Reframing Metalinguistic Awareness for Low-Literate L2 Learners: Four Case Studies
Young, Sarah Christine
The present dissertation seeks to expand the notion of metalinguistic awareness by exploring how it relates to L2 literacy and L2 learning, and also what it means to be “low-literate” in adult L2 English acquisition. The data came from an 11-week-long collective case study of four Central American women ranging in age from early 20s to early 60s and in years of formal schooling in their home countries from two and 12 years. These four women were attending an intensive adult ESL program where they spent 30 minutes every day attending a supplemental ESL literacy class. The etic and emic methodological approach connects (1) the instructional context with (2) their observed experiences and behaviors in the literacy classes with (3) their elicited interpretations of those experiences in the L1, pointing to the powerful if often hidden influences of pedagogical, personal, and environmental factors on the development and use of metalinguistic awareness in L2 learning.Metalinguistic awareness has been defined as the ability to reflect on and manipulate language (Gombert, 1992; Jessner, 2006) and, as Bigelow, Tarone, and Hansen (2009) lament, it has been primarily investigated with children developing their L1 literacy and oral skills and with educated adolescents and adults developing L2 literacy and oral skills in formal instructional settings. The theoretical framework of Language Awareness (Svalberg, 2012) and engagement with language (Svalberg, 2009) provided a useful wider lens onto metalinguistic awareness as an analytical construct, and the two-pronged etic and emic exploration uncovered evidence of remarkable metalinguistic awareness and engagement with language among these learners. Overall, the study challenges assumptions about the quality and type of linguistic awareness that low-literate adult learners bring to their English learning experience, allowing us to reframe our notions of these learners as multicompetent (Cook, 2003). It also suggests that metalinguistic awareness is best understood in a broad sociocognitive perspective, one that opens new ground for the conceptualization of the roles that cognitive, affective, and social engagement with language have on metalinguistic awareness and on second language acquisition – particularly for this understudied research population.
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Beginning and advanced learners' awareness of corrective feedback in the Arabic foreign language classroom Atanassova, Gergana (Georgetown University, 2012)Corrective feedback as part of conversational interaction has been shown to facilitate language development (Li, 2010; Russel & Spada, 2006), but learners differ in the extent to which they benefit from it. Awareness is ...