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Translanguaging pedagogy in tutor’s oral corrective feedback on chinese EFL learners’ argumentative writing


Translanguaging pedagogy has widely attracted interests from studies of second or foreign language teaching. Corrective feedback has long been recognized for its value on improving second language learning outcomes. However, limited attention has been given to the potential influence of translanguaging in the process of corrective feedback on learners’ second language writing performance, especially the influence of oral corrective feedback. This paper aims at exploring the effects of translanguaging in tutors’ oral corrective feedback (OCF) on Chinese EFL learners’ argumentative writing in six-week writing tutorials. 12 first-year Chinese college students and a Chinese tutor of English participated in the study at a university in Central China. The findings showed positive effects of translanguaging in OCF on Chinese EFL students’ argumentative writing performance. It attempts to make some contributions to EFL writing instruction. Teachers can alter their monolingual medium of English only to adapt to students’ needs, focus on students’ language practices, and create a language education ecological environment through translanguaging pedagogy.


Translanguaging, a major theory in applied linguistics, has influenced policy and practice in many fields, such as language learning and bilingual/multilingual education, in the last two decades (Li & Shen, 2021). According to Li (2018), translanguaging has theoretically reframed many language-related notions, such as linguistic competence and bilingual education, and practically offered new approaches to language teaching, as well as language learning, in the fields of second language education and bilingual or multilingual education.

The other impetus behind this research comes from oral corrective feedback (OCF). Feedback is crucial for encouraging and consolidating learning (Vygotsky, 1978). Different types of feedback are viewed differently in different theories in terms of whether and how they facilitate language learning (Li, 2021). Corrective feedback (CF) refers to teacher and peer responses to learners’ erroneous second language (L2) production. Oral corrective feedback (OCF) refers to oral comments that a teacher or an interlocutor makes on errors that occur in second language learners’ output. The recent burgeoning of research into OCF is attributable to its pedagogical and theoretical significance (Li, 2014).

Previously, some scholars have argued for the integrated use of two or more languages in the foreign language (FL) learning and teaching process to help learners either acquire the content or develop their language competence by using the stronger language to develop the weaker one (Canagarajah, 2013; García & Li, 2014; Sano, 2018; Turnbull, 2019). To date, while translanguaging as bilingual pedagogies has been widely applied in bi-/multilingual classes of various kinds, there are only a few studies on translanguaging in writing classes, and most research has focused on learners’ writing identity and teachers’ or students’ written feedback (Barbour & Lickorish, 2020; Canagarajah, 2011; Turnbull, 2019; Velasco & García, 2014), while little attention has been given to oral corrective feedback. Motivated by this, the present study investigates the effects of translanguaging in teachers’ oral corrective feedback on EFL learners’ writing.

Literature review

Oral corrective feedback in second language learning

Oral corrective feedback (OCF) has been defined as “a reactive type of form-focused instruction which is considered to be effective in promoting noticing and thus conducive to learning” (Yang & Lyster, 2010, p. 237). OCF is a pedagogical technique that has been claimed to be beneficial for the process of second language acquisition (SLA) (Russell & Spada, 2006; Sheen, 2011). This oral corrective technique is part of what has been termed ascorrective feedback episodes (CFE). We have chosen the term CFE as it is the most frequently used in the literature (Lyster et al., 2013; Mackey et al., 2000) after Lyster and Ranta’s (1997) seminal study. Typically, CFEs consist of three moves: Error, OCF and Uptake.

OCF is a topic that has been widely explored in the field of SLA. Previous studies have considered different factors, such as learners’ individual differences (ID) or the type of OCF, that could be more appropriate to address different types of errors (Kartchava & Ammar, 2014). Regarding the former, learners’ age (Panova & Lyster, 2002; Oliver & Grote, 2010), learners’ beliefs (Kartchava, 2016; Yang, 2016) and proficiency level (Ammar & Spada, 2006) have been reported to have an impact on learners’ response to oral corrections. For the latter, a balanced and tailored provision of types has been recommended: explicit correction, recast, clarification request, metalinguistic clues, elicitation and repetition (Lyster & Mori, 2006; Saito & Lyster, 2012). Research has reported the predominance of recasts, with the exception of OCF in high school classrooms, where prompts have been claimed to be more frequent (Brown, 2016). In terms of their effectiveness, both recasts and prompts have been found to lead to successful uptake and repair, depending on variables such as error type (Goo & Mackey, 2013; Long, 2015). Thus, prompts have been found to be more effective for grammar errors, while recasts appear to lead to higher rates of uptake when used for pronunciation or lexical errors (Saito, 2013; Bryfonski & Ma, 2020).

Translanguaging practices in L2 writing pedagogy

As García and Li (2014, p. 20) pointed out, translanguaging is a new paradigm that is twofold: “Referring to the complex, dynamic, and integrated linguistic practices of bi/multilinguals and communities, as well as the pedagogical approaches that use those complex practices.” Translanguaging, as an emerging concept in the field of linguistics, refers to the idea that multilinguals shuttle between languages and integrate different kinds of language practices into his or her experience base to organize and adjust language learners’ cognitive understanding process and literacy development. Over the years, translanguaging has proven to be an effective pedagogical practice in a variety of educational contexts where the school language or the medium of instruction is different from the languages of the learners (Creese & Blackledge, 2015; García, 2009; Li, 2018).

The concepts that we construct through a translanguaging approach transform and extend our current language-related definitions (García & Li, 2014). Language is not independent of human actions with others, only continual languaging referring to a simultaneous process of continuously becoming ourselves and of our language practices, as we interact and make meaning in the world (ibid). Moreover, bilinguals are understood as language users who have a linguistic repertoire consisting of various linguistic features that are formerly categorized as different socially constructed languages, rather than individuals who at least acquire two isolated language systems. Therefore, the view of EFL learners has alternated from deficient FL learners to emergent bilingual learners who are at different points along the bilingual continuum (Sano, 2018). Furthermore, linguistic competence is the ability of bilinguals to draw on those features and practices stored in their linguistic repertoire to make meaning and interactions with others and the world. Researchers and teachers who hold the translanguaging view of bilingual education begin to view bi-/multilinguals’ linguistic repertoire in its own right and not through the lens of monolingual norms.

There has been some empirical research of translanguaging on L2 writing. For example, Canagarajah (2011) derived general and useful translanguaging pedagogical strategies to help students further develop their writing skills and express their full meaning. The results showed that the translangugaing strategies in the written text were of 4 types: recontextualization, voicing, interactional and textualization strategies, through which the writer can question her choices, think critically about diverse options, assess the effectiveness of her choices and develop metacognitive awareness. Velasco and García (2014) identified four ways in which translanguaging was used in English writing: using multilingual repertoires, inserting glosses in the text to support vocabulary acquisition, word retrieval, and rhetorical function. García and Kano (2014) examined the linguistic behavior of ten Japanese bilingual writers under a translanguaging condition. Cavazos (2016) investigated how translingual oral and written literacy practices served as rhetorical tools of language self-awareness, identity construction, and negotiations of language differences. Musanti and Rodríguez (2017) explored translanguaging practices of pre-service bilingual teachers in academic writing. Sano (2018) investigated how translanguaging in pre-writing discussions influences the production of Japanese students’ English writing. Chen et al. (2019) examined how college English majors utilized translanguaging, including home languages, target language, and online tools, to produce writing of better quality. Turnbull (2019) investigated the effects of weak and strong forms of translanguaging in the planning stage on the production of Japanese EFL students’ academic and creative composition pieces. Barbour and Lickorish (2020) conducted an empirical study on facilitating multilingualism in the primary classroom through translingual creative writing, which involves mixing two or more languages.

In recent years, there has been a greater focus placed on translanguaging within the language education literature, which has led to a growing number of studies on translanguaging. Nevertheless, while a majority of studies paid attention to the use of translanguaging in language learners’ oral development in L2 classrooms, only a few explored translanguaging practices in learners’ L2 writing process (Tai & Li, 2021). In summary, the literature exploring translanguaging practices in teaching EFL writing is rare (Sun & Zhang, 2022). Studies rarely analyzed the effects of translanguaging in the post-writing stage, especially in writing feedback, and this gap in research was a strong motivation for this study. This study aims to explore the effects of translanguaging in tutors’ OCF. Accordingly, it mainly tries to find answers to the following question: What are the effects of translanguaging in OCF on the production of general English writing?

The study

Setting and participants

This study was conducted in six-week writing tutorials for university students’ English argumentative writing in China. The writing tutorials were designed to familiarize students with the features, structures and writing methods of English argumentative essays. The aim is to help students master the construction paradigm, writing skills and language features of argumentative writing and to lay a good foundation for their advanced academic writing and future professional communication. The study was carried out online via Tencent Meeting (a video conferencing software), and the tutorials were recorded. In total, there were nine meetings (3 groups/3 times), each lasting for one hour and a half.

A total of 12 first-year English majors from a comprehensive university in central China volunteered to participate in this research. The 12 students were randomly divided into three groups. They were all native Chinese speakers and intermediate EFL learners, aged between 18 and 20. Most of them have been learning English for approximately 10 years. Their English scores in the College Entrance Examination were very close, as well as their English writing scores in final exam of the first semester in the university. In short, these participants are selected because of their similar ages, identity as Chinese EFL learners at the same tertiary institution, similar English educational background, and homogeneous level of English writing proficiency.


The materials of the study were three argumentative writing tasks (adapted from Jiang & Niu, 2018).

  • Task 1 Definition Essay Writing

  • Definition is frequently employed in conversation. In conversation, our interlocutor must define some terms or concepts to make what is said understood. In written communication, we also need to clarify a term or a notion to convey our meaning. The term or notion can be defined briefly, as in a dictionary, or in an extended way through a paragraph or an essay. Students should show their own understandings of “fandom culture” and write an essay of approximately 500 words to define it. They can choose three or four perspectives to support their thesis statements, develop each perspective into a topic sentence and make sure each paragraph clearly reflects their stances.

  • Task 2 Classification Essay Writing

  • Classification is a common method used to describe people or things. It is the separation of smaller concepts from a larger concept and the arrangement of these smaller concepts into easily recognized groups. In addition to expository, writers may adopt a different approach to categorization from a perspective undiscovered by their audience to reveal a novel aspect of the world to support their sentimental point of view. Students need to write a classification essay of approximately 500 words to classify “discrimination”. They can select an appropriate perspective (generally accepted, original, or even ironic) for their classifications, divide the subject matter into categories, and make sure all the categories follow a single organizing principle.

  • Task 3 Illustration Essay Writing

  • Illustration is the use of evidence to make ideas more concrete and generalizations more specific and detailed. It enables writers not only to tell but also to show what they mean. In an essay, evidence is used to clarify or support a thesis; in a paragraph, it is used to clarify or support a topic or sub-topic sentence. Students are required to write an essay of approximately 600 words with “On Tutoring” as part of the title. Two excerpts on private tutoring are provided. Students can write their responses, in which they should summarize the main messages in the excerpts, and express their opinions on the issue, especially on whether private tutoring should be promoted or prohibited.

Data collection and analysis

As part of the writing tasks, students completed a sequential series of tasks including (1) writing the first draft of an essay; (2) providing written feedback on peers’ essays; (3) writing the second drafts after peer feedback; (4) receiving tutor’s oral feedback on their own essays; (5) writing the third draft; (6) receiving tutor’s written feedback; and (7) writing the final draft (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1
figure 1

Essay writing and feedback stages

To evaluate the quality of essay writing, the scoring rubric was used as a reference (see “Appendix”). The rubric was derived and adapted from Celce-Murcia, Brinton and Snow (2014). The chart consists of two criteria involving content, organization, clarity and grammar, mechanics, format.

Interactive discourse data were collected during one complete unit of discussion on the writing activity in nine tutorial sessions at a language center of the university. The students revised the relevant parts of writing that needed to be polished according to the feedback. They worked in a group of three with a tutor. The tutorials were recorded. Each session lasted for approximately one hour and a half. Therefore, the study collected 13.5 h of recordings.

Initially, the researcher transcribed the spoken discourse data and identified all instances of translanguaging episodes. After that, the translanguaging episodes were coded with reference to the specific corrective strategies. To help identify and understand the data, the researcher drew from previously established categories and features in the literature (Lyster & Ranta, 1997). Six possible kinds of corrective strategies were cataloged from the transcriptions: explicit correction, recast, clarification request, metalinguistic clues, elicitation and repetition. The definition and elaboration of each category is listed as follows:

  1. 1.

    Explicit correction. Clearly indicating that the student’s writing was incorrect, the teacher provides the correct form.

  2. 2.

    Recast. Without directly indicating that the student’s writing was incorrect, the teacher implicitly reformulates the student’s error or provides the correction.

  3. 3.

    Clarification request. By using phrases such as “Excuse me?” or “I don’t understand,” the teacher indicates that the message has not been understood or that the student’s utterance contained some kind of mistake and that repetition or reformulation is needed.

  4. 4.

    Metalinguistic clues. Without providing the correct form, the teacher poses questions or provides comments or information related to the formation of the student’s utterance (for example, “Do we say it like that?” “That’s not how you say it in Chinese.”).

  5. 5.

    Elicitation. The teacher directly elicits the correct form from the student by asking questions (e.g., “How do we say that in Chinese?”), by pausing to allow the student to complete the teacher’s utterance (e.g., “It’s a….”) or by asking students to reformulate the utterance (e.g., “Say that again.”). Elicitation questions differ from questions that are defined as metalinguistic clues in that they require more than a yes/no response.

  6. 6.

    Repetition. The teacher repeats the student’s error and adjusts intonation to draw the student’s attention to it.

To verify the coding, inter-rater consistency was conducted for all recordings. The researchers and an additional rater reached 90% agreement on all corrective strategies. Disagreements were resolved by reviewing the operational definitions and discussions for each corrective strategy.

Findings and discussion

Translanguaging in negotiation of meaning in OCF

Translanguaging in negotiation of meaning arose when the participants managed to figure out the exact linguistic form of English with the scaffold of Chinese when they were literally producing L2 writing.

  • Excerpt 1 (Clarifying the meaning at the word level)

  • T: “Sacrifice the quality in order to have less of an impact on their wallets”. Are you suggesting that they do something unethical?

  • S1: I mean 生活品质降低(reduce their quality of life).

  • T: Oh, 生活品质降低(reduce their quality of life), “the quality of” in this place, I didn’t know whether you are talking about his character or his quality of life. “The quality of” here is slightly ambiguous, isn’t it? When I was looking at this “quality”, I didn’t know you were talking about the quality of life, you could say “will reduce the quality of life”.

This transcript shows that when the student is trying to produce a word during writing, his or her mother language repertoire can support him or her in reaching the goal. The tutor used repetition by repeating “生活品质降低”, and she also used explicit correction by indicating incorrect use of words and providing the correct form to the student.

At first, S1 failed to figure out a more proper word to refer to the meaning of life quality. However, with her Chinese language repertoire, she realized that there is a Chinese synonym “生活品质”, and she soon associated the Chinese word with the spelling of its corresponding English word “quality”.

The need for beautifying compositions prompted translanguaging and motivated the student to reach her purpose efficiently. From this excerpt, we can see that the students use their first language to associate with the second language to figure out a target word and cope with difficulties in spelling with the help of her comprehension in the original Chinese word when the need for beautification is stimulated. Sometimes the lack of vocabulary or unfamiliarity with certain words will cause barriers in written production, which affects the fluency and accuracy of students’ writing, but students will turn to translanguaging, which enables them to make a bridge to target words with the aid of the Chinese language repertoire and finally increase the lexical variation or lexical complexity of their compositions.

This process is a close interaction between two languages aiming to construct meaning and understanding toward target languages. What actually exerts an important role in this process is the linguistic repertoire, which refers to translingual communication between languages. The student, on the basis of her understanding of one concept in Chinese, figured out and eventually deepened the understanding of the corresponding word in English.

The use of bilingual resources maximized her chances of communicating through her written texts. She chose from her linguistic repertoires to solve problems in constructing English and Chinese texts. This corroborates Hornberger’s (2005, p. 607) assertions that “bi/multilinguals’ learning is maximized when they are allowed and enabled to draw from across all their existing language skills rather than being constrained and inhibited from doing so by monolingual instructional assumptions and practices”. This choice of languages also indexes a disruption of language hierarchies and monolingual habitus ideologies in multilingual settings.

  • Draft & Revision 1

  • Draft: As a result, fans, especially young adolescents who are not financially independent, will sacrifice the quality in order to have less of an impact on their wallets in supporting their idols, or impolitely demand that their parents should buy the advertising products for them.

  • Revision: As a result, fans, especially young adolescents who are not financially independent, will sacrifice their quality of life to support their idols or impolitely demand that their parents buy the advertising products for them.

From the comparison of S1’s draft and revision, we can see that the translanguaging in tutor’s feedback has a positive effect on students’ argumentative writing. It helps S1 use Chinese to recall English words and improve their clarity in meaning-making.

  • Excerpt 2 (Clarifying the meaning at the sentence level)

  • T: And then, you see, “on the one hand…” and then “on the other hand…”. I think it refers to two aspects of the same problem, one saying the past and the other saying the present, it’s better not to use, it’s not two sides of the same coin, it’s the past and the present, so I think you need to change this conjunction.

  • S2: I don’t know, on the one hand, 就改成firstly……secondly……就可以吧(maybe we can change it to first… secondly… maybe it’s okay).

  • T: I don’t think you should use “Firstly”, “Secondly”, “Recently”, maybe you can use “In the past”, “Currently”, “Recently”.

  • S2: However, that’s the first point. In the first point, I mentioned some differences between the past and the present.

  • T: Well, I feel like you’re using first… secondly… it’s a matter of time, it’s not that kind of split-point thing, in fact, if you just divide it by time, I think it would be pretty clear.

  • S2: However, in terms of time, what about the third point?

  • T: Well, so you might have a problem with your previous classification, so these three points are not juxtaposed, past, present, is this the third point? What’s more…

  • S2: Yeah, 我当初想的分类不是按时间来分的, 我当时想的是, 第一个用它们的历史和现在的对比来定义它, 第二个说它的表现很差, 然后第三点说他们可能会给自身带来不便, 这三点(I did not want to categorize them chronologically, I wanted to define them in terms of their history versus present, the second said they performed poorly, and the third said they might be inconvenient for themselves, these three points).

  • T: 但是这三点其实是不并列的, 你有没有发现, 感觉不太好定义, 有一个同学的好像蛮清晰的, 他在开头和结尾都对这个进行了定义, 他给了两个定义happiness is our positive attitudes toward life, 然后这个又是happiness can be easily attained, 在不同人的眼里, 这个东西它意味着什么, 然后这样并列的话还是可以的(However, these three points are not truly sided by side, have you noticed, it is not easy to define, let me see, there was one other student, it seems to be quite clear, he defines it at the beginning and at the end, he gives two definitions of happiness, one is our positive attitudes toward life, and the other is happiness can be easily attained, in different people’s eyes, what this thing means, and then it can be parallel like this).

Textual cohesion refers to the linguistic features that relate sentences to one another. According to the data, participants have used translanguaging in OCF for improving textual cohesion, which was specifically displayed in the modifications of logical connectors.

Excerpt 2 suggests a mismatch between connective devices in Chinese and English and explains in part why Chinese students have challenges making connections between ideas. The tutor used explicit correction in this excerpt. Tutor and S2, by extracting language resources from linguistic repertoires, which refers here to the usage of logical connectors in the Chinese language, applied this kind of language sense to the OCF.

Expressions of logical connection are often not expressed in words but derived from contextual inferences. The finding above concurs with earlier findings in Uysal’s (2008) study that non-mother tongue students tend to create obscure, unclear sentence logic. In this circumstance, ways of meaning-making are language specific.

  • Draft & Revision 2

  • Draft: On the one hand, though fandom is crazy now, in the past, it is not… On the other hand, their daily actions are crazy.

  • Revision: First, although fandom is now crazy, in the past, it wasn’t… Second, what they usually do is crazy.

According to the excerpt and the draft & revision above, we can see that translanguaging in OCF gives assistance to group members’ logical expression, and the use of Chinese helps to move the discussion forward.

  • Excerpt 3 (Clarifying the meaning at the paragraph level)

  • S3: 因为我看我们书上写的definition范围就是, 定义它写的就是它的历史怎么样, 然后就写了它的行为, 然后作为参照我就这么写了(Because I saw in our book that the definition is, the definition is the history, and then I wrote the behavior, and then I wrote that as a reference).

  • T: 那你就可以说第一段是它的history, 你就不要说过去、现在这样子, 直接说是fandom的history, 然后第二部分就是说它的现象, 也就说这个fandom的phenomenon, 到底是什么样的现象, 你就按这样, 你就按历史、现象这样, 这样的话是可以定义的, 你就在topic sentence里边点明一下, 就说得更清楚一点, 我觉得还好一些(So you can say the first paragraph is its history, you shouldn’t say the past or the present, you can say it’s the history of fandom, and then the second part is its phenomenon, that is, the phenomenon of fandom, what kind of phenomenon it is, you just wrote this way, according to the history, the phenomenon like this, such words can be defined, just say more clearly, I feel it will be better).

  • S3: 但是我不是想围绕crazy来讲吗, 围绕crazy来讲的话, 我觉得第一个论点就没有围绕它了, 直接绕过它来讲, 我主要想表达的是根据以往来对比, 他现在非常的crazy这样(However, I want to talk about crazy, I don’t think the first argument is about crazy, I want to talk about the comparison between past and future).

  • T: 嗯, 其实你就可以把topic sentence改一下, 其他后面不用改就行了, 也就是说你第一段是要讲它的发展经历这样子, 然后你再说它的过去, 你就内容不变, 你就是改一个topic sentence, 然后让它去形成一种并列关系(Well, as a matter of fact, you can change the topic sentence, but you don’t have to change the rest of the sentence, that is, you should first tell us about its development, and then you can tell us about its past, and let it form a paratactic relationship).

Textual coherence refers to the relations of meaning between individual units of a text, which allows a text to be logical and semantically consistent. It arises from the relationship between the underlying ideas of a text, together with the logical organization and development of the text, and is achieved with adequate structuring and organization of the content. The students were inclined to improve their textual coherence in the post-writing process.

In Excerpt 3, the tutor used metalinguistic clues; without providing the correct form, the teacher provided comments and information related to the formation of the student’s writing. Excerpt 3 shows that translanguaging was also used in OCF to improve textual coherence. The improvement of textual coherence was based on the understanding of the whole text and on the sense of language. S3 chose to translate a sentence that might be problematic into Chinese to deepen the understanding of the sentences and to determine the problem. Apparently, the role of the mother tongue is irreplaceable because the sense of the mother tongue usually overwhelms the sense of the second language. In these cases, the students, through linguistic repertoire, further the understanding of the sentence and construct the whole meaning again.

According to the results, translanguaging in OCF plays a main role in improving the cohesion and coherence of L2 writing. To revise the essay, students tended to review their writing text utilizing Chinese, or more specifically, linguistic repertoires from the Chinese language. When they produced a sentence, they did not realize the problem. However, after a second reading and thinking about the improvement by using Chinese, they soon determined the problem and solved it. The results confirm the argument that both languages are used in a dynamic and functionally integrated manner to organize and mediate mental processes in understanding, speaking, literacy, and, not least, learning (Lewis et al., 2012).

  • Draft & Revision 3

  • Draft: Nowadays, a new type of organization——fandom, is gradually rising. So, here is a question. What is Fandom? Fandom is an organization made up of a group of people who share a common interest and the members of it called fangirls. They are willing to do anything they can do for their idols. Now, let’s see the development of fandom.

  • Revision: Currently, a new type of organization—fandom—is gradually becoming popular. Therefore, here is a question. What is Fandom? Fandom is an organization consisting of a group of people who share a common interest, and the members of it are called fangirls. They are willing to do anything they can do for their idols. Now, let us see the development of fandom. Sounds crazy? Yes, now they are crazy, what they usually do is crazy, and they are likely to be crazier people.

From graft & revision 3, it can be seen that translanguaging in OCF helps students clarify meta-linguistic discourse and clarify the point of discussion by using Chinese.

Translanguaging in negotiation of form in OCF

The student, by using his or her linguistic knowledge and language sensibility, makes a link between the original English grammatical form and Chinese grammar.

  • Excerpt 4 (Noticing the form about sentence structure)

  • S4: On top of that那一段给我的第二个批注, 然后 others in charge of making doujin work about their idols这句话前面, 我用了一个逗号, 因为我觉得后面这句话不能单独成段, 所以我就没有加一个are, 是不是我应该把逗号改成句号, 然后再单独另起一句(“On top of that”, the second comment, “and then in charge of others of making doujin work about their idols”, I used a comma before this sentence, because I didn’t think it could be a paragraph, so I didn’t add a “are”, should I change the comma to a full stop and start a separate sentence?)

  • T: No, the verb “are” cannot be omitted, you have no be verb here, right?

  • S4: However, if you use a comma, and there are no conjunctions here, 我觉得它是不能单独成句的, 所以做一个独立主格的样子(I don’t think it can be made into a sentence alone, so I make it stand alone).

  • T: Some are in charge of taking, revising and sending photos, Some, the others…

  • S4: 那我还是按照你这样, 就是单独成句, 然后加上be动词吗?(Therefore, I’m going to do what you did, which is make a separate sentence and add the be verb?)

  • T: 不是, 你就这样连, 这个地方也加一个are, 也就是some are in charge of taking……, 然后some are in charge of……, 你这个地方也要加be动词(No, you just add an “are”, “some are in charge of taking…”, then “some are in charge of…”, you add a be verb to this place).

The tutor first used explicit correction, and then she used recast. She pointed out the student’s writing was incorrect (i.e., “The verb “are” cannot be omitted…”). Then, the tutor implicitly reformulated the student’s error and provided the correction in the dialog later by adopting recast, without directly indicating that the student’s writing was incorrect. (i.e., “Some are in charge of taking, revising and sending photos, Some, the others…”).

The grammatical error was made because of a direct transfer from Chinese expression. Apparently, S4 used her knowledge from the linguistic repertoire to provide resources to be written in writing.

As her mother tongue, Chinese exerted significant influence during the process of her writing. The understanding of the Chinese expression of S4 affected her knowledge of the corresponding expression in English. However, she was unconscious of the error for not aware of the distinctions between the two languages. Indeed, a translingual process happened in her mind that S4 extracted resources from linguistic repertoire but only in Chinese repertoire, then according to her own understanding, finally constructed the sentence. However, most L2 writers perform mental translation when they write in a new language: they think in L1 and translate their thoughts into L2. It is easier to work on translation errors or revise a content-rich paper than to help someone believe. Translanguaging in OCF here can be beneficial to enhancing students’ understanding and learning of grammar, encouraging learner participation.

  • Excerpt 5 (Noticing the form about spelling and mechanics)

  • S4: Do I need to change the comma?

  • T: 你觉得我们在英语写作中会这样用吗?(Do you think we can use that in English writing?)

  • S4: 据我所知, 英语不是这样的(With all I know now, it doesn’t seem to work in English.) There can only be a main clause, a verb or something.

  • T: No, this is a coordinate sentence, not a clause, so you can’t leave out the be verb.

  • S4: Oh, so the comma can still be used?

  • T: Yes, you have to add the verb “be in charge…”, then your comma is the Chinese comma, and you have to use the English comma.

  • S4: Does it make a difference?

  • T: Of course,它是全角和半角的(it is full-angle and half-angle).

  • S4: Oh, yeah.

Excerpt 5 is also a conversation between the tutor and S4, and the tutor used the strategy of metalinguistic clues here by asking S4, “Do you think we can use that in English writing?”, which helped S4 develop her background knowledge in her academic learning. Translanguaging in OCF helps S4 know how to use the appropriate comma in English essay writing. Students first have to become familiar with academic writing styles in their first language: read and write enough to develop their academic writing ability, or it doubles cognitive demands when they have to learn to write in an unfamiliar writing style in a newly developing way language. They should become familiar with academic writing styles in their first language through reading and writing academic work in L1.

  • Draft & Revision 4

  • Draft: On top of that, fans support their idols in different ways. Some are in charge of taking, revising and sending photos, some in charge of controlling people’s comments on their idol, others in charge of making doujin work about their idols.

  • Revision: Second, fans support their idols in different ways. Some are in charge of taking, revising and sending photos, others are in charge of controlling people’s comments on their idols’ Weibo, and others are in charge of making derivative works about their idols.

The draft & revision above is S4’s writing before and after the OCF (Excerpts 4 and 5). It shows that translanguaging in OCF gives students better understanding of grammatical or syntactical rules and makes learners pay more attention to spelling and format in L2 writing.


The study shows that translanguaging in OCF can help students produce a larger number of content words and have a higher rate of accuracy in grammar production. In addition, how translanguaging contributes to promoting OCF and then has a certain positive effect on the production of Chinese intermediate EFL learners’ argumentative writing is illustrated by its major functions: group members’ vocabulary assistance; using Chinese to recall English words or looking English words up in the English-Chinese dictionary; using Chinese to move the discussion forward; clarifying meta-linguistic discourse and clarifying the point of discussion using Chinese. It can be beneficial to enhancing understanding and learning, encouraging learner participation, establishing comprehension and so on. Overall, this research confirms the positive effect of translanguaging in OCF on Chinese intermediate students’ argumentative writing in terms of content and grammar.

It is essential for us to understand translanguaging as a unitary repertoire, as well as a decolonizing stance, as tutors have given up on the focus on named standardized languages. With this understanding, tutors can use their initiative and autonomy to develop effective and inclusive teaching practices for language classrooms. (Li, 2022; Li & García, 2022) Thus, tutors should accept and even encourage Chinese EFL students to use translanguaging in English writing class. First, they do not need to know all the students’ language but need to provide space and resources and help students learn and work with each other. Tutors are co-learners rather than sole knowledge givers or language teachers in this community. Second, they need to engage students by creating a multilingual learning environment to maximize all students’ learning potentials and engage all students actively participating in reading, speaking and writing activities (being translators and interpreters). Third, they need to highlight students’ expertise and background knowledge and let them play an important role in leading us to know about their cultures and their languages and to help them initiate new knowledge, new language and new world.

Concerning the pedagogical implications, the present study can shed some light on language policy and planning (LPP). In particular, it will provide some enlightenment to the medium of instruction (MOI) policy and the use of multiple linguistic codes in foreign language classrooms. In the EFL writing context of China, translanguaging in oral corrective feedback can help overrule the singular language dominance and thus contribute to the decolonizing LPP. This research prompts policymakers to recognize translanguaging as an empowering tool for promoting linguistic diversity in language classrooms and maximizing language users’ full linguistic and semiotic resources in knowledge construction. We should not only allow students to use English in classrooms but also systematically design lessons to create space for translanguaging: students can choose to read, respond, discuss in small groups, draft in any languages, while the teacher reads, responds, recasts, explains, translates, and writes in Chinese or the target language. Students should have access to bilingual/multilingual books, reading materials, word walls, dictionaries, or Google translation programs in classrooms. Lesson objectives, key vocabulary/phrases, essential questions, study guide, and group discussion questions can be in bilingual/multilingual languages.

The study has limitations, such as the small sample size of participants and the focus on argumentative writing. Further study could enroll a larger number of students and focus on their development of competence on various genres of writing, such as description and exposition. Another limitation is the language proficiency of the participants, i.e., only intermediate EFL learners were chosen. Therefore, future research could carry out studies on a larger scale involving high-/low-language proficiency students. In addition, the interaction patterns between the teacher and students may influence the effect of translanguaging practice in OCF. Thus, this should also be taken into consideration. Last but not least, the present study involves a three-week investigation with three writing tasks so that future research may examine the longitudinal effects of a translanguaging approach across a whole semester on learners’ EFL writing.



Corrective feedback episodes


English as a Foreign Language


First language


Second language


Oral corrective feedback


Second language


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We appreciate the anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments on the earlier draft of this manuscript. We also thank Dr. Wen Zhisheng for his advice on this paper. Our gratitude also goes to the teachers and students who participated in the study. We have written our paper ourselves, without resorting to any editorial service, so the requirement regarding this item is “not applicable”.


This work was supported by the Humanities and Social Science Research Foundation of Chinese Ministry of Education (Grant number: 19YJA740025) and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities in China (Wuhan University, Grant Number: 2020AI006, 1103-413000094).

Author information

Authors and Affiliations



YW collected the data, analyzed the data and wrote the first draft. DL conceptualized the design of the study, helped with data processing and analysis, and acquired the funding. Both authors revised the subsequent versions of the manuscript prior to its submission. Both authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Author’s information

Yibei Wang is an MPhil student in the English Department of the School of Foreign Languages and Literature, Wuhan University, China. Her research interests include second language learning and teaching and second language acquisition.

Danli Li (Ph.D., Hong Kong Baptist University) is an Associate Professor at the English Department of School of Foreign Languages and Literature, Wuhan University, China. Her research interests include second language learning / acquisition from Sociocultural perspectives, language policy in education, teacher development, and cross-cultural communication.

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Correspondence to Danli Li.

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The scoring rubric


Detailed rules


Content, organization, and clarity

A topic sentence (a sentence that tells the main idea) is supported with specific content points in the paragraph


All the sentences relate to the main idea and are in logical order


Ideas are clearly presented


Specific examples and enough information are provided in the paragraph


Grammar, mechanics, and format

Sentence structure

Complete sentences (subject and verb)

Correct use of capital letters and periods (.) to divide sentences

Other grammar for the level/assignment

Correct word order

Correct word forms: nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, plurals, pronouns (subject, object, possessive)

Correct use of verbs


Indents the first line of the paragraph and uses the correct format for other lines

Spelling and punctuation

Correct spelling and approapriate use of punctuations

  1. (adapted from Celce-Murcia et al., 2014)

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Wang, Y., Li, D. Translanguaging pedagogy in tutor’s oral corrective feedback on chinese EFL learners’ argumentative writing. Asian. J. Second. Foreign. Lang. Educ. 7, 33 (2022).

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  • Chinese EFL learners
  • Argumentative writing
  • Oral corrective feedback
  • Translanguaging pedagogy