Chapter 3. ‘You could make this clearer’: Teachers’ advice on ESL academic writing

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The comments students receive on their written work are one of the most ubiquitous forms of advice found in educational settings, and this advice takes on even greater importance in second language classrooms. This study is based on a small corpus of feedback given by two teachers to six ESL writers at a New Zealand university. The data comprises all the feedback given to these students, the teachers’ verbal protocols when giving this advice, and interviews with the students on their interpretations of the advice. The analysis reveals how teachers negotiate the complex power relations involved in a relationship which depends on close interpersonal engagement and mutual understanding and illuminates something of this complex and interesting speech act.


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