Beginning and advanced learners' awareness of corrective feedback in the Arabic foreign language classroom
Corrective feedback as part of conversational interaction has been shown to facilitate language development (Li, 2010; Russel & Spada, 2006), but learners differ in the extent to which they benefit from it. Awareness is one cognitive process that has been proposed to play a supportive (Gass, 1997; Schmidt, 2009) to essential (Carroll, 2001) role in moderating feedback effectiveness. Language proficiency has also been suggested to influence the way learners engage with feedback (Ammar & Spada, 2006; Philp, 2003). However, the relationship between proficiency and awareness of feedback during classroom interaction has not yet been empirically addressed.In this study, five intact Arabic classes - four beginning and one advanced - were observed and videotaped during unscripted whole-class conversational activities. Volunteers from each class (26 beginners, 5 advanced) then participated in a stimulated recall interview in order to gauge their awareness of the target and corrective intent of classroom feedback. The interview protocols were coded for presence or absence of awareness, and analyzed in relation to three characteristics of the feedback episode to which they were referring: type, linguistic target, and direction. Qualitative thematic analysis of the protocols was used to identify additional factors in learners' awareness of feedback.Advanced learners reported awareness of correction 79% and awareness of target 41% of the time, significantly more frequently than beginners (54% and 27%, respectively). None of the feedback characteristics investigated in the study was significantly associated with advanced learners' awareness, but all three were significantly associated with beginning learners' awareness. Thematic analysis of interview protocols showed that learner awareness was additionally influenced by the presence of new information in the episode, affective response to the feedback or its addressee, and external factors such as fatigue. The findings highlight the role of proficiency in feedback awareness and suggest a need for further exploration of the influence of affect on learner engagement with feedback
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