Feedback in L2 Writing Classes

Feedback in L2 Writing Classes

Feedback in L2 Writing Classes 

By Icy Lee

Feedback plays a central role in language learning. It allows teachers to help students revise, consolidate and strengthen their learning. While language researchers generally agree that feedback can be a useful teaching tool, they have different opinions about the type, frequency and amount of feedback that can directly support and improve learning.

In the area of written corrective feedback, the debate about whether feedback has an impact on students’ writing ability has been going on for years. John Truscott, for example, holds that the empirical research showing the positive effect of written corrective feedback is not convincing. He seems to stick to his stand that feedback is not useful and does not improve students’ writing ability. In fact, he is often quoted as saying that feedback can in fact be harmful.

Dana Ferris and other writing researchers (e.g., John Bitchener) on the other hand, disagree with Truscott. They maintain that the evidence supporting judicious use of written corrective feedback can improve student writing. A recent meta-analysis on the efficacy of written corrective feedback by Lim & Renandya (2020)⭐ for example shows a moderate impact of feedback on student writing.

The disagreement among researchers can be a source of confusion for classroom language teachers. Should they give or not give feedback? If they do give feedback, how do they know that the feedback they give result in improvements? If they don’t, how would they respond to queries by their schools and students’ parents?

The book by Icy Lee “Feedback in L2 Writing Classes” provides a balanced view on the efficacy of feedback and offers practical suggestions on how teachers can provide feedback to students’ writing.

You might want to read her preface below before deciding to download the book.

Click here to download the ebook.




In different parts of the world, language teachers spend a massive amount of time responding to student writing. However, many of them are skeptical of the effectiveness of their own practice and unsure about how best to give feedback on student writing.

The book is written to provide a practical guide to help writing teachers enhance their feedback practices. To this end, I include six chapters in the book, aiming to help teachers understand the purposes of feedback in classroom writing assessment, and how different types of feedback can be utilized effectively to maximize student learning.

Another important aim of the book is to help teachers examine their existing feedback approaches critically, challenge taken-for-granted assumptions about conventional practices, and acquire effective feedback principles to help students improve their writing.

In the book I have included tasks for reflection and discussion, which can be used in teacher professional development workshops. I have also proposed areas for innovation and action / classroom research, which can hopefully provide teachers with practical ideas to enhance and research their own feedback practices.

Interested teachers can bring this practical book to their own professional learning communities, play the role of teacher facilitators /trainers, and engage colleagues in collaborative teacher professional development.

My underlying belief is that improved feedback practices will lead to better learning outcomes in the writing classroom, and my hope is that teachers will make good use of the book to benefit their own professional development as well as their students’ learning and writing.


Further reading

Feedback that works

Exploring the integration of automated feedback among lower-proficiency EFL learners

⭐Lim, S. C., & Renandya, W.A. (2020). Efficacy of Written Corrective Feedback in Writing Instruction: A Meta-Analysis. TESL-EJ, 24(3), 1-26.


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