To mark or not to mark, that is the question: developing English teachers’ readiness to implement focused written corrective feedback

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Abstract

'Composition slaves' -- this is how some L2 writing scholars label Hong Kong English teachers (Hairston, 1986; Lee, 2009). It is my own experience and observation too that English teachers in Asia (particularly in Hong Kong) are mostly identified by their ‘vigilant’ attention to marking all errors in students’ compositions in a bid to meet the expectations of the school and parents. Research has shown that even though English teachers themselves may not believe in the practice of comprehensive written corrective feedback (WCF), it is almost mandatory for them to mark all errors that they can detect. (Lee, 2010). Notwithstanding the frustration that this feedback practice causes both students and teachers, comprehensive WCF is still regarded as the Midas touch in helping students to perform with flying colors in examinations. And it is not uncommon to see teachers being labeled as more ‘professional’ and ‘diligent’ when they mark lots of errors. In this article I argue that a focused approach to WCF is preferable to comprehensive WCF. Focused WCF is defined as a feedback practice in which teachers select one or more language features such as spelling, verb tenses, prepositions, and collocations to mark; as opposed to marking errors indiscriminately in comprehensive WCF practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10-12
Number of pages3
JournalThe Teacher Trainer Journal
Volume31
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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