AN INVESTIGATION OF ERROR CORRECTION IN THE ZONE OF PROXIMAL DEVELOPMENT: ORAL INTERACTION WITH BEGINNING LEARNERS OF CHINESE AS A FOREIGN LANGUAGE
While most researchers acknowledge that error correction (EC) is most effective in meaningful contexts, few studies have addressed collaborative EC or longitudinal language development during oral conversations especially conversations where new knowledge is continually integrated. By observing how the tutor helped two college-age beginning students of Chinese learn three inter-related and chronologically-offset target grammatical structures (TG) during nine weeks of hourly one-on-one tutorial sessions, the study investigated: (a) the types of assistance the tutor provided in spoken conversation; (b) changes in this assistance within and across sessions; and (c) how errors towards TG were eliminated. Analysis of protocols (transcripts marked up with visual cues), learners' questionnaires, and graphs revealed that: (a) the tutor provided two types of contingent assistance: regulation in participation (RinP), and EC on emergent errors; (b) EC was effective and its explicitness depended only on the learner's Zone of Proximal Development same finding for RinP; (c) during the goals-oriented activity, language, serving both social (active and accurate meaning-exchange) and cognitive (tutor's EC and RinP, and learners' meta-comments) functions, was responsible for learners' transformation from other-regulation to self-regulation language serving a cognitive function on an inter-personal level gradually became intra-personal; (d) RinP was instrumental in transferring not only the responsibility for participation (elaboration, initiation, and elicitation of TG) but also, through EC consequent to elicitation of TG, the responsibility for grammar-accuracy; and, (e) TG lacking an English counterpart required not only learners' cognitive understanding of the TG form but also where (which contexts) to use it here, RinP efficiently co-constructed contexts for elicitation of TG and its differentiation, through EC. In line with Vygostkian principles, the tutor's collaborative RinP improved learners' participation while the collaborative EC improved the learners' grammar accuracy within that improving participation. Implications include: (a) grammar accuracy is not an end-product but depended on not only task-difficulty and subject-matter but also degree to which similar TG were differentiated; and, (b) all errors, salient and not, must be corrected from the beginning ignoring errors deemed unimportant was myopic.
Advisor:Dr. Jianhua Bai; Dr. Amanda Godley; Dr. Richard Donato; Dr. Dan Dewey
School:University of Pittsburgh
School Location:USA - Pennsylvania
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Keywords:instruction and learning
Date of Publication:04/17/2006