Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA) in English: Teaching English as a Second Language



First Advisor

Tracey McHenry

Second Advisor

LaVona Reeves

Third Advisor

Suzanne Milton


In 1996, a highly influential essay entitled “The Case against Grammar Correction in L2 Writing Class”, by John Truscott of National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan, appeared in the June edition of Language Learning. In his essay, Truscott argued that empirical research, second language acquisition (SLA) theory, and practical concerns show written grammar correction (WCF) in the L2 writing classroom to be both “ineffective” and “harmful,” and that, therefore, it “should be abandoned” (p. 327). Since the time that Truscott originally expressed his concerns, much recent SLA theory and empirical research have indicated the potential efficacy of written corrective feedback (hereafter referred to as WCF) in the L2 writing classroom, and have suggested that, if undertaken prudently, WCF may not entail many of the harmful side-effects theorized by Truscott. Much of the research methodology employed in these studies remains controversial, however. Yet, while the relative effectiveness of various forms of WCF are still uncertain, WCF can and should play a limited role in the L2 writing classroom. How this limited role should be undertaken depends on many factors, but the age of the students, the second language proficiency level of the students, and the country in which the students are studying are all of significance. This thesis emphasizes the distinctions between a university level English as a Second Language (ESL) writing classroom and a university level English as a Foreign Language (EFL) writing classroom. This thesis also recognizes a distinction between WCF aimed at grammatical accuracy improvement and WCF aimed at idiomatic usage, such as word order and word choice, recommending the former and cautioning against the latter. This thesis recognizes that the amount and type of WCF should be manageable for the teacher and self-empowering for the student. This thesis recognizes that written grammatical accuracy improvement should not be the primary objective of the L2 writing class, but can and should play an effective minor role. This thesis advocates Minimal Marking as an effective WCF technique for the advanced proficiency L2 writing classroom and Modified Minimal Marking as an effective WCF technique for the intermediate proficiency L2 writing classroom.