Bart Penning de Vries, Catia Cucchiarini, Stephen Bodnar, Helmer Strik, Roeland van Hout
November 11, 2016
This paper presents a detailed study on the role of corrective feedback (CF) in the development of second language (L2) oral proficiency. Learners practiced speaking with a computer-assisted language learning (CALL) system that employs automatic speech recognition (ASR) technology to provide CF. The system tracks learner behaviour by logging the system-user interactions. Two language learning conditions are compared. In the CF condition learners received immediate, automatic CF on the grammaticality of their spoken output. In theOCF condition, learners practiced speaking with the option to self-correct. The target structure under investigation is Dutch verb second (V2) in the main clause. The results show that learner proficiency improved in both conditions. The CF condition shows an additional benefit for learning that is related to the learner’s initial knowledge of the target structure (which we call V2 proficiency). Learners at a lower V2 proficiency level benefitted more from practice with CF than learners in the NOCF condition. Learner evaluations are in line with these results: both the CF and the NOCF groups positively evaluated practice with the system, but the CF condition was preferred by learners starting at a lower V2 proficiency level. For more information on these outcome measures, we investigated the learners’ behaviour during practice. The two groups were found to receive equal amounts of input, but learners in the CF condition produced more (grammatically correct) output during treatment. We found that the CF group repaired their errors in fewer attempts as they progressed through practice. Learners in the NOCF condition generally did not (attempt to) repair their errors. However, the learners answered correctly more often as they progressed in the training. The log data, therefore, shows learning of the target structure in both conditions. We discuss these results and how learning outcome is related to learner behaviour.