Studies on Written Corrective Feedback: Theoretical Perspectives, Empirical Evidence, and Future Directions

  •  Ting Wang    
  •  Lin Jiang    


The role of written corrective feedback (WCF) in the process of acquiring a second language (L2) has been an issue of considerable controversies over past decades. This article intends to provide a critical review of the increasing number of WCF studies thus far and to inspire new perspectives for future research. It starts by briefly tracing the theoretical positions on the role of WCF in L2 instruction. Subsequently, a synthesis of empirical arguments with respect to the effectiveness of WCF, the relative merits of various WCF options, and the amenability of different error categories to WCF are presented. Based on all the evidence, two common limitations: the focus on form-oriented WCF options and the narrow range of target errors are critically discussed in the final part. It concludes by suggesting that an integration between such learning enhancing variables as micro context and written feedback, and that an extension of target structure from learners’ rule-governed errors to their non rule-governed errors should be investigated in future WCF studies so that fresh insights for WCF research could be achieved on one hand and pedagogical implications for L2 classroom instruction could be offered on the other.

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