The Effects of Gradual and Indirect Feedback on EFL Learners' Grammar Development and Beliefs

Document Type: Research Paper


1 University of Mazandaran

2 Khazar Institute of Higher Education



Corrective feedback has received significant attention in English language teaching, and its role has been highly substantial. Considering the importance of corrective feedback in EFL classes, this study aimed at finding the effects of indirect and gradual CF on Iranian EFL learners' grammatical development and their beliefs toward CF. Twenty EFL learners, meeting the criterion of being lower-intermediate in their proficiency, participated in this study and were divided randomly into two groups of indirect and gradual CF. An Oxford Placement Test, Aljaafreh and Lantolf's (1994) regulatory scale, error correction test, writing tasks, and Corrective Feedback Belief Scale were used as data collection instruments. The indirect group received indirect CF based on cognitive theory and the gradual group received feedback based on Aljaafreh and Lantolf's (1994) regulatory scale for four sessions. The findings obtained from Mann-Whitney U tests revealed that the gradual group which received CF based on sociocultural theory was better able to overcome the problems related to simple present and present progressive tenses than the indirect group which received indirect CF based on cognitive theory. The findings also indicated that all learners, both gradual and indirect, preferred receiving CF and both groups always preferred to be corrected and likewise, both groups considered the teacher as the main provider of CF. The results of this study suggest that gradual feedback based on learners’ ZPD was more effective in improving EFL learners’ grammar development. In conclusion, these findings support the idea that social interaction is a prerequisite for cognitive development.


Alavi, S., & Keivanpanah, S.  (2007). Feedback expectancy and EFL learners’ achievement in English. Journal of Theory and Practice in Education, 3, 181-196.

Aljaafreh, A., & Lantolf, J. (1994). Negative feedback as regulation and second language learning in the zone of proximal development. The Modern Language Journal, 78, 465-483.

Anton, M. (1999). A learner-centered classroom: Sociocultural perspectives on teacher-learner interaction in the second language classroom. The Modern Language Journal, 83, 303-318.

Brown, A. (2009). Students’ and teachers’ perceptions of effective foreign language teaching: A comparison of ideals. Modern Language Journal, 93, 46–60.

Carroll, S.E. (2001). Input and Evidence. The raw material of second language acquisition.            Philadelphia: John Benjamin's Publishing Company.

Çepni, s. (2016). A Replication Study: Oral Corrective Feedback on L2 Writing; Two Approaches Compared. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 232 (2016) 520 – 528.

Diab, R. (2005). EFL university students’ preferences for error correction. Journal of Second Language Writing, 44, 53-55.

Donato, R. (1994). Collective scaffolding in second language learning. In J.P. Lantolf & G. Appel (Eds.), Vygotskian approaches to second language research (pp. 33–56). Ablex, Norwood: NJ.

Ellis, R. (2008). The Study of Second Language Acquisition. (2nd ed.).  Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Ellis, R. (2009). A typology of written corrective feedback types. ELT Journal, 63, 97-107.

Ellis, R. (2009). Corrective feedback and teacher development. L2 Journal, 1, 3–18.

Erlam, R., Ellis, R., & Batstone, R. (2013). Oral corrective feedback on L2 writing: Two approaches compared. System, 41 (2), 257-268.

Ferris, D. (1999). The case for grammar correction in L2 writing classes: A response to Truscott (1996). Journal of Second Language Writing, 8(1), 1-10.

Ferris, D. R. (2004). The “grammar correction” debate in L2 writing: Where are we, and where do we go from here? Journal of Second Language Writing, 13(1), 49–62.

Ferris, D. R., & Roberts, B. (2001). Error feedback in L2 writing classes: How explicit does it need to be?  Journal of Second Language Writing, 10, 161-184.

Fukuda, Y. (2004). Treatment of spoken errors in Japanese high school oral communication classes. Master’s thesis, California State University, San Francisco.

Grami, M. (2005). The effect of teachers’ written feedback on ESL students’ perception: a study in a Saudi ESL university-level context. Annual Review of Education, Communication and Language Sciences, 2.

Greenslade, T., & Félix-Brasdefer, J. C. (2006). Error correction and learner perceptions in L2 Spanish writing. In C. A. Klee & T. L. Face (Eds.), 7th conference on the acquisition of Spanish and Portuguese as first and second languages (pp. 185-194). Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Proceedings Project.

Havranek, G. (2002). When is corrective feedback most likely to succeed? International Journal of Educational Research, 37, 255-270.

Hedgcock, J., & Lefkowitz, N. (1994). Feedback on feedback: assessing learner receptivity to teacher response in L2 composing.  Journal of second language writing. 3 (2), 141-163.

Hyland, F. (2003). Focusing on form: student engagement with teacher feedback. System, 31, 217-230.

Jamalinesari, A., Rahimi, F., Gowharyb, H., & Azizifar, A. (2015). The effects of teacher-written direct vs. indirect feedback on students’ writing. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 192 (2015) 116 – 123.

Karim, K., & Nassaji, H. (2018). The revision and transfer effects of direct and indirect comprehensive corrective feedback on ESL students’ writing. Language Teaching Research, 1-21.

Katayama, A. (2007). Japanese EFL students’ preferences toward correction of classroom oral errors. Asian EFL Journal, 9, 289-305.

Keshavarz, M. H. (2015). Contrastive analysis, error analysis and interlanguage (Revised ed.). Tehran: Rahnama Press.

Krashen, S. D. (1982). Principles and Practice in Second Language Acquisition. Oxford: Pergamon.

Lantolf, J.P. ( 2000). Second language learning as a mediated process. Language Teaching, 33, 79-96.

Lavasani, M. (2010). Error correction in socio-cultural perspective: Feedback and noticing in ZPD. JELS, 1(4),63-84.

Lee, I. (1997). ESL learners' performance in error correction in writing: Some implications for college-levell teaching. System, 25, 465- 477.

Lee, I. (2004). Error correction in L2 secondary writing classrooms: The case of Hong Kong. Journal of Second Language Writing, 13, 285-312.

Lim, L. K. (1990). Students’ Attitudes Toward Errors and Error Correction in Language Learning. An academic exercise submitted for the award of the degree of B.A., National University of Singapore.

Lyster, R., & Ranta, L. (1997). Corrective feedback and learner uptake: Negotiation of form in communicative classrooms. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 1 9, 37-66.

McGuffin, M. E., Martz, S. A., & Heron, T. E. (1997). The effects of self-correction versus traditional spelling on the spelling performance and maintenance of third-grade students. Journal of Behavioral Education, 7(4), 463-476.

Nassaji, H. (2011). Correcting students’ written grammatical errors: The effects of negotiated versus non-negotiated feedback. Studies in Second Language Learning and Teaching, 1 (3), 315-334.

Nassaji, H., & Swain, M. (2000). A Vygotskian perspective on corrective feedback: The effect of random versus negotiated help on the learning of English articles. Language Awareness, 9, 34-51.

Rahimi, M. (2009). The role of teacher’s corrective feedback in improving EFL learners’ writing accuracy: The case of Iran as an EFL poor-input context. Reading and Writing, 22(2), 219-243.

Rahimi, M. (2010). Iranian EFL students’ perceptions and preferences for teachers’ written feedback: Do students’ ideas reflect teachers’ practice? The Journal of Teaching Language Skills (JTLS),2(2010)75-98.

Rami, F. Mustafa. (2012). Feedback on the Feedback: Sociocultural Interpretation of Saudi ESL Learners’ Opinions about Writing Feedback. English Language Teaching, 5(3), 3-15.

Ranjbar, S., & Zamanian, M. (2014). The relationship between Iranian EFL learners’ and instructors’ personality type and error correction preferences. Journal of Studies in Learning and Teaching English, 2(5), 79-97.

Roothooft, H., & Breeze, R. (2016). A comparison of EFL teachers’ and students’ attitudes to oral corrective feedback.Language Awareness, 25 (4), 318-335.

Schulz, R. A. (1996). Focus on form in the foreign language classroom: Students' and teachers' views on error correction and the role of grammar. Foreign Language Annals, 29(3), 343-364.

Schulz, R. A. (2001). Cultural differences in student and teacher perceptions concerning the role of grammar instruction and corrective feedback: USA-Columbia. Modern Language Journal, 85, 244-258.

Sheen, Y. (2007). The effect of focused written corrective feedback and language aptitude on ESL learners’ acquisition of articles. TESOL Quarterly, 41(2), 255-283.

Shintani, N., Ellis, R., & Suzuki, W. (2013). Effects of written feedback and revision on learners’ accuracy in using two English grammatical structures. Language Learning, 64(1),103-131.

Shirazi, M. & Shekarabi, Z. (2014). The role of written corrective feedback in enhancing the linguistic accuracy of Iranian Japanese learners' writing. Iranian Journal of Language Teaching Research, 2(1), 99-118.

Truscott, J. (1996). The case against grammar correction in L2 writing classes. Language Learning, 46, 327–369.

Vygotsky, L.S. (1986). Thought and language. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Zacharias, N. (2007). Teacher and student attitudes toward teacher feedback. SAGE Publications, 38(1), 38-52.

Zhang, L. J., & Rahimi, M. (2014). EFL learner’s anxiety level and their beliefs about corrective feedback in oral communication classes. System, 42(1), 429–4.