This paper examines the phenomenon of fossilisation, that is long-term persistence of non-target-like structures (Selinker and Lakshmanan, 1992 in Han 2004), in four Italian adult one-to-one students. It distinguishes between errors and mistakes, showing that a pre-emptive and post-emptive focus on form is necessary to de-stabilise fossilised errors, whilst a consciousness-raising strategy is more important in the case of mistakes. It also looks at the area of error/mistake correction and feedback, encouraging student self-correction and arguing that in the case of fossilisation it could be beneficial to sacrifice fluency for immediate correction.
Written error correction (Dissertation)
This study sets out to examine the question of the efficacy of written error correction in the writing component of a general English course. Two research questions are posed: is grammar correction an effective way to improve grammatical competence in L2 writing? and are some types of error more amenable to correction than others? Participatory action research was carried out with two classes of Italian primary school teachers learning English in order to qualify as English teachers. Each class was divided into a correction group and a non-correction group and seven essays over a two month period were written by the students. Statistical analyses were carried out to answer the research questions. The major findings are: a. written grammar error correction does not lead to any statistically significant improvement over time. b. lexical errors were found to be correctable, as were simple grammatical errors, whereas complex morphosyntactic errors showed a deterioration with correction and an improvement without correction. A questionnaire was administered in order to investigate student attitudes to the research. Findings are that students prefer correction but may feel freer to experiment without correction. Pedagogical implications and weaknesses of the present study are also discussed.