Techniques Used by Teachers in Correcting Students‟ Oral Errors in an Omani Boys School

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Abstract—This study aimed to elicit the types of oral corrective feedback that was used by teachers and mostly preferred by students in both cycles of the Basic educational System in Oman. The paper discussed the results of data collected by using

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  Techniques Used by Teachers in Correcting Students ‟  Oral Errors in an Omani Boys School Ibrahim Mohamed Al-Faki English Language Institute, King Abdul Aziz University, KSA; on Secondment from Wadi El-Neel University, Sudan Ahmed Gumaa Siddiek (Corresponding Author) English Department, P.O. Box 18, Dawadami, Shaqra University, KSA 11911 Abstract   —  This study aimed to elicit the types of oral corrective feedback that was used by teachers and mostly preferred by students in both cycles of the Basic educational System in Oman. The paper discussed the results of data collected by using three instruments: a teacher's preferences elicitation instrument, a student’s preferences elicitation instrument, and a classroom observation checklist. Then the results were processed to test these hypotheses that: Teachers of English at C2 & PB levels of boys Educational System in Oman use different types of oral correction techniques. It was also hypothesized that there would be a significant difference between these teachers’ attitudes about oral corrective feedback and their actual practice. In addition to that, students at C2 and PB would expect specific oral corrective feedback approaches from their teachers. The data was processed and all hypotheses were proved to be positive. We made some recommendations, with suggestions for further investigations on the same topic. Index Terms   —  corrective feedback, error analysis, oral communicative competence I.   I  NTRODUCTION    A. Statement of the Problem The idea behind this survey stems from the fact that, as experienced teachers of English in the field, we have noticed that some teachers have poor teaching performance due to lack of teaching techniques or due to lack of judging timely   interference to modify learners‟  oral error during classes. Having this in mind, we have decided to share our experience with these teachers to provide them with some suggestions that might improve their interfering techniques, to improve oral performance and attain successful communication.  B. Research Hypotheses: We aim to examine these hypotheses that : 1. Teachers of English at C2& PB levels of boys Educational System in Oman use different types of oral correction techniques.   2. There is a significant difference between these teachers ‟ attitudes towards oral corrective feedback and their actual  practice. 3. Students at C2 and PB of the Boys Educational System in Oman expect specific oral corrective feedback approaches from their teachers. C. Objective of the Study: English Language teachers can use the techniques of oral correction to boost students learning. Therefore, in conducting this is study we are trying to: 1. To find out if the male English Language teachers in Oman use different types of oral correction techniques at C2 and PB levels. 2. To compare the English teachers‟ attitudes towards corrective feedback with their actual performance in their classes. 3. To realize the types of oral corrective feedback techniques that students prefer more, to be used by their teachers to support their learning at each educational level at the Post-Basic (PB) in the Omani education context.  D. The Significance of the Study: This study is intended to investigate error correction techniques used by EFL teachers, so it is mainly targeting English language teachers in the field. We hope to provide our fellow teachers with some ideas from our own experience in the field. The findings of the survey will also be of great use to course and textbook designers, as it will give some insight to embed some ideas in their work. This will benefit both EFL teachers and learners. ISSN 1799-2591Theory and Practice in Language Studies, Vol. 3, No. 10, pp. 1770-1783, October 2013© 2013 ACADEMY PUBLISHER Manufactured in Finland.doi:10.4304/tpls.3.10.1770-1783 © 2013 ACADEMY PUBLISHER   II.   R  ELATED S TUDIES   Oral corrective feedback plays a significant role in the learning process. Relevant literature reveals that there is “… a growing consensus among the majority of researchers concerning the significance of the role played by negative evidence (corrective feedback) in the process of SLA” . El Tatawy (2002), Ellis, Basturkmen, & Loewen (2001), Loewen (2004) and Lyster & Ranta (1997) are with the idea that the role played by oral corrective feedback in the English classroom cannot be ignored. There are a number of previous studies that dealt with the oral corrective feedback, its types, the relationship between teachers‟ attitudes and practices, and t he preferences of students. One of the earliest international studies in this field was conducted by Chaudron (1977). In his study, Chaudron examined the effect of corrective feedback on oral production of students. He investigated the effect of different types of oral corrective feedback provided to French immersion students by their teachers. Chaudron observed that “repetition with emphasis” was more effective than the other types of oral corrective feedback, as it led to more immediate reformulation on the part of students (Russell & Spada, 2006). A number of studies then examined the use of different types of oral corrective feedback. For example, Doughty (1994) in his observation of different types of oral corrective feedback used by different teachers, found that “clarification requests”, “repetition” and “recasts” were the most frequently used types (Russell & Spada, 2006). One of the important studies in this area was the one conducted by Lyster and Ranta in (1997). In their study, they investigated the use of oral corrective feedback by teachers in grades 4 and 5 French immersion classrooms. They identified six feedback types of oral corrective feedback used by teachers: explicit correction, recast, clarification requests, metalinguistic feedback, elicitation, and repetition. They found that recasts were the most common type of corrective feedback used by the teachers. From that time onwards, a number of researchers, like this research, used Lyster and Ranta‟ s (1997) model of oral corrective feedback for analyzing the types of oral corrective feedback used by teachers in different parts of the world. For example, Lin (2009), investigated the types of oral corrective feedback that ESL teachers used in low, intermediate, and advanced level speaking cl assrooms using Lyster and Ranta‟s (1997) model. He involved participants from ESL  program at a Southern California State University. The results showed that lower level students were corrected by their teachers more than the higher level students and that recasts were the most frequent used types. Panova and Lyster (2002) also conducted an observational study in which they involved some early-intermediate adult ESL classrooms in Quebec. They also found that recasts were the most frequent type of oral corrective feedback used by the teachers. At the regional level, Tabatabaei and Banitalebi (2011) investigated the most frequent type of oral corrective feedback techniques used by L2 Iranian teachers in L2 reading comprehension classes in an Iranian language institute. They focused on explicit correction, recast, clarification request, metalinguistic feedback, elicitation, and repetition. They found that explicit correction was the most frequent feedback technique used by teachers and elicitation was the second one (49% & 19%, respectively). They applied a Chi-square test and the results showed that there was a significant difference among the frequencies of the feedback types in favour of explicit correction. To the best knowledge of the researcher  s‟ knowledg e, no one has investigated the teachers' attitudes and their actual  practice about oral corrective feedback in the Arab region. The closest study to this area was conducted by Kartchava (2006) in which the researcher investigated novice ESL teachers' beliefs about oral corrective feedback and their  practice. The results indicated both consistency and inconsistency in the relationship. The 99 teachers-in-training were consistent in the type of oral corrective feedback they chose to use in the classrooms, but they corrected fewer errors in their classrooms than they said they would. Finally, and as stated previously, there are some studies that dealt with the issue of students‟ preferences regarding oral corrective feedback types. Ancker (2000) in his survey examined teachers‟ and students‟ expectations of error correction. The results of his study go, line by line, with Nunan (1993) one in which he examines the relationship  between the attitudes of students and teachers to a range of activities.   III.   M ETHODOLOGY    A. Population and Sample The population of this study is 326 male teachers in Muscat Governorate who teach at boys schools, from whom the oral corrective feedback was provided as (30) English language teachers were investigated. The population is divided into two stratum, (200) expatriate teachers and (126) Omani teachers. Stratified random selection was made to select (15) teachers from C2, (6 Omani & 9 expatriates) and (15) teachers from PB schools, (6 Omani & 9 expatriates). Six classes from two states were involved in this study including a class from each of Grades 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12. From each class (25) students are selected to represent the students population which makes total of (150) students.  B. Instruments These three instruments were developed based on the related literature and they are of the qualitative type. C. The Observation Checklist THEORY AND PRACTICE IN LANGUAGE STUDIES1771© 2013 ACADEMY PUBLISHER   T he term „observation‟ is used as a research tool that offers researcher  s an opportunity to gather „live‟ data from “naturally occurring situations” where the researcher can actually look directly at what is happening in situation rather than depending on second-hand data source, (Cohen et al 2007). Based on that, the researchers designed the observation checklist to record down oral corrective feedback types used by the target teachers at the two levels of the boys schooling - C2 and PB.    D. The Teacher’s Preference Elicitation Questionnaire   The Teacher‟s Prefer  ence Elicitation Questionnaire was adapted from Michael (2007 to elicit the types of oral corrective feedback that teachers prefer to use to correct their students‟ errors (see appendix A) .  E. The Student’s Preference Elicitation Questionnaire The students‟  Preference Elicitation Questionnaire was adapted from Michael (2007), to elicit the types of oral corrective feedback techniques that students preferred their teachers to use. Similarly like the Teachers‟ Preference Elicitation Instrument, Students ‟    preference elicitation questionnaire elicits the students‟ preferen ces through the use of a description of a teaching situation followed by several teacher responses.  F. Validity and Reliability of the Classroom Observation Checklist After the classroom observation checklist had been developed, it was given to a group of senior English Language teachers and ESL lecturers at Nizwa University jury panel to establish its validity. The jury members were asked to  judge whether the included items were clear and relevant to the topic under investigation or not. They were also requested to propose any modifications or changes to the instrument. Some of them suggested that the statements which represent the definitions of the types of oral corrective feedback should be shortened by omitting some unnecessary words (see appendix A). The instrument had a general internal consistency of 0.902 which is excellent according to Cronbach's alpha description. G. Validity and Reliability of the Ts’ P.E.Q. To determine the reliability of the questionnaire, it was piloted by (30) teachers from Muscat Governorate. The results showed that the teachers' preference elicitation questionnaire had an internal consistency of (0.891) which represented a good degree of consistency according to the description of Cronbach's alpha. Overall, the piloting results revealed that the instrument was clear, valid and relevant to the topic.  H. Validity and Reliability of the Ss’ P.E.Q. The reliability of the questionnaire was piloted by (105) male students. Of them, (50) were students from grades nine, (20) students were from grade ten, (20) students were from grade (11) and (15) were from grade (12). The results showed that the students‟ preference elicitation questionnaire had an internal consistency of (0.75) which represented an acceptable degree of consistency according to Cronbach's alpha. Usually a reliability coefficient of (0.70) and above is acceptable (Nunnally, 1978). As for the previous instruments, the piloting results revealed that this instrument was clear, valid and relevant to the topic.   IV.   R  ESULTS AND D ISCUSSION    A. Introduction  Now we discuss the results of data from the three instruments: the teacher‟s preferences elicitation instrument, the student‟s preferences elicitation instrument, and the classroom observation checkli st. The results are discussed in the same order according to the research hypotheses that: 1. Teachers of English at C2& PB levels of boys Educational System in Oman use different types of oral correction techniques. 2. There is a significant difference be tween these teachers‟ attitudes about oral corrective feedback and their actual  practice. 3. Students at C2 and PB of the Boys Educational System in Oman expect specific oral corrective feedback approaches from their teachers.  B. Oral Corrective Feedback Types Used by C2 and PB English Teachers To check the first hypothesis, which seek find the types of oral corrective feedback used by English teachers in C2 and PB schools, the means and standard deviations of the number of times the different types of oral corrective feedback used by the 15 teachers in each cycle were calculated. For the purpose of data analysis of mean values, we used the following norms: Mean values (4.5 or more) = (Highly used/ highest usage/ most frequently used/ the most used/ most commonly used) Mean values (3- 4.49) = (Moderately used/ of a moderate use) Mean values (2.99 or less) = (Low frequency of use/ of very low usage/ lowest use) 1772THEORY AND PRACTICE IN LANGUAGE STUDIES© 2013 ACADEMY PUBLISHER   First of all, Table (1) summarizes the grand mean number of times of usage and the standard deviations for all types of oral corrective feedback the 15 teachers in each cycle used to correct their students' spoken errors. T ABLE (1) D ESCRIPTIVE S TATISTICS (M EANS NUMBER OF TIMES &   S TANDARD D EVIATIONS )  FOR THE TWO C YCLES OF THE B ASIC E DUCATIONAL S YSTEM   Cycle Grand Mean Number of Times   Std. Deviation Cycle 2 38.64 2.135 Post Basic 34.74 2.789 Average 36.69 2.46 Table (1) shows that the least users of different types of oral corrective feedback among the two groups of teachers were the PB teachers with a mean number of (34.74) and standard deviation of (2.8). On the other hand, the table shows that C2 teachers use different types of corrective feedback with mean number of (38.64) and a standard deviation of (2.14). Finally, the table shows that the average use of different types of oral corrective feedback among the teachers of the two cycles was (36.7). Tables (2 and 3) present the mean number of times and standard deviations for different types of oral corrective feedback used by C2 and PB teac hers to correct their students‟ spoken errors. T ABLE (2) M EAN  N UMBER OF T IMES AND S TANDARD D EVIATION FOR THE T YPES OF O RAL C ORRECTIVE F EEDBACK U SED BY C2   T EACHERS TO C ORRECT T HEIR S TUDENTS ‟   S POKEN E RRORS   OCF Technique N Total Number of Times Each Type Used Means Std. Deviation Recast 15 134 8.93 2.086 Elicitation 15 77 5.13 1.995 Questioning (Peer Correction) 15 69 4.60 2.444 Repetition 15 56 3.73 1.870 Metalingustic Feedback 15 53 3.53 1.727 Clarification Request 15 50 3.33 1.718 Questioning (Self Correction) 15 47 3.13 2.295 Explicit Correction 15 47 3.13 1.407 Denial 15 35 2.33 1.718 Ignorance 15 12 .80 .414 Average - - 3.864 1.767 Table (2) shows that, Cycle 2 teachers used all types of oral corrective feedback with a grand mean of (3.86) and a standard deviation of (1.77). It also shows that recast, elicitation, and questioning (Peer-correction) were reported to be the most frequently used types of oral corrective feedback in C2. Recast had the highest usage as it had a mean of (8.93) and a standard deviation of (2.09). Elicitation and questioning (Peer-correction) can also be considered as types that were highly used as they had means of (5.13) & (4.60) and standard deviations of (2.00) & (2.44), respectively. Cycle 2 teachers might use these techniques more to increase the level of participation among students as well as to encourage cooperative learning without explicitly correcting their students' errors. However, there is a big gap between the use of recast and other types of oral corrective feedback types. This could clearly indicate the preference of one type over other types. Table (2) also shows that repetition, metalingustic feedback, clarification request, questioning (self-correction) and explicit correction were the five moderately used types of oral corrective feedback by C2 teachers as they had means  between 3 and 4.49 and standard deviations of (1.870), (1.727), (1.718), 2.295) & (1.407) respectively. The use of these types might indicate that C2 teachers started to feel that their students were more capable at this stage to cope with such techniques which need a certain level of language proficiency. These findings are inconsistent with previous research. In their studies, Lyster & Ranta (1997), Panova & Lyster (2002), and Sheen (2004) all found that metalinguistic feedback, repetition, and clarification request were not often used by teachers. Finally, Table (2) reveals that Denial and ignorance were of a very low usage as they had a mean of (2.33) & (.80) and a standard deviation of (1.72) & (.41) respectively. This is in line with the studies of Lyster & Ranta (1997) and Panova and Lyster (2002). These researchers found that denial and ignorance were rarely used by teachers. This might indicate that teachers were trying to use other forms of oral corrective feedback to create a form of interaction in the classroom. THEORY AND PRACTICE IN LANGUAGE STUDIES1773© 2013 ACADEMY PUBLISHER   T ABLE (3) M EAN NUMBER OF TIMES AND STANDARD DEVIATIONS OF THE TYPES OF ORAL CORRECTIVE FEEDBACK USED BY PB TEACHERS TO CORRECT THEIR STUDENTS ‟  SPOKEN ERRORS   OCF Technique Type N Total Number of Times Each Type Used Means Std. Deviation   Recast 15 153 10.20 2.145   Elicitation 15 85 5.67 1.952   Questioning (Peer Correction) 15 69 4.60 1.502   Denial 15 49 3.27 .884   Clarification Request 15 43 2.87 .834   Questioning (Self Correction) 15 33 2.20 .862   Repetition 15 27 1.80 .676   Metalingustic Feedback 15 26 1.73 .704   Ignorance 15 25 1.67 .617   Explicit Correction 15 11 .73 .458   Average - - 3.474 1.0634 As Table (3) reveals, PB teachers used all types of oral corrective feedback with a grand mean of (3.50) and a standard deviation of (1.06). Recast, elicitation and questioning (Peer-correction) were reported to be the most used types of oral corrective feedback in PB. As in C2, Recast had the highest usage as it had a mean of (10.20) and a standard deviation of (2.16). Again, we can notice the big gap between the use of recast and other techniques. The highest usage of recast by PB teachers might be attributed to their desire to save time and at the same time encourage slow learners to continue speaking without explicitly correcting their errors. This finding is similar to the study of Lyster and Ranta (1997) who found that the teachers in their study provided corrective feedback using recasts over half of the time (55%). The findings of Pica and Long (1986) also support this finding as they reported that recasts were used over other types of oral corrective feedback. Elicitation and questioning (Peer-correction) were highly used as they had means of (5.67) & (4.60) and standard deviations of (1.952) & (1.502), respectively. This could be attributed to PB teachers' desire to increase students'  participation by using elicitation and questioning (peer-correction). The table showed that denial is used moderately by PB teachers. This could be attributed to the teachers‟ desire to give more chances for their students to negotiate meaning  by using the previous two types. Table (3) also shows that clarification request, questioning (self-correction), repetition, metalinguistic feedback, ignorance and explicit correction were the six least used types of oral corrective feedback as they had means of (2.87), (2.20), (1.80) (1.73), (1.67)& (.73) and standard deviations of (0.83), (0.86), (0.68), (0.70), (0.62)& (.46), respectively. As the table shows, explicit correction has the lowest usage in this category. The low usage of explicit correction could  be attributed to PB teachers' desire not to spoon-feed their students, especially at this stage of learning where teachers are supposed to encourage their students to be more independent learners. Overall, Tables (2) and (3) give indications that English teachers in C2 and PB levels use all types of oral corrective feedback in varying degrees. Many previous studies support this finding. Studies like those of Pica and Long (1986) and Lyster and Ranta (1997), all reported the use of recasts, clarification request, metalinguistic feedback, elicitation, repetition and explicit correction to some degree. The tables also show that there were least cases in C2 where the students committed errors and their teachers did not  provide them with any type of oral corrective feedback compared to (PB). While there were least cases in PB where the students committed errors and their teachers did not provide them with any explicit correction. In addition to that, Tables (2) and (3) also indicate that all teachers in the two cycles of the Basic Education moderately used repetition and reported to have a very low usage of explicit correction, denial and ignorance with varying degrees. The teachers who participated in this study provided the researcher with some comments about this result. One teacher said: “Not all teachers believe that repetition is the best way for oral correction, they kee  p adjusting their techniques according to the effect they see on their students‟ performance.” Surprisingly, one teacher disagreed with him as he stated that: “Repetition is a good technique because it helps students notice their errors not like explicit c orrection which gives them the correct version on a plate.” On the other hand, Tables (2) and (3) also show that C2 and PB teachers may use oral corrective feedback for a number of reasons such as being less sensitive about students' feelings because they are dealing more with grown-ups. Another reason could be having students who have reached a level of language proficiency that allows them to be more independent in self-correction even with little hints. In addition, denial was reported to be of the moderate use type of oral corrective feedback in PB, whereas it was reported to be of a very low use in C2. The teachers who participated in this study provided the researcher with the following interesting comments about this result. One teacher said: “May  be in the stage of PB, teachers believe that students have the readiness to discover or search their own errors and that denial will stimulate students to find answers which results in good knowledge obtained by such strategy.” Another teacher said: “Stud ents in PB have more awareness and can accept this form of error- correction.” 1774THEORY AND PRACTICE IN LANGUAGE STUDIES© 2013 ACADEMY PUBLISHER 
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