Language Acquisition Thesis

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¶ … Second Language Acquisition

Metacognitive Listening Strategies

The objective of this work is to answer the question of whether metacognitive learning strategies assist in the SLA of listening comprehension. Metacognitive listening strategies have been a source of recent discussion, although this has been historically noted there is a large gap in the research that focuses on the success of language learners in employing strategical metacognitive listening to second language learning comprehension. This work notes the work of Vandergrift et al. (2006) in their development of the 'Metacognitive Awareness Listening Questionnaire' as well as other primary researchers in this field of study including that of Cohen and Macaro (2007, as well as others.


The work of Karen a. Carrier entitled: "Improving High School English Language Learners' Second Language Listening through Strategy Instruction" reports a study in which the theoretical framework was based on "cognitive theory and strategy research." (Carrier,Download full
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TOPIC: Thesis on Language Acquisition Assignment

Carrier states that this theory supports the idea that the learner is "actively involved in the learning process." (2003) Strategies are one of the ways "learners become actively involved in controlling their own learning..." (Carrier, 2003) Strategies are the "...thoughts and behaviors that learners use to help them comprehend, learn, or retain information." (Carrier, 2003) Carrier relates that the work of Pressley, Forrest-Pressley, Elliot-Faust and Miller (1985) linked strategies to cognitive processes and "define strategies as 'composed of cognitive operations over and above the processes that are a natural consequence of carrying out a task...Strategies are used to achieve cognitive purposes and are potentially conscious and controllable activities." (Carrier, 2003) in other words, the learner that is an active learner makes a conscious choice to utilize strategies in order to better their performance of a task. Listening is a critical aspect of the second language learning process and has further been defined as "an active process during which the listener constructs meaning from oral input." (Carrier, 2003) Carrier additionally states of metacognitive knowledge that it is "...understanding when and where to apply strategies and the gains produced by strategies when used" and cites the work of McCormick & Pressley (1997).

The work of Vandergrift entitled: "Facilitating Second Language Listening Comprehension: Acquiring Successful Strategies" states that listening comprehension 'is anything but a passive activity' indeed, according to Vandergrift, it is a "complex, active process in which the listener must discriminate between sounds, understand vocabulary and grammatical structure, interpret stress and intonation, retain what was gathered in all of the above, and interpret it within the immediate as well as the larger sociocultural context of the utterance." (1999) the coordination of all of this in inclusive of mental activity to a great extent on the listener's part. Since listening is hard work, Vandergrift stated that it "deserves more analysis and support." (1999) Vandergrift states that learning comprehension." a separate and important component of language learning only came into focus after significant debate about its validity." Vandergrift notes the work of Gary (1975) who, in relation to area learning "provides advantages of four different types:

1) Cognitive;

2) Efficiency;

3) Utility; and 4) Affective. (1999)

Stated as the cognitive advantage of first emphasizing comprehension via listening is stated to be "its respect for a more natural way to learn a language. To place speaking before listening, as advocated by the audio-lingual method is to 'put the cart before the horse." (Vandergrift, 1999) the processing and decoding of input that is auditory in nature makes a requirement of recognition knowledge however, encoding and speech generation output makes a requirement of retrieval knowledge.

Cognitive overload occurs from requiring that learners "produce what is not yet assimilated in long-term memory..." explaining why it is that when students initially begin language learning difficulty is experienced in "listening for accurate meaning and learning to produce correct sounds at the same time." (Vandergrift, 1999) Short-term memory is not capable of keeping all of this information and the concentration applied to speaking does not leave very much room for listening and even less for comprehension of what is being heard. Vandergrift states that the efficiency advantage is closely related to the cognitive advantage and states that language learning "can be more efficient if learners are not immediately required to produce all the language material to which they are exposed." (1999)

The usefulness of the receptive skills or what is termed the "utility advantage" is related by Vandergrift who states that research has demonstrated that adults spend approximately one-half of their time in communication listening, twenty-five to thirty percent speaking, only eleven to sixteen percent reading and only nine percent in writing. Vandergrift states that it only follows that language learners "will make greater use of comprehension skills." (1999) the final advantage stated by Vandergrift related to the emphasis on listening comprehension is that of the "psychological advantage." (1999) Upon having eliminated this factor and removal of the factor of early oral production in the form of pressure and resulting in potential embarrassment it is possible for the learners to "relax and focus on developing the listening skills, and on internalizing the rules which will facilitate the emergence of the other skills. Moreover, listening comprehension results in earlier achievement and a sense of success." (Vandergrift, 1999) Listening comprehension is stated to result in "earlier achievement and a sense of success." (Vandergrift, 1999)

Vandergrift states that it is important to develop prelistening strategies and specifically stated is that "the pedagogical sequence of pre-listening, listening and post-listening activities is not new. However, if used consistently, this sequence of teaching strategies can guide students through the mental processes for successful listening comprehension and promote the acquisition of metacognitive strategies in three categories:

1) Planning;

2) Monitoring; and 3) Evaluating. (Vandergrift, 1999)

Vandergrift relates that during the listening activity students need to continually evaluate what they are making comprehension of for:

1) Consistency with their predictions; and 2) Internal consistency or the ongoing interpretation of the oral text or interaction. (Vandergrift, 1999)

Teacher intervention during this phase is stated by Vandergrift to be "virtually impossible, because of the ephemeral nature of listening." (1999) in summary, Vandergrift states that placing an emphasis on listening comprehension along with applying listening strategies will assist students in capitalizing on the language input they are receiving and for the students to have a greater level of success in learning a second language.


The work of Vandergrift, et al. entitled: "The Metacognitive Awareness Listening Questionnaires: Development and Validation" reports the development and validation of a listening questionnaire which was specifically designed to assess second language listeners' "...metacognitive awareness and perceived use of strategies while listening to oral texts." (2006) Vandergrift, et al. state that "attention in listening comprehension research in increasingly being directed at learner's self-reports of their understanding and awareness of the processes involved in listening in another language." (2006) the argument has been stated that "awareness of strategies and other variables in learning can have positive influences on language leaner's listening development." (Vandergrift, et al., 2006) This evidence resulted in the development of a questionnaire that was specially designed for making assessment of the awareness of second language learner's as well as their "perceived use of listening strategies." (Vandergrift, et al., 2006)

The Metacognitive Awareness Listening Questionnaire (MALQ)." designed for researchers and instructors to assess the extent to which language learners are aware of and can regulate the process of second language listening comprehension." (Vandergrift, et al., 2006) Additionally the MALQ also serves as a type of "self-assessment instrument that learners can use to appraise their awareness of the listening process and to reflect on their strategy use when listening to texts" in the second language. (Vandergrift, et al., 2006) Vandergrift, et al. (2006) describe the theoretical framework of their study by stating that the design is upon the framework of theoretical model of metacognition "a construct that refers to thinking about one's thinking or the human ability to be conscious of one's mental processes." These authors state that this involves a "notion of the mind 'consistent with information-processing accounts of declarative and procedural knowledge, and captures two essential feature of metacognition - self-appraisal and self-management of cognition." (Paris & Winograd; as cited in Vandergrift, et al., 2006)

Cognitive self-appraisals are stated to be 'static judgments' since the process makes a requirement that the individual "assess their knowledge of ability in hypothetical situations." (Vandergrift, et al., 2006) Cognitive self-management is described as: "...metacognition in action" it enables an individual to orchestrate different mental process during problem solving." (Vandergrift, et al., 2006) the MALQ was developed through use of Flavell's (1979) model of metacognitive knowledge, which is described by Flavell as "that segment of your stored world knowledge that has to do with people as cognitive creatures and with their diverse cognitive tasks, goals, actions and experiences." (as cited in Vandergrift, et al., 2006) the metacognitive knowledge includes as well belief concerning factors "present in learning and the way these factors 'act and interact to affect the course and outcome… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Language Acquisition" Thesis in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Language Acquisition.  (2008, October 24).  Retrieved January 16, 2022, from

MLA Format

"Language Acquisition."  24 October 2008.  Web.  16 January 2022. <>.

Chicago Style

"Language Acquisition."  October 24, 2008.  Accessed January 16, 2022.