An Investigation of Implicit vs. Explicit Oral Corrective Feedback on Chinese Pupils ’ Use of Past Tense

Keywords: Oral feedback, feedback types, primary ESL learners


This experimental study investigated the relative effectiveness of two broad categories of oral corrective feedback (i.e., implicit vs. explicit feedback) on primary pupils’ use of past tense. Data was collected from a primary school in Hong Kong involving 24 pupils in two experimental groups and one control group. A pre-test was given in the first week to ensure the three groups were equivalent at the beginning. Afterwards, students were asked to retell a story, during which students in one experimental group received implicit oral feedback on their use of past tense, while those in the other experimental group received explicit feedback. The control group did not receive immediate oral feedback. All three groups received an immediate post-test at the end of story retelling, and a delayed post-test two weeks later. Test scores were analysed to examine changes within each group and differences across groups. The study found both experimental groups outperformed the control group, but there was no significant difference between the two experimental groups, except that the group receiving explicit feedback tended to outperform the implicit group, especially in repairing regular verbs. The findings suggest both types of oral corrective feedback could be given to ESL learners during form-related classroom instruction.

Author Biographies

Qin Xie, Education University of Hong Kong

Dr Xie, Qin is currently Assistant Professor at the Education University of Hong Kong. She has published on international peer-reviewed journals such as Language Testing, Language Assessment Quarterly, System, Assessing Writing, International Journal of Testing, and Educational Psychology, focusing on washback, test validation, and diagnostic language assessment. She is interested in Structural Equation Modelling, Rasch Measurement, Cognitive Diagnostic Modeling, and Corpus linguistics including their applications in language education and assessment.

Chingyee Yeung, Education University of Hong Kong

Chingyee Annie Yeung is currently a primary English teacher in Chui Chak Lam Memorial School, Hong Kong. She has a BEd (in English language education) and is also pursuing a masters degree in Family Counselling and Family Education.