The Effect of Explicit and Implicit Corrective Feedback on the Use of Collocations in Speaking Assignments by Iranian EFL learners

Abstract
Collocations are one of the areas generally considered problematic for EFL learners. Iranian learners of English like other EFL learners face various problems in producing oral collocations. The goal of this study was to analyze the difference between the effects of two types of feedback including explicit and implicit on learners’ accuracy with regard to the application of the collocations in their speaking tasks. This study intended to describe the Effect of explicit and implicit corrective feedback on the use of collocations in speaking assignments by Iranian EFL learners. As a result, Applying elicitation explicit corrective feedback on speaking errors regarding usage of collocations by the teachers may help students get better results in learning collocations and consequently in their speaking fluency.

1. Introduction
Collocations as an indispensible part of speaking play an important role in every day conversations. Moreover, they are considered as indicators of proficiency for language learners and have been always emphasized in speaking module assessment of international examinations such as IELTS. As collocations vary from one language and culture to the other, this area of language can be problematic for language learners because negative transfer may happen a lot. Consequently, the teacher should be cautious about these errors and try to correct them in an effective way (Larson, 1984).
Compared to L1 users, who acquired their phrases or chunk language and developed the competence to reconstruct the language with phrases from exposure to the environment, L2 intermediate and upper- intermediate learners seemed to have the same ability to resort to the same strategies as L1 learners to learn chunk language (Schmitt, 2000). Consequently, it is possible for L2 learners to reach native-speaker like competence if the learners are capable of using the idioms fluently (Ellis 1997). Many applied linguists (e.g., Zahedi & Mirzadeh, 2010) have emphasized the importance of drawing intermediate second language learners’ attention to standard multiword expressions such as collocations and idioms.
An increased knowledge of collocation not only allows learners to improve levels of accuracy, but also it aids fluency (Webb &Kagimoto 2011). Collocations improve the learner’s ability in oral communication, listening, and reading skills. From the perspective of pedagogy, collocations help learners to be aware of language chunks used by native speakers in writing and speaking (Namvar, 2013).The majority of Iranian EFL learners have knowledge of English grammar and vocabulary to some extent; however, they seem to have serious problems with the use of collocations. For instance; ‘make a mistake’ is an acceptable collocation in the English language. Iranian learners, who speak Persian say ‘EshtebahKardan’, which literally means ‘do a mistake’. However, when they say it in English, they think in their first language and instead of ‘make a mistake’ they write or say ‘do a mistake.’ Literally, Iranians say “Do a mistake” while English speakers say “Make a mistake”.
Language is a charming area of knowledge which leads many researchers to live their lives investigating different areas of it. When it gets to consider second/foreign language learning, researchers take into account the whole body of language knowledge. One of the main areas of research in first language and second language researches, which have recently attracted a lot of attention, is the significance of error treatment/correction and its subsequent effects on language learning (Ellis, 2003).
Learners’ errors have been an indispensible part of language learning, and the way language teachers deal with them has changed by the advent of new ideas in the realm of language learning. The role of corrective feedback in learners’ interlanguage development has been a focus of much discussion in Second Language Acquisition (SLA) research over past two decades. Giving oral or written assessment feedback has always been an important part of the teaching profession. Unlike in oral feedback sessions where tutor sand students can instantaneously clarify their intentions and perceptions, written feedback is more than one way (i.e. no immediate clarification of messages between the two parties is possible).Early reviews of error treatment go back to the 1970s, but the interest in corrective feedback increased considerably in the early 1990s as it was noticed that second language learners in communicative classrooms and immersion programs were able to gain almost native-like comprehension ability and relatively high fluency, but they still continued to have difficulties with second language accuracy (Lightbown & Spada, 1990).
The researcher has noticed that in comparison to the other language skills, the correct usage of collocations has been neglected by both students and teachers (Lightbown & Spada, 1990). It is observed that a considerable number of teachers are not familiar with appropriate techniques to help their students improve their speaking ability with regard to the proper employment of collocations. In addition, the majority of students, including those at higher levels of L2 learning fail to use accurate collocations, needed for acceptable and native like speaking ability. The nature of the procedures adopted by the teachers in speaking correction and giving feedback should be an issue of great concern to the researchers. According to Allwright (1995), Claudron(1977), and Long (1977), several problems such as inconsistency, ambiguity and ineffectiveness of teachers’ correction have been identified. They put the lack of the effectiveness of corrective feedback down to the ambiguous and unsystematic approaches adopted by the majority of teachers. Some EFL learners cannot express their thought because they are lacking the important collocations of a key word. As a result, they speak awkward and full of miscollocations partially due to the effect of their mother tongue, and lack of training in this regard. Most of these students know a large number of single item vocabularies, but they do not know how to combine them properly in speaking. Moreover, the significance of this study lies in its attempt to discover a new way of teacher’s response to learner’s speaking, which can help to improve L2 learners’ accuracy. The findings might contribute to the improvement of the techniques of teaching collocations. There is no agreement among the supporters on which types of feedback are more effective. Therefore, a deep study into less investigated forms of oral feedback can bring results of a great practical value. Consequently, some factors can be mentioned with regard to the significance of the current study. First, collocations as determining factors, which show the level of mastery of learners in speaking ability, have been always crucial to learners and teachers. Second, the studies that have considered cognitive differences as mediating factors in the notice ability of feedback are few in number (Lyster, 2003; Spada, 2006).However, the evidence they provide is intriguing. Thus, more studies on the subject are needed to probe the complex relationship between learning and individual differences.
One of the most important goals of learning a second/foreign language is developing the ability to speak. Chastain (1998) gives the highest importance to speaking competency among the four main competencies in a foreign language to be mastered. As he claims, a good level of proficiency in speaking can guarantee the growth in other level of proficiency such as reading, writing, and listening. He maintains that speaking can play two main roles; enhancing the retaining and activating the current proficiency level of EFL learners. Regrettably, due to lack of knowledge of some teachers in using the correct feedback, some learners lose their self-confidence in speaking or even learning a language. Consequently, paying much attention to the type of error made by learners and choosing the correct feedback is essential in a language classroom.
The present study aims at investigating the role of implicit and explicit corrective feedback on the application of collocations by Iranian intermediate EFL learners. It mainly concerns on the errors committed by the learners doing the tasks related to them and the implicit and explicit form of corrective feedback given to them by language teachers as well as learners’ uptake of this kind of feedback.
2. Background
Communication involves two basic types of active cognitive process: 1) to produce a message: it means to convert thoughts to language, 2) to receive a message: it means to convert language to thoughts. Therefore, communication implies a minimum of two people, one to create a message and one to recreate that message; one is speaker and the other is listener (Chastain, 1988). Speaking is at the heart of second language learning but despite its importance in different fields it has largely been ignored in teaching and testing for a number of reasons. At schools, the focus of teaching is on grammar and reading comprehension and less attention is on speaking skill because of the difficulty in evaluating it. Today, the goal of speaking in the world is communication, so improving students’ communicative skills is an important factor in teaching. The students should learn to express themselves in a way that is socially and culturally appropriate in each communicative circumstance. It, therefore, seems essential to identify the problems that EFL learners have in dealing with speaking skill.
Fluency in speaking is a crucial factor. As Skehan (1998) defines “fluency is the ability to speak or read quickly, accurately, and without undue hesitation, then automatic execution of certain aspects of L2 performance such as pronunciation, grammatical processing, and word recognition would, by definition, promote fluency. As de Jong et al. (2011) state “Lennon (1990) distinguishes a broad definition and a narrow definition. In the broad definition, fluency can be seen as overall (speaking) proficiency, whereas fluency in the narrow definition pertains to smoothness and ease of oral linguistic delivery. Brumfit (1984) assumed that fluency was ‘the maximally effective operation of the language system so far acquired by the student.” In addition, Nunan (1999) states when a speaker speaks unexpectedly, he should continue without hesitation. Speaking fluently does not mean that a speaker should speak so fast. Sometimes pausing is also an important aspect of fluency which may be long but not numerous. Besides, when speakers speak fluently, they should be able to acquire the message without regarding any grammatical and other mistakes.
One of the problematic areas for EFL learners is learning collocations. Iranian learners like the other learners face various problems in producing oral collocations, therefore, the necessity to spend more time and energy by learners on mastering collocations is obvious. Using collocations is probably the most important part of turning passive words into active ones; therefore, a central component in the acquisition of a creative language system is collocation (Durrant, 2008). According to Ramirez (2012, p. 242), “collocation is the way in which words associate with one another and can be defined as word clusters, which are regularly used in spoken and written English.” Henriksen (n.d. p. 30) defines collocations as “frequently recurring two-to-three word syntagmatic units which can include both lexical and grammatical words, e.g. verb + noun (pay tribute), adjective + noun (hot spice), preposition + noun (on guard) and adjective + preposition (immune to).” McCarthy (1990) believed that collocational knowledge is a part of native speakers’ linguistic competence, and can make problems for learners who are using second language in communication. According to Jinsuk (2001, p. 208), “it makes sense to regard collocations as items frequently occurring together and with some degrees of semantic unpredictability.” This justifies the idea that it is important to spend time on collocations to improve fluency. Pawly and Syder (1983) argue that collocational knowledge, as the essence of language knowledge, is indispensable for language learners to produce fluent and appropriate language. As Bergstrom (2008, p. 5) states “an important aspect of being fluent in a language is the use of collocations, which are conventionalized word combinations that are often used together in a language.” Shokouhi and mirsalari (2010) define two groups of collocations:
Grammatical collocations consist of a noun, an adjective, or a verb plus a preposition or a grammatical structure such as an infinitive or a clause. (e.g. by accident)
Lexical collocations consist of various combinations of nouns, adjectives, verbs and adverbs. (e.g. storms rage)
Although the collocations are important for L2 learners, researchers have indicated that collocations are an inherent problem for them and using collocations is one of the difficult aspects of vocabulary learning for learners of a foreign or second language including advanced learners and professional translators (Taiwo, 2004; H”ttner, 2005; Walsh, 2005; Millar, 2005; Marty”ska, 2004; Wray, 2000; Bahns, 1993). Dechert and Lennon (1989) studied the acquisition of collocations by advanced learners and found that the subjects who had studied English for at least ten years with extensive contact with native speakers could not produce the language that conformed to native speaker criteria. Furthermore, their production caused misunderstanding and interrupted comprehension. Dechert and Lennon (1989) maintain that the errors made by the subjects are not grammatical, but lexical ones. They concluded that learning collocation is neglected and it needs more attention.
Hill (1999, p. 4) states that lack of collocational knowledge can lead to EFL students’ difficulties in learning English collocations. It may also be suggested that one reason for the EFL students’ difficulties in learning English prepositions is that they usually attempt to learn the meaning and use of prepositions individually without paying sufficient attention to their collocational properties (Flowerdew, 1999). Delshad (1980) found that Iranian EFL/ESL students have difficulty in the use of English prepositions. According to Delshad, Iranian EFL students usually misuse or omit English prepositions. Similarly, Zarei (2002) found that Iranian EFL learners have problems with English collocations. He classified English collocational patterns into ten categories of which the collocations of prepositions are among the most problematic patterns, while ‘adjective+ adverbs’ and ‘fixed expressions’ rank among the least problematic collocational patterns for them. He further concluded that collocational competence is an essential part of achieving native-like competence in English. Sadeghi and Panahifar (2013) studied on the use of different types of collocations in oral productions of Iranian EFL learners with the aim of identifying, categorizing and accounting for the inappropriate collocations produced.
2.1 Introduction
Communication involves two basic types of active cognitive process: 1) to produce a message: it means to convert thoughts to language, 2) to receive a message: it means to convert language to thoughts. Therefore, communication implies a minimum of two people, one to create a message and one to recreate that message; one is speaker and the other is listener (Chastain, 1988). Speaking is at the heart of second language learning but despite its importance in different fields it has largely been ignored in teaching and testing for a number of reasons. At schools, the focus of teaching is on grammar and reading comprehension and less attention is on speaking skill because of the difficulty in evaluating it. Today, the goal of speaking in the world is communication, so improving students’ communicative skills is an important factor in teaching. The students should learn to express themselves in a way that is socially and culturally appropriate in each communicative circumstance. It, therefore, seems essential to identify the problems that EFL learners have in dealing with speaking skill.
Fluency in speaking is a crucial factor. As Skehan (1998) defines “fluency is the ability to speak or read quickly, accurately, and without undue hesitation, then automatic execution of certain aspects of L2 performance such as pronunciation, grammatical processing, and word recognition would, by definition, promote fluency(p.401). As de Jong et al. (2011) state “Lennon (1990) distinguishes a broad definition and a narrow definition. In the broad definition, fluency can be seen as overall (speaking) proficiency, whereas fluency in the narrow definition pertains to smoothness and ease of oral linguistic delivery. Brumfit (1984) assumed that fluency was ‘the maximally effective operation of the language system so far acquired by the student (p.42).” In addition, Nunan (1999) states when a speaker speaks unexpectedly, he should continue without hesitation. Speaking fluently does not mean that a speaker should speak so fast. Sometimes pausing is also an important aspect of fluency which may be long but not numerous. Besides, when speakers speak fluently, they should be able to acquire the message without regarding any grammatical and other mistakes.
Fillmore (1979) mentioned four things we might consider when identifying someone as a fluent speaker. First, a fluent speaker is someone who easily fills time with talk and is a fast talker. Second, a fluent speaker’s speech is coherent, complex and dense. Quality is more important than quantity. Third, a fluent speaker seems to know appropriate things in different contexts. He/ she has pragmatic and affective skills. Finally, as Fillmore mentions a fluent speaker considers aesthetic functions of language “including creativity and imagination, punning, joking, the creation of metaphors and so on” (p. 358).
Hill (1999, p. 4) states that lack of collocational knowledge can lead to EFL students’ difficulties in learning English collocations. It may also be suggested that one reason for the EFL students’ difficulties in learning English prepositions is that they usually attempt to learn the meaning and use of prepositions individually without paying sufficient attention to their collocational properties (Flowerdew, 1999). Delshad (1980) found that Iranian EFL/ESL students have difficulty in the use of English prepositions. According to Delshad, Iranian EFL students usually misuse or omit English prepositions. Similarly, Zarei (2002) found that Iranian EFL learners have problems with English collocations. He classified English collocational patterns into ten categories of which the collocations of prepositions are among the most problematic patterns, while ‘adjective+ adverbs’ and ‘fixed expressions’ rank among the least problematic collocational patterns for them. He further concluded that collocational competence is an essential part of achieving native-like competence in English. Sadeghi and Panahifar (2013) studied the use of different types of collocations in oral productions of Iranian EFL learners with the aim of identifying, categorizing, and accounting for the inappropriate collocations produced.
2.2Implicit and Explicit Corrective Feedback
As for implicit feedback, there is no overt indicator that an error has been made while in explicit feedback there is. Implicit feedback often takes the form of recasts. Explicit feedback can take several forms: it may draw attention to the source of problem indicated (for example, ‘Not goed’) , where just negative evidence is presented; it may present explicit correction (for example, ‘No, not goed- went.’), where the feedback obviously shows that what the learner has stated is erroneous and supplies the correct form, so presenting both positive and negative evidence; or it may recommend metalinguistic feedback (for example, ‘ You need past tense.’) ,defined by Lyster and Ranta (1997) as ‘ comments, information or questions related to the well-formedness of the learner’s utterance’ (ibid), which again just presents negative evidence .
On the other hand, Mackey (2007) declared that a number of studies have researched the effects of these two types of feedback on second language (L2) acquisition. These investigations show that both types of corrective feedback are influential in improving learning of the grammatical structures aimed when the feedback is emphasized and intensive. A number of the studies (e.g, Carroll & Swain, 1993; Nagata, 1993; Carroll, 2001; Rosa &Leow, 2004a) proved that explicit feedback was more influential than implicit feedback investigation of the influences of recasts and metalinguistic feedback on the learning of English past tense ‘- ed’ done by Ellis, Loewen and Erlam(2006). Ellis et al also found that the explicit type of feedback was more influential than the implicit type.
Nonetheless, some of other studies (e.g, , Kim &Mathes, 2001; Sanz, 2003) indicated no difference. Just one research (Leeman, 2003) reported that implicit corrective feedback was more influential than explicit feedback. However, in this case the explicit feedback took the form of ‘source of problem indicated’ as Leeman’s research, which was primarily related to investigating the relative influences of significant evidence and just negative evidence on acquisition (Alison Mackey, 2007).
Meanwhile, Mackey (2007) reported that it is difficult to come to an exact conclusion considering the relative effectiveness of implicit and explicit corrective feedback according to researches for a number of reasons. First, the two types of feedback were not operationalized in the same way in all the researches. Implicit feedback was implemented as recasts in most of the investigations, but recasts can differ enormously. The explicit feedback also differed if it simply showed an error had been occurred, presented a correction, or involved metalinguistic information or some combination of these strategies. In addition , according to Han’s (2002b) comment, the recasts are emphasized intensively on a single grammatical structure (Alison Mackey, 2007).
As Doughty (2003) remarks, a second reason why the results of previous investigations are difficult to interpret is the method of implementing and testing acquisition. Most of the researches did not include measures of implicit knowledge i.e. a general failing in form- focused instruction studies. And to complete this, the researchers found explicit corrective feedback to be the more influential (Mackey, 2007).
Finally, the previous researches differed in their selection of aimed grammatical structure. Some of the researchers investigated morphological features- for example, distinguishing nouns and verbs in Carroll (2001) and or French grammatical gender in Lyster (2004) – while other researchers examined syntactical features- for instance, dative alternation in Carroll and Swain (1993) or clitic pronoun position in Spanish in Sanz (2003). It is sensible to think that the influence of corrective feedback treatment will rely on the selection of the aimed structure (Mackey, 2007). Pienemann (1998), for instance, offers that the order in which grammatical structures are acquired as implicit knowledge include the processing implementations.
Many of the aimed structures studied up to now included intricate processing implementations that some of the students may not have been developmentally ready for. The structures also varied considerably in how easy they were to acquire explicit knowledge. For instance, Spanish noun- adjective agreement (Leeman, 2003) constitutes a rather easy rule to understand whereas dative alternation is much more difficult. In line with what was said, Mackey (2007) reports that, there is a clear need to regard carefully the choice of target structure, being aware of both the developmental stage of the students and the conceptual complexity of the structure selected.
In general, explicit instruction is more influential with simple rules. Nevertheless, this may just demonstrate the fact that the testing instruments only presented measures of explicit knowledge (Mackey, 2007). For intricate rules the picture is mixed. In three studies In two studies (Scott, 1989; de Graaff, 1997) the explicit instruction was more influential for acquiring complex structures.
2.3. Empirical Background
A well-known study on the relationship between corrective feedback and learner uptake is by Lyster and Ranta (1997), who studied second language learners in immersion classrooms in Canada. They examined six corrective feedback types in terms of their frequency and distribution, as well as their effects on learner uptake. Lyster and Ranta (1997) discovered that the teachers had a strong tendency (55% of all occurrences) to use recasts as the strategy for corrective feedback (Lyster&Ranta 1997, p.53), even though it was the least likely strategy to elicit student-generated repair (only 31% of all occurrences) (Lyster&Ranta 1997, p. 54). They concluded that of the six feedback types, elicitation, repetition, clarification requests and metalinguistic feedback were the more successful in evoking student generated feedback (Lyster&Ranta 1997, p.56). In Lyster and Ranta’s data, the teachers provided corrective feedback on 62% of the students’ erroneous utterances on average, and the researchers did conclude that more frequent corrections would probably be undesirable, but that teachers should more actively apply the different corrective techniques and not only recasts (Lyster&Ranta 1997, p.56).
The purpose of Schultz’s (1996) exploratory study was to compare students’ and teachers’ beliefs about explicit grammar teaching, particularly in connection to error correction. The subjects were second and foreign language students and teachers in both commonly taught (CTL) and less-commonly taught (LCTL) languages at the University of Arizona, where the data was collected with the help of a questionnaire. In terms of grammar teaching, Schultz discovered that the students had more favorable attitudes towards formal grammar study than their teachers did, and that even though a large majority of both groups believed that studying grammar helps in foreign language learning, the students shared the belief more often than the teachers (Schultz, 1996, p.345). Overall, the students’ responses indicated a strong belief about the usefulness of grammar teaching (Schultz 1996, p. 345). When it comes to error correction, the students reported notably positive attitudes towards negative feedback with only 4% of them reporting feelings of displeasure when corrected in class (Schultz, 1996, p.346). When the students were asked whether they want the teacher to correct their errors, the vast majority answered ‘Yes’, both in terms of written and spoken errors (97% and 90% respectively) (Schultz, 1996, p. 346). There was a great disparity between the students’ and the teachers’ opinions, as only 34% of the CTL teachers and 50% of the LCTL teachers felt that the student should be corrected every time they make an oral error (Schultz, 1996, p.347). To conclude, Schultz (1996, p.348) states that the students’ favorable attitudes towards explicit grammar study and error correction may be due to three factors: 1) they may be based on a generally agreed myths that pass along from generation to generation, 2) they may be strongly affected by the grammar-focus curriculum and prevalent instructional practices, and 3) they may be based on personal experiences convincing the students about the usefulness of grammar and corrective feedback.
In Iranian EFL context, numerous researches have been done to date. Vaezi, Zand-Vakili and Kashani (2011) conducted a study on observational classroom research on corrective feedback and then presented an observational study of patterns of error treatment in an adult ESL classroom at two intermediate and advanced levels. Their study examined the range and types of feedback used by Iranian teachers in three different aspects (grammatical, phonological and lexical). The findings of their study showed an obvious tendency for implicit types of reformulative feedback, namely, recasts at intermediate level, especially in relation to structural errors, leaving little opportunity for other feedback types and at advanced level recast was the most frequent one in phonological aspects. Moreover, contrary to Lyster and Ranta’s model (1997) findings proved lack of Iranian teacher’s feedback in relation to lexical errors.
A recent study by Rahimi and Dastjerdi (2012) had a two-fold objective, including both error correction and anxiety. Firstly, they investigated an effective error correction method for developing learners’ complexity, accuracy and fluency in speech in terms of immediate and delayed correction. Secondly, they aimed at measuring students’ anxiety levels while the teacher corrected their errors immediately and with some delay. Rahimi and Dastjerdi (2012) found out that delayed error correction has a positive effect on fluency and accuracy but not on complexity. In terms of anxiety experienced in relation to error correction their conclusion was that students who received delayed correction experience less anxiety and were more comfortable to participate in discussions.
Oral corrective feedback plays an important role in the teaching of English language. Park (2010) studied on the native English teachers’ choice and their students’ preference of corrective feedback in English conversation in the EFL context of Korea and produced several important findings by analyzing quantitative and qualitative data. The results of the quantitative data analysis showed that all of the groups’teachers, students, the high proficient students (HPSs), and the low proficient students (LPSs) ‘preferred recast as the most suitable feedback. Another result was that the explicit correction approach was the only one showing a significant difference between the comparison groups: teachers and students, and the HPSs and the LPSs. As Park mentions “the results of the qualitative data analysis were: 1) both teachers and students showed individual differences as well as group differences of corrective feedback, which might result in statistical insignificance in the overall group comparison in the quantitative data and 2) some of the teachers and students perceived clarification request, elicitation, and repetition as measuring the same construct of implicit correction. This study concludes with teaching implications and future study areas for corrective feedback (p. 29)
According to Buyukbay (2010) recasts, a form of corrective feedback has been investigated more than any other type of corrective feedback by researchers. Gholizade (2013) studied on the differential impact of recast and metalinguistic feedback on speaking performance of male and female EFL learners. The results showed that corrective feedback, in the form of metalinguistic was effective in leading to speaking accuracy, fluency and complexity. This study failed to find any significant difference between male and female participants.
Buyukbay (2010) investigated the effectiveness of repetition as corrective feedback in terms of its contribution to student uptake and acquisition. He videotaped both of the classes of the experimental and control group. He analyzed the feedback episodes and based on them created a grammar test. Then, he compared the test results. As he concluded “the results revealed that the experimental class, which was exposed to repetition as corrective feedback, achieved higher scores. The findings of the study indicated that repetition as a correction technique is effective in terms of its contribution to uptake and acquisition” (p. 181).
Metalinguistic instruction of feedback strategies is considered important in some studies for improving speaking abilities of the students. For example, Nassaji (2009)studied on the effects of feedbacks to speaking of pre-intermediate Iranian EFL learners’ speaking. This study revealed the positive influence of form-focused instruction of feedback strategies. Kollahi’s study (2012) on the effects of feedbacks on pre-intermediate students’ speaking performance proves Nassaji’s study. As Gholizade (2013) states “in their study, with concerning the differential effects of prompts and recasts, the result of the immediate post-test demonstrated the superiority of prompts in comparison to recasts which can be accounted for by taking into consideration the explicit-implicit dichotomy. Explicit feedback led to much more feedback appreciation” (p. 426). The aim of these studies is to deal with one of the most important issues in EFL, that is, whether teachers should focus on feedback or not, and if yes to which strategy of feedback should be focused.
According to Shorpour and Zarei (2015), “although students pay more attention to explicit corrective feedback than implicit corrective feedback (Mackey et al., 2007; Nassaji, 2009) and prompts more than recasts (Ammar, 2008), some researchers have proposed that the effects of implicit corrective feedback may be more lasting than those of explicit corrective feedback, which may be more effective in the short term memory (Mackey & Goo, 2007; Li, 2010; Ellis et al., 2006).
Shorpour and Zarei (2015) studied on the efficacy of explicit corrective feedback (CF) with metalinguistic rules on picture-cued task of speaking assessment for production of seven common English tenses. Based on their oral proficiency at the beginning of the study the two groups were homogenous, but the results revealed that the experimental group outperformed the control group in the immediate and delayed post-oral testing. As they state “the results also confirmed that the effect of error correction was more significant on present perfect tense and less significant on simple present tense” (p.3565). The results in this study indicate the positive and importance of providing explicit and metalinguistic corrective feedback. Conducting studies like this one may contribute to better teaching and testing oral skills to the foreign language learners.
Mendez et al. (2010) studied on the role of corrective feedback in the EFL classes in English language program, and they analyzed the corrective feedback techniques used by the EFL teachers in this program. For this, an exploratory study which integrated documentary and qualitative research was conducted. They interviewed five language instructors from the English language bachelors’ program. The findings showed that the type of correction mostly used by teachers is teacher correction. These teachers frequently used the techniques such as repetition of error, recasting, body language, and metalinguistic feedback. They concluded that these teachers preferred implicit corrective feedback because in this way the students’ styles, personalities, and attitudes could be considered. The teachers concerned the students’ emotions, and they were afraid of de-motivating them from learning the language. According to Mendez et al. “it also seems that instructors” target for oral corrective feedback is phonology and morphosyntax, but semantics and pragmatics are the most neglected areas. The provision of corrective feedback seems unsystematic, inconsistent and ambiguous” (p. 1)
3. Research Questions
In accordance with the research objectives, the researcher formulates two research questions as follows:
1. Does explicit corrective feedback have any significant effect on the use of collocations in speaking assignments by Iranian EFL learners?
2. Does implicit corrective feedback have any significant effect on the use of collocations in speaking assignments by Iranian EFL learners?
Accordingly, two null hypotheses are posed by the researcher as follows:
H01: Explicit corrective feedback does not have any significant effect on the use of collocations in speaking assignments by Iranian EFL learners.
H02: Implicit corrective feedback does not have any significant effect on the use of collocations in speaking assignments by Iranian EFL learners.
4. Methodology
4.1 Participants
The researcher selected 120 intermediate EFL male and female students, who were studying at Shokuhinstitute in Quchan. The students were aged between 15-24 years old. They divided into three experimental and one control groups. All these students passed 7 levels of Top Notch books. To capture their language proficiency, the researcher first administered the Nelson test and decided to select the students whose scores fell between one standard deviation above and below the mean. In other words, the students at the intermediate level were selected.
4.2 Instrumentation
The instrument that used in this study was the 50-item Nelson English Language Proficiency Test. This multiple-choice test included cloze passages, vocabulary, structure, and pronunciation tests that used to homogenize the participants. The English language proficiency test used in the present study was adopted from Fowler and Coe (1978). The reliability coefficient of this proficiency test was high, Cronbach Alpha = 0.82 (Hashemian, Roohani&Fadaei, 2012). The scoring of the test was calculated out of 50, one score for each question.
After that, students took a pre-test that was a combination of different questions about different topics in speaking. A pretest, an FCE test was used. It was a standardized measurement with four essential qualities ‘ validity, reliability, impact, and practicality ‘ and internationally used to describe language ability of learners.2) A post-test ( the same version of FCE test) was used to check the efficiency of the treatment was used.
4.3 Procedure
At first, Nelson test was given to students for the purpose of homogenizing the participants, and those students whose scores fall one standard deviation above and below the mean were elected for the study. After that, students took a pre-test that is a combination of different questions about different topics in speaking. In the treatment part, the two experimental groups received oral implicit, explicit, for ten sessions. The material of these exams extracted from numerous collocations books such as English collocations in use by (Michael Mccarthy, 2005 ) Key words to fluency by(George Woolard, 2005) , Collocations organizer by (M”moniakKif”koi, 2015 ). In the class that implicit corrective feedback carried out, the students were given five minutes to prepare themselves to talk about a topic, and then they were supposed to speak in the class. If they had any mistakes, the researcher indirectly tried to direct the student to the correct answer by giving some clues orally. In the other class with explicit feedback, five minute of the class was allocated to each student to talk, too. If there were any mistakes, the researcher tried to guide the student to the correct answer by directly correcting them. After seven sessions of treatment, students were given post-test to investigate the result of the treatment.
4.5 Data Analysis
To see if the results of students’ erroneous usage of collocations in speaking make any difference or not, the researcher gave implicit and explicit corrective feedback to two experimental groups of students. Descriptive statistics was conducted to see the mean and standard deviation of each group. Matched t-test was used to check the efficacy of each treatment. The researcher also used a one-way ANOVA to elaborate on the significant differences among the mean of different groups.
5.Results and Discussion
5.1.The First Null Hypothesis

In order to test the first null hypothesis, and to see if there is a significance difference between the performance of the participants in explicit corrective feedback group on posttest, a paired-sample t-tests was run. The result is reported in Table 5.5. As displayed in Table 5.5, the t-observed value is 11.183. This amount of t-value at 29 degrees of freedom is higher than the critical t-value of t, i.e., 3.67.
Table 5.1. Paired-SampleT-test for Pretest and Posttestof theExplicit Group
Paired Samples Test
Paired Differences T Df Sig. (2-tailed)
Mean Std. Deviation Std. Error Mean 95% Confidence Interval of the Difference
Lower Upper
Explicit Posttest-
Pretest 5.43333 2.66113 .48585 4.43965 6.42702 11.183 29 .000

Based on the results, it can be safely concluded that there is a significant difference in the performance of the explicit corrective feedback group on the posttest. The explicit corrective feedback group’s mean score has increased from 52.00 to 57.43 (Table5.2).
Table 5.2. Descriptive Statistics for Pretest and Posttest of the Explicit Group

Mean N Std. Deviation Std. Error Mean
Explicit Posttest 57.4333 30 3.78457 .69097
Pretest 52.0000 30 3.23771 .59112

Figure 5.2 displays the improvement from the pretest to the posttest for the explicit corrective feedback group due to the treatment.

Figure5.2. Pretest and Posttest of the Explicit Corrective Feedback Group
4.2. The Second Null Hypothesis
In order to test the second null hypothesis, and to see if there is a difference between the performance of the participants in implicit corrective feedback group on posttest, a paired-samples t-tests was run. The result is reported in Table 5.7. As displayed in Table5.7, the t-observed value is 1.670. This amount of t-value at 29 degrees of freedom is lower than the critical t-value of t, i.e., 3.67.
Table5.3. Paired SampleT-test for the Pretest and Posttestof theImplicit Group
Paired Samples Test
Paired Differences t df Sig. (2-tailed)
Mean Std. Deviation Std. Error Mean 95% Confidence Interval of the Difference
Lower Upper
Implicit Posttest – Pretest .66667 2.18669 .39923 -.14986 1.48319 1.670 29 .106

Based on these results, it can be safely concluded that there is a significant difference between the mean scores of the implicit corrective feedback group on the pretest and posttest. The implicit corrective feedback group performed better on the posttest. Their mean score has increased from to52.13 to 52.80 (Table5.4). But this difference is not significant.
Table 4.4. Descriptive Statistics for Pretest and Posttest of the Implicit Group

Mean N Std. Deviation Std. Error Mean
Implicit Posttest 52.8000 30 3.39777 .62034
Pretest 52.1333 30 3.21348 .58670

Figure 5.3 displays the improvement from the pretest to the posttest for the implicit corrective feedback group due to the treatment.

Figure 5.3. Pretest and Posttest implicit Corrective Feedback Group
The goal of this study was to analyze the difference between the effects of two types of feedback including explicit and impliciton learners’ accuracy with regard to the application of the collocations in their speaking tasks. First, the researcher conducted a pretest to assess the students’ level of accuracy in using collocations in their speaking. Pre-test results indicated no difference in learner’s performance before treatment. According to the results of this study, the significant main effects found for the factor explicit corrective feedback suggested affirmative answer to this research questions: explicit corrective feedback does have a significant effect on the use of collocations in speaking assignments by Iranian EFL learners. As the results reported in tables 5.1., 5.2, 5.3 and 5.4 showed in previous chapter, (a) applying explicit corrective feedback has significant impact on the use of collocations in speaking assignments by Iranian EFL learners, (b) explicit corrective feedback group performed significantly better than implicit corrective feedback.
As collocations are considered as an essential part of language use (Ellis, 2001), they may be taken into account as a practical space to look for how advanced adult learners rely on such features to compensate for insufficiencies in semantic knowledge, particularly in oral interaction in classroom discourse. Examples range from two word combinations such as deep depression to lengthy combinations such as So how about the other way round. These language forms comprise much of speech and writing. But there are many more collocations than words, since many words occur in several different collocations. Consequently, the task of achieving proficiency in a second language is even greater than when vocabulary acquisition was considered in terms of learning words. In addition, grammar rules are too general to provide guidance for acceptable word combinations.
The obtained data of the study were in line with the results of the previous researches conducted by different scholars. Lewis (1993, 2000) addresses the mentioned problems by providing rationales for focusing on collocations and providing applications that complement the rationales. In his books, Lewis provided teachers with a guide to how to use collocations as well as providing clear explanations of the importance of doing so. He put much emphasis on the explicit teaching of collocations and mentioned inappropriate usage of collocations should be clearly explained and corrected by the instructor.
To account for individuals’ oral interaction in classroom discourse, Bybee (2006) has argued that speakers represent instances of language, including constructions and collocations which, via repetition of types and tokens, become increasingly entrenched. In his study, he concluded teaching of idiomatic expressions and collocations were enhanced when the teacher clearly mentioned the usage and the importance of these fixed expressions in natural every day conversations among the native speakers.
In another research, Zarei (2002) found that Iranian EFL learners have problems with English collocations. She applied two methods for giving feedback, namely recast and asking for clarification. The first method belongs to implicit corrective feedback and the second to implicit one. The results of her study proved the fact that the students’ uptake was significantly higher while the explicit type of feedback was hired.
5.2 Conclusion
The goal of this study was to analyze the difference between the effects of two types of feedback including explicit and implicit on learners’ accuracy with regard to the application of the collocations in their speaking tasks.
According to the results of this study, the significant main effects found for the factor explicit corrective feedback suggested affirmative answer to this research questions: explicit corrective feedback have a significant effect on the use of collocations in speaking assignments by Iranian EFL learners. As the results reported in tables 5.1., 5.2, 5.3 and 5.4 showed, (a) applying explicit corrective feedback has impact on the use of collocations in speaking assignments by Iranian EFL learners, (b) explicit corrective feedback group performed significantly better than implicit corrective feedback.
Explicit feedback is provided when the teacher identifies an error the correct form, but Implicit feedback refers to situations when the teacher only indicates that there is an error but does not provide a correction. Therefore, it is the student who should diagnose and correct it (Ferris, 2002).
According to the analysis of findings in the study, the following conclusion could be drawn: Applying elicitation explicit corrective feedback on speaking errors regarding usage of collocations by the teachers may help students get better results in learning collocations and consequently in their speaking fluency.
As a result, not only the present study found that the explicit corrective feedback had a greater effect than the implicit correct feedback, but it also found that both explicit and implicit feedback facilitated improvement in the more “treatable”, rule-governed features than in the less “treatable” feature.

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Essay UK, The Effect of Explicit and Implicit Corrective Feedback on the Use of Collocations in Speaking Assignments by Iranian EFL learners. Available from: <http://www.essay.uk.com/essays/english-language/the-effect-of-explicit-and-implicit-corrective-feedback-on-the-use-of-collocations-in-speaking-assignments-by-iranian-efl-learners/> [19-11-17].


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