Dr. Rod Ellis

04ADr. Rod Ellis
Curtin University (Perth, Australia)

Oral Corrective Feedback in SLA: Taking a Holistic Perspective

Corrective feedback (CF) is a highly complex phenomenon. In this talk I will argue that researching corrective feedback requires acknowledgement of this complexity by taking account of the following:

  1. The general strategies that figure in CF typologies are not monolithic. Research is needed to examine how strategies such as recasts or metalinguistic clues are realised differently in different instructional contexts and with different learners.
  2. CF can immediate or can be delayed; researchers have largely focused on immediate CF but there is a need to also investigate delayed CF.
  3. The effectiveness of CF is dependent on conditions relating to how the feedback is carried out – with and without gestures, intensively or extensively, in a single or in multiple moves – and also whether it is available to just the receiver of the feedback or to non-receivers as well.
  4. The effectiveness may also depend on whether the feedback is graduated as proposed by researchers drawing on sociocultural theory or of the briefer, one-shot kind prominent in research based on cognitive-interactionist theories.
  5. The effectiveness of CF varies according to the grammatical structure that is the target of the feedback.
  6. The effectiveness of CF is mediated by various learner internal factors – their beliefs about learning and CF, their proficiency level, working memory capacity, language analytical ability, language anxiety and many other factors that differentiate the psychology of learners.

I will conclude by suggesting that to achieve a better understanding of the complex nature of CF and its effect on L2 acquisition, the time may have come to step back from the endless experimental studies that characterize current enquiry and turn again to descriptive and interpretative research that can shed light on CF as a holistic cognitive, social and affective phenomenon and on learners’ engagement with it.


Rod Ellis is currently a Research Professor in the School of Education, Curtin University in Perth Australia. He is also a professor at Anaheim University, a visiting professor at Shanghai International Studies University as part of China’s Chang Jiang Scholars Program and an Emeritus Professor of the University of Auckland. He has recently been elected as a fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand. His published work includes articles and books on second language acquisition, language teaching and teacher education. His latest book (2016) is Becoming and Being an Applied Linguist (John Benjamins). Other recent publications include are Language Teaching Research and Language Pedagogy in 2012, (Wiley-Blackwell), (with Natsuko Shintani) Exploring Language Pedagogy and Second Language Acquisition Research in 2014 (Routledge) and Understanding Second Language Acquisition 2nd Edition in 2015 (Oxford University Press). He has also published several English language textbooks, including Impact Grammar (Pearson: Longman). He has held university positions in six different countries and has also conducted numerous consultancies and seminars throughout the world.