eractional feedback in Second language Acquisition has recently become of prime significance and the focal of much SLA research. Interactional feedback is defined as the feedback that is generated through different modification strategies. Such modification strategies occur while dealing with communication problems. (Gass, 1997; Long, 1981, 1983; Pica, 1987, 1994). William (2003) argues that “the goal of feedback is to teach skills that help students improve their writing proficiency to the point where they are cognizant of what is expected of them as writers and are able to produce it with minimal error and maximum clarity” (p. 1). He proposes two classifications of feedback. feedback on form, in which teachers provide learners with surface error corrections by underlying or marking errors to show only their presence; and feedback on content, where the teacher writes his comments on drafts pointing out problems offering suggestions for their improvement. On one hand, it can be concluded that feedback on form can be unclear and inconsistent. on the other hand, as stated by Williams, comments made by writing teachers regarding feedback on content, can be “vague, contradictory and inconsistent”, which leads students to frustration (2003, p. 1). One way to solve this problem is that teachers should employ a “standard of clear and direct comments and questions to indicate place and type of content feedback” (2003, p. 1). A large number of experimental and observational researches have addressed the role of interactional feedback in second language (L2) acquisition. (e.g., Braidi, 2002; Doughty & Varela, 1998; Philp, 2003). In general, these researches have shown that L2 learners may reap the benefit of interactional feedback. Nevertheless, many studies documented mixed results for interactional feedback. For instance, some observational studies have shown that recasts as a type of corrective feedback lead to a significant amount of immediate repair of learners’ erroneous language production (e.g., Mori, 2002; Sheen, 2004), other studies demonstrated that recasts lead to a minimal amount of immediate repair of erroneous utterances (e.g., Lyster, 2004).
In the SLA literature, much of the argument for the role of interactional feedback was developed by Long’s Interaction Hypothesis as well as the significant role of negotiation in inter language development (Long, 1996). Gass (2003) defines negotiation as interactional modifications that occur in conversational discourse for repairing repair communication failures. Interactional feedback also plays an important role in providing learners with negative feedback and promoting noticing. Interactional feedback may also be helpful to L2 development because it opens up opportunities for pushed output. Swain argued that learners “need to be pushed to make use of their resources; they need to have their linguistic abilities stretched to their fullest; they need to reflect on their output and consider ways of modifying it to enhance comprehensibility, appropriateness, and accuracy” (Swain, 1993, p. 160). Some studies have also suggested that interactional negotiation like clarification requests creates opportunities for pushed output. These opportunities are indeed offered by forcing learners to modify their non target like language production toward being more accurate (Lyster, 2004; McDonough, 2005).
Reformulations and elicitations are two major types of interactional feedback that have recently become the focus of much SAL research. Many empirical, observational as well as experimental studies have been conducted in this field. A fairly advantageous technique for providing feedback is that of reformulation technique which was born as a result of error analysis in the 1970’s. Levenston (1978) proposed the idea of reconstruction and mentioned that the reconstructed version of a sentence is “what a native speaker of the target language would have said to express a certain meaning in a certain context, it was a translated equivalent” (in Myers, 1997, p. 2). Levenston (1978) suggested that rhetorical factors other than only grammar should be taken into account in the process of reformulation. The reformulator should “re-write the paper so as to preserve as many of the writer’s ideas as possible, while expressing them in his/her own words so as to make the piece sound native-like” (Cohen , 1989 in Myers 1997, p. 2).
Reformulation is defined as an interactional feedback that rephrases the learner’s erroneous utterance into a target like form (e.g., Ellis et al., 2001; Lyster & Ranta, 1997; Mackey & Philip, 1998). Cohen (1983) defines reformulation as a technique of ‘having a native writer of the target language rewrite the learner’s essay, preserving all the learner’s ideas, making it sound as native like as possible’ (p. 4) rather than merely pointing out errors for them. Hedge (2000) argues reformulation constitutes “a useful procedure when students have produced a first draft and are moving on to look at more local possibilities for improvement” (p. 313). Learners are required to have a comparison of their original writing and the reformulated version “with regard to vocabulary, syntax, cohesion, and rhetorical functions” (Cohen, 1983, p. 5). Reformulation as defined by All wright consists in:
“… an attempt by a native writer to understand what a non-native writer is trying to say and then to re-write it in more natural to the native writer. This rewriting involves making changes of any kind and at all levels: syntax, lexis, cohesion and discourse functions, but the point of any such changes must be to respect and bring out the original writer’s probable intentions. A reformulation therefore is intended to offer a sympathetic reader’s interpretation in acceptable English, of the original writer’s text” (1986, p. 111).
Ellis (2009) argues that “reformulation involves two options ‘direct correction’ + ‘revision’ but it differs from how these options are typically executed in that the whole of the student’s text is reformulated thus laying the burden on the learner to identify the specific changes that have been made”. Thorn bury (1997) classifies reformulation technique as being task?based because it reverses the traditional practice of accuracy to fluency model.
Sachs & Polio (2007) compared reformulation with direct error correction. According to them, the main different between these two types of feedback was “a matter of presentation and task demands and was not related to the kinds of errors that were corrected”. They provided the difference in presentation in the example below.