In this chapter we analyze the role that error correction plays in fostering language development via e-mail tandem exchanges. In order to do so, we present the findings of a year-long e-mail exchange between specialist learners of English at Nebrija University in Madrid and non-specialist learners of Spanish at Trinity College Dublin during the academic year 2005-2006. Using the results of qualitative research, we present data from the students’ e-mail content regarding different aspects of error correction, such as type of corrections, conventions and use of metalanguage. The findings of this study suggest that corrective feedback, especially when it takes the form of remediation, can lead to language development in on-line exchanges since it encourages recycling of errors in later e-mail messages.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Autonomy in Language Learning: A capacity to take charge of, or take responsibility for one’s own learning. Therefore, autonomy involves abilities and attitudes that people possess and can develop to various degrees.
Synchronous Communication: Communication occurs when learners communicate in real time, either in a face-to-face situation, on the telephone or using the Internet. MOOs, IRC (Internet relay chat), chatting, audio and videoconferencing are all forms of synchronous communication.
Tandem Learning: A mode of learning in which you work together with a partner from another country in order to learn each other’s native language. It is based on the principles of autonomy and reciprocity and it can take place either face-to-face or at a distance (either in synchronous or asynchronous forms of communication).
Asynchronous Communication: Learners do not communicate in real time. Rather, they send messages to each other and collect messages when it is convenient to them. E-mail, letter writing, and voicemail are all forms of asynchronous communication.
Positive Feedback: Tells the learner what linguistic features in the input are possible in the target language
Negative (Corrective) Feedback: Tells the learner what linguistic features in the input are not possible in the target language.
Collaborative Learning: A way of learning in which students at various performance levels work together in small groups toward a common goal. Tandem learning is a type of collaborative learning.
Reciprocity: Refers to the partners’ mutual support in the learning process; both partners should contribute equally to their work together and benefit to the same extent.