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Front. Educ., 21 April 2021 |

Book Review: Feedback in Second Language Writing: Contexts and Issues (2nd Edition)

  • 1School of English Studies, Shanghai International Studies University, Shanghai, China
  • 2School of Education, Shanghai International Studies University, Shanghai, China

A Book Review on
Feedback in Second Language Writing: Contexts and Issues (2nd Edition)

Ken Hyland and Fiona Hyland (Cambridge; New York, NY: Cambridge University Press), 2019, 314 pages, ISBN: 978-1-108-42507-0 (hardback), 978-1-108-43997-8 (paperback).

Edited by Ken Hyland and Fiona Hyland, Feedback in Second Language Writing: Contexts and Issues, is a collection of studies that focuses on the key issues relating to feedback by investigating a range of feedback practices in various contexts. It has been over 10 years since its first publication in 2006. The revised edition of the book published in 2019 has succeeded in updating and presenting the latest development and the new research findings in written corrective feedback research. For the sake of the wider readership, we believe it is worthwhile to review the revised book in the sense that it has solidly extended its area of research interest to the links between SLA and feedback research, automated computer feedback, internet resources, and has addressed the use by students of social media as a feedback resource in particular.

Reading through the whole book, four major characteristics of the second edition can be identified. Firstly, it follows up with the latest development in the feedback research. In other words, the newly-added three chapters, namely, chapters 13, 14, and 15, are all about the newly-emerged key issues, to be more specific, student engagement and participation with feedback. Chapter 13 indicates that learners tend to engage with written corrective feedback cognitively, behaviorally, and affectively. Chapter 14 explores the greater alignment between student perception and tutor practice, which could possibly be achieved through dialogue and training; and Chapter 15 discusses the importance of synchronous group writing, which would yield the good effect if students adopt synchronous hands-on strategy. Secondly, it captures the emerging progress of both sociocultural theory and cognitive theory involved in the feedback research. In Chapter 3, Hu reconceptualizes culture as a scalar construct (macro, meso, and micro) and explores its applicability in peer feedback studies. In Chapter 5, Bitchener proposes the theoretical explanations of learners' cognitive processing within and beyond the initial written corrective feedback episode, in order to answer why and how feedback may or may not facilitate L2 writing. Thirdly, the revised book discusses the pros and cons that technology has brought to the feedback practices. Chapter 7 illustrates the strengths and weaknesses of automated writing evaluation system while Chapter 8 demonstrates that technology advance has made it more convenient to organize collaborative writing practices among peers. Fourthly, the revised book explores the supervisory feedback and reviewers' feedback that were not well-explored previously. In Chapter 11, Starfield holds that the aim of written supervisory feedback is not just to promote L2 writing, but more importantly to improve supervision pedagogy and facilitate the formation of new scholars. In Chapter 12, Paltridge suggests that reviewers have to reconsider their stances all the time as an evaluator, commentator, reviewer, and editor.

As stated above, the revised book has made great progress in terms of content and structure. First, its contents have both theoretical and practical values. As to theoretical value, it keeps up with the latest development in feedback research and provides various theoretical frameworks for researchers to conduct future research. Mainly based on sociocultural and sociocognitive theory, research on computer-mediated feedback and student engagement with feedback becomes prevalent due to technology advance and research focus shifted from teacher to student. With respect to practical value, pedagogical implications of each study are mentioned at the end of almost every chapter, which give teachers a clue on how to apply feedback in real teaching practices, especially for online teaching. Second, its structure becomes more reader-friendly because in some chapters, footnotes are added and time order is followed when introducing previous studies in detail. However, it would be more reader-friendly if a conclusion chapter could be added to this book, which could help readers overview the main contents of this book and facilitate their own understanding and practice of feedback in second language writing.

This book should have a broad audience including undergraduate and postgraduate students, teachers, and researchers in TESOL, applied linguistics, composition studies and EAP, as well as anyone who is interested in feedback studies. As researchers, we find this book up-to-date, interesting, well-organized, easy to read, and exceedingly useful and would like to highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in feedback and curious about its recent development.

Author Contributions

XH drafted the review. As XH's supervisor, XZ helped her select the book, provided ideas during her writing and did the revision for the text. Both authors contributed to the article and approved the submitted version.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

Keywords: feedback, second language writing, sociocultural theory, social media, dialogue

Citation: Hu X and Zheng X (2021) Book Review: Feedback in Second Language Writing: Contexts and Issues (2nd Edition). Front. Educ. 6:680809. doi: 10.3389/feduc.2021.680809

Received: 15 March 2021; Accepted: 24 March 2021;
Published: 21 April 2021.

Edited and reviewed by: Xuesong Gao, University of New South Wales, Australia

Copyright © 2021 Hu and Zheng. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

*Correspondence: Xiaohong Hu,; Xinmin Zheng,