Teachers' Smiling during Oral Corrective Feedback and Its Impact on Learner Uptake in L2 Classrooms


Hilal Ergul

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


Literature and Languages

Date of Award

Fall 2018


Oral corrective feedback is one of the most studied constructs in second language acquisition studies. It has been found to be beneficial to language learning; however, the variables that make it more or less effective are still under scrutiny. In this study, I investigated smiling during feedback, whether it plays a role in its effectiveness, and whether it is used as a mitigating strategy. Adding the Facial Action Coding System (Ekman & Friesen, 1976; Ekman, Friesen, & Hager, 2002) and Caffi's (2007) typology of linguistic mitigation in conversation to the analytical framework of oral corrective feedback sequences by Lyster and Ranta (1997), I explored oral corrective feedback, smiling, and mitigation. The data came from seven English as a foreign language teachers in a private language school in Turkey. The students in the study were from three adult classrooms at the intermediate competency level. Derived from a mixed methods design, the results of the study indicate that teachers smile approximately 20% of the time on average during oral corrective feedback, which does not differ significantly from the ratio of smiles when they are not correcting errors. Furthermore, smiling does not correlate with increased likelihood of successful learner repair of errors, unless the smile from the teacher is genuine as measured by the Facial Action Coding System. Genuine smiles bear a significantly strong association with effective oral corrective feedback as determined by whether the learner corrects her/his mistake in the turn that immediately follows the feedback instance. Moreover, the teachers in this study mitigated their feedback using a number of linguistic and paralinguistic, and the results indicate that smiling may be one of those mitigating strategies.


Salvatore Attardo

Subject Categories

Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education | Education