (no uptake)|
|010||T:||=you WENT shopping. (corrective move second time stressed recast)|
|011||S:||ah, we went shopping. (uptake)|
In Excerpt 3, the learner failed to remove the preposition, ‘to’ for “we went shopping” after “and-o” (L1 transfer the Japanese word ending with a vowel sound) in line 007. The teacher provides a recast by saying, “you went shopping” in line 008. The learner utters the same sentence, “went to shopping” in line 009. The teacher once again responds with stressed recast, “you WENT shopping” in line 010 the second time. This time, the learner seems to notice the teacher’s correction, and she self-repairs it after she utters ‘ah’. In the end, she shows her uptake by saying, “ah, we went shopping” in line 011. According to Ellis and Shintani (2014), recasts offer input to learners. Learning occurs when he/she notices correction and compares cognitively. (i.e. attends to the difference between his/her own error and feedback as his/her target input a teacher provides). When my first attempt failed with the recast, I might have thought I should let her notice her error. Hence, I might have tried the recast the second time with stress on the target item, that is, ‘WENT without the preposition of ‘to’. It is important to let her notice the correction and gap, then that is the first time it becomes her input and notices the gap and her uptake appears. According to Loewen and Philp (2006, p. 549), the fact that they tended to be segmented, stressed, and declarative, led learners to understand them as corrective and, therefore, to repeat them. They also claim that certain characteristics of recasts positively projected successful uptake and test scores: recasts with stress etc.
Reflection and Conclusion
The above is a handful examples that I showed in this one-minute recording. The recasts I used in this recording seem to show my learner’s uptake in most of the cases. However, I did not conduct any post-test. Therefore, at some point, if an opportunity arises, I would like to conduct a study for a post-test.
My learner would like to use English communicative skills in her business purposes, and she is very motivated in her L2 learning. Based on Robinson’s statement (2005), motivational and affective forces also exert an influence on how well the hierarchical structure of basic cognitive abilities and aptitude complexes is utilized in the real-world conditions. This Robinson’s view and perception seem to add support to her case. Ortega (2013) states that the benefits of recasts may be enhanced more by individuals who are very motivated because they may consider every encounter in their L2 as an opportunity to learn.
Although the recasts that we looked at seem to have some advantageous factors to consider based on the study Sheen in 2006 and Loewen and Philp in 2006 conducted respectively, it is also important to consider what my teaching context is and what my learners’ proficiency levels are (Ellis & Shintani, 2014).
Researchers claim that providing recasts does not interrupt the flow of their conversations. According to Lyster and Ranta (1997) and Panova and Lyster (2002) found that recasting was clearly the preferred feedback technique. This indicates that recasts are handy corrective feedback tools that teachers can easily use. The recasts we looked at seem to be effective in my learner’s L2 learning. However, as Lyster and Ranta (1997, p. 56) put it, teachers might want to consider the whole range of techniques they have at their disposal rather than relying so extensively on recasts. As a teacher, I should further study different types of recasts along with other types of corrective feedbacks and conduct their effectiveness in my teaching context in the near future.
From the recording, I also learned that I was inconsistent in correcting the learner’s errors. In some cases, I did, and in other, I did not. I might have unconsciously known that I might interfere the conversation flow if I overcorrected them. As Ellis and Shintani (2014) put it, correcting students may be considered to be necessary, however, it may also be possibly dangerous because it can harm learners’ receptivity to learning. Therefore, teachers need to provide a supportive atmosphere and caring solidarity (Ur, 1991). It is equally important for a teacher to create warm and compassionate atmosphere where learners are allowed to produce errors. I also might have known subconsciously that overcorrection might damage her feelings and motivation to carry on our conversation since affective factors also play a key role in language learning. There might be some individual differences I might have thought about. As Allwright (1975, pp. 98-99) states, for inconsistency of teachers’ error treatment, teachers must adjust their treatment of any error to the needs of the moment. In addition, he states that teachers also must consider learners’ individual differences including cognitive style as well as consider their motivational needs.
Through this very limited study, I was able to add new insights to my teaching and valuable learning experience about the way I provide recasts with one of my learners and the way she shows her uptake. As Lyster et al. states (2013, p. 30), “The most effective teachers are likely to be those who are willing and able to orchestrate, in accordance with their students’ language abilities and content familiarity, a wide range of CF types that fit the instructional context.” To improve my teaching skills as well as best serve to my learners as a teacher, I need to continue to further study and conduct research for not only recasts but other different types of corrective feedbacks and how I may be able to offer them in my teaching context more effectively in the future.
How Has This Knowledge Contributed to My Own Autonomy/Knowledge as a Teacher?
In this small finding, I could discover what teacher roles need to be and learned that the following three roles play crucial parts as a teacher. According to Voller (1997), three teacher roles in autonomous learning are mentioned as follows: a facilitator, in which the teacher is considered to be seen as offering support for language learning; a counsellor, where the emphasis is focused on one-on-one interaction; and finally resource, in which the teacher is regarded as a source of knowledge and expertise.
As a facilitator, when I carefully analyzed and reflected on my conversations with my learner in this one-minute recording, I realized that I might have been trying to be a listener and at the same time, I might have been trying to be a facilitator to help my learner with what she wanted to say so that she would be able to build sentences more accurately for the next step as well as for continuing our conversations. In an autonomous classroom, teachers should not just provide information or sources of answers. As Reinders and Balcikanli states (2011, pp. 16-17), “teacher autonomy is also usually conceived of as including the ability to understand the students’ learning needs and the ability to support them in their development towards autonomy.” By understanding students’ learning needs, a teacher can provide accurate corrective feedbacks at the point of need. In addition, a teacher who can facilitate a conversation for their learning with their students successfully has to be able to be observant and patient to try to understand what they need to learn and how they need to learn from their conversations with their teachers. Chiu (2005) describes that a facilitator of learning is in general regarded as a helper who makes learning easier to happen. Therefore, as a facilitator, it is also necessary to create a safe and comfortable environment where they can feel that it is okay to make mistakes and learn from them so that teachers make sure that their learning occurs without fail.
As a counsellor, a teacher must cherish each interaction and conversation between their learners and teachers. Furthermore, a teacher needs to be an effective and convincing communicator. Depending on this teacher’s capacity, this capacity could decide on the factor to enhance learners’ motivation and autonomous learning. Richards and Rodgers (1986) explains that a teacher-counselor is supposed to exemplify an effective communicator seeking to maximize the leaner engagement through using interpretation, confirmation, and feedback. I always assumed that I cherish my conversations with my learners and try to be effective in the way I could offer corrective feedbacks. In this recording, I learned that I could have been just lucky that my learner had noticed gap and errors and showed her uptake three times out of four corrective feedbacks. Instead of assuming that I could be an effective communicator, I need to make more effort to be a better communicator and more effective when providing appropriate corrective feedbacks since there are different types of corrective feedbacks, explicit vs. implicit, recasts vs. explicit corrections etc. As a teacher, a teacher needs to have a capacity to encourage learners to engage in their language learning in a better way by providing accurate corrective feedbacks to be able to carry out conversations. For this reason, as a counsellor, a teacher needs to be perceptive enough to know what kind of corrective feedbacks teachers should use and study further in order to help their learners progress to the next step.
As for resource, the teacher is regarded as a source of knowledge and expertise (Voller, 1997). It is extremely important for a teacher to have knowledge and expertise about various factors, not only grammatical rules and wide range of vocabulary but also pronunciation and different types of tools including corrective feedbacks. Yan (2012) explains that the teacher is supposed to be the language resource and should be responsible for offering language learning input whenever it is necessary. In this sense, I believe a teacher needs to be language learning environment as learners’ resource. At the students’ point of need, learners need to be in the environment where they can use their teachers’ resources to maximize their learning. I believe by making myself available for my learners, I become their language learning environment. For this reason, I learned that I need to further study different types of corrective feedbacks to provide learners with better resources as their learning environment.
Last but not least, teachers constantly learn new skills and gain new knowledge in our profession. In this sense, teachers are learners. As Benson (2011) states as a teacher-learner, continuing experiences of self-direction in teacher-learning lead to teacher’s efforts to promote learner autonomy. In addition, as Little says “…since learning arises from interaction and interaction is characterized by interdependence, the development of autonomy in learners presupposes the development of autonomy in teachers” (Little, 1995, p. 175). I strongly believe “since teachers influence learners in a great way by interacting with learners in classrooms, it is important for teachers to be autonomous and show their autonomous approaches in their teaching and learning” (Gruendel, 2018, p. 142). In order to develop learner autonomy, I would like to continuously develop my teacher-learner autonomy. I believe teacher autonomy means a teacher keeps asking themselves how their teaching can promote autonomous learning. Thus, “teachers need to be open to continuous improvement and development of their new skills and knowledge and itself further develops teacher autonomy” (Gruendel, 2018, p. 144). From this finding, once again, I was convinced as a teacher, I would like to continuously gain various skills and knowledge including corrective feedbacks and have a capacity to reflect on how I can use more appropriate corrective feedbacks more effectively and put them into practice so that I will be able to best serve to my learners in the near future.
Notes on the Contributor
Kyoko Gruendel is a graduate student in the MA TESOL Program at Kanda University of International Studies in Tokyo. She currently teaches students at her school as well as a vocational school in Japan. She has been teaching English over 10 years. Her interests include motivational/affective learning, autonomous learning, and teacher development.
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