Content-based instruction in the context of Chinese immersion: An exploration of corrective feedback

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Yao, Qin
MacSwan, Jeff
Immersion education encourages students to learn a new language by actually using the language, and has become a popular form of foreign language instruction since the 1970s. Recent observations of immersion classrooms have shown a high frequency of teachers’ oral corrective feedback (CF). From an interactionist perspective of second language (L2) acquisition that finds a solid foundation for the benefit of conversational interaction in L2 learning, CF as a form of interaction is argued to give L2 learners learning opportunities that attend to the communicative content and linguistic information. This study aims to fill a gap in the literature on immersion—the lack of studies examining CF in Chinese immersion settings, by studying learning opportunities brought about by oral CF in Chinese immersion classrooms. Classroom observations, video-tapings, stimulated recalls, and interviews in four Chinese immersion classrooms revealed that the Chinese immersion teachers explicitly or implicitly corrected students’ errors most of the time, and used eight types of CF strategies to treat their errors, among which the elicitation and recast were used more frequently. In addition, teachers and students were found to engage in negotiations through CF in different interactional contexts (content, language, communication and management), and contexts focusing on content and language allowed more CF and more modified output. Furthermore, the results revealed that students tended to notice the CF in content-focused interactions (compared to other three types of interactional contexts), and that their perception accuracy is influenced by the type of CF and the recipient of the CF. Based on the interaction approach to second language acquisition, the findings of this study contribute to the field by constructing a deeper understanding of intricacies of CF in the context of Chinese immersion teaching. In particular, the study has emphasized the positive role of interactional feedback in second language learning, re-conceptualized output immediately following the CF as learner response to feedback, and revealed the facilitative role of modified output in advancing the engagement of the learner internal mechanism. Moreover, the study has implications for immersion education, specifically concerning CF strategies, pedagogies that balance content and language instruction, immersion program administration, and teacher education.