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The Role of Metalinguistic Awareness

‘‘[Teaching for transfer has] really opened our eyes to the ways that French and English are similar, so we can do something that opens kids’ eyes too.’’-Erin, teacher from AMSFA, 2016


What is the Role of Metalinguistic Awareness in the Transfer of Language Learning?

Metalinguistic awareness, a sub-component of metacognition, is usually defined as the ability to think about languages and how they work. It is a key factor for language development. It allows the learner to compare languages and to view them as systems that feature common and distinct elements. This contrastive analysis and resulting reflection lead to the recognition of connections between aspects of languages and language learning. It fosters positive transfer and helps to avoid negative transfer.  

In the Classroom

Language teachers can enhance their students’ metalinguistic awareness through:

For more information on how to enhance students’ metalinguistic awareness to foster transfer of language learning and examples of hands-on activities for your classroom, refer to The Cycle of Teaching for Transfer.