How Useful are Recasts?: Factors Influencing Their Success and Problems in Testing

Kate Burrill


As the popular focus of instruction in language classrooms becomes increasingly meaning-oriented, teachers must nevertheless ensure that their students are also learning the correct form of the language they are studying. One of the ways to achieve this task is to provide negative feedback—correcting the student, either implicitly or explicitly. The most common type of negative feedback used in the classroom is recasting (Sheen, 2006; Panova & Lyster, 2002; Loewen & Philp, 2006). Recasting is defined as the reformulation of a non-native speaker’s incorrect utterance by a native speaker in order to correct it (Gass & Selinker, 2008). Recasts are a common type of feedback for many possible reasons; one of the main reasons may be that they allow the teacher to maintain a focus on meaning while still giving the non-native speaker implicit correction on form (Han, 2002). The prevalence of recasts in the classroom has led to many studies on the topic, but results from the research have generally not provided strong evidence of its effectiveness.

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