IWL Speaker Series - Dr. Lourdes Ortega, February 4
Best Practices for Error Correction in Foreign Language Classrooms
Lourdes Ortega, Georgetown University
Correcting grammar errors in speaking or writing is thought to be part of every language teacher’s job, a professional duty that many language teachers excel in and that most language students expect. There are however many complexities that teachers wonder about, encompassing affective concerns (will it demotivate some of my students?), time management (how can it become less time consuming?), doubts about effectiveness (how do I know that it is making a difference in my students’ accuracy?), proficiency differences (should I correct errors in the same ways regardless of my students’ language level?), and educational goals and philosophies of teaching (how should I reconcile correcting for accuracy with teaching for communication? how do I manage language accuracy efforts like error correction in the context of teaching other important dimensions of a foreign language, like culture, literature, or writing?). I will examine these complexities and propose tentative best practices regarding why, whether, how, when, and what to correct in foreign language students’ errors. My goal is to do so through insights gleaned from a balanced examination of research findings and the realities of foreign language education in practice. I will argue that much is to be gained if language teachers rethink their error correction practices as a journey of professional self-discovery.
Lourdes Ortega is Professor in the Department of Linguistics at Georgetown University. Her main area of research is in second language acquisition, particularly sociocognitive and educational dimensions in adult classroom settings. Before moving to the USA in 1993, she was a teacher of Spanish as a foreign language at the Cervantes Institute in Athens and she has also taught English as a second language in Hawaii and Georgia. Lourdes was co-recipient of the Pimsleur and the TESOL Research awards (2001) and has been a doctoral Mellon fellow (1999), a postdoctoral Spencer/National Academy of Education fellow (2003), and a senior research fellow at the Freiburg Institute of Advanced Studies (2010). She has published several books, including Understanding Second Language Acquisition (Routledge, 2009) and many articles in journals such as Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, Applied Linguistics, Journal of Second Language Writing, Language Learning, Modern Language Journal, Studies in Second Language Acquisition, and System. She is the Past Journal Editor of Language Learning (2010-2015).
Lourdes Ortega is Professor in the Department of Linguistics at Georgetown University (GU). She has mentored many master’s and doctoral students at GU but also previously at Georgia State University, Northern Arizona University, and the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. Her main area of research is in second language acquisition. She investigates questions surrounding best teaching practices and how they impact on youth and adults’ cognitive, social, and educational well-being when they learn new languages not growing up bilingual inside their family, but at any point later in life. Her other interests include foreign language education, second language writing, and systematic research synthesis. She also likes reflecting about the world of researchers and their activities: For what and for whom are different kinds of research good? What are valued ways to know about second language acquisition and why? How do ideologies of language affect how people investigate, teach, or learn languages? In the last few years she has become interested in applying insights from bilingualism and from usage-based linguistics to the investigation of second language development. Two central questions in this new agenda are: How does experience shape language learning? What counts as success in bi/multilingual acquisition, and who is to tell?
Lourdes grew up in southern Spain, where she received her first degree in Spanish Philology. After spending a year abroad in Germany, she lived in Greece for 7 years and developed her first career as a language teacher of Spanish at the Cervantes Institute in Athens. She relocated to the United States in 1993 to do graduate school, and the US has been her chosen country to work and citizenship since then.
Lourdes was co-recipient of the Pimsleur and the TESOL Research awards (2001) and has been a doctoral Mellon fellow (1999), a postdoctoral Spencer/National Academy of Education fellow (2003), and a senior research fellow at the Freiburg Institute of Advanced Studies (2010). Her publications include articles in flagship journals such as Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, Applied Linguistics, Journal of Second Language Writing, Language Learning, Language Learning & Technology, Modern Language Journal, Studies in Second Language Acquisition, System, and TESOL Quarterly. She serves or has served on the editorial boards on a number of these and other journals. Her most recent books are Technology-Mediated TBLT: Researching Technology and Tasks (co-edited with Marta González-Lloret, John Benjamins, 2014) and Understanding Second Language Acquisition (1st edition with Hodder, 2009; 2nd revised edition with Routledge, 2016). She served as Area Editor for “Language Learning and Teaching” for the Wiley Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics (2012-2014) and just finished her term as Journal Editor of Language Learning (2010-2015).