The language awareness of the L2 teacher:

its impact upon pedagogical practice

Stephen Andrews

University of Hong Kong


The paper begins by suggesting that there is something unique about the pedagogical content knowledge of the L2 teacher, because the content and medium of L2 instruction are so closely interrelated. A model is proposed, in which the L2 teacherís language awareness (referred to as teacher metalinguistic awareness, or TMA) is seen as a sub-component of pedagogical content knowledge, forming a bridge between knowledge of subject-matter and communicative language ability. The bridge is intended to emphasise the interconnectedness of the L2 teacherís subject-matter knowledge and her communicative language ability, implying that the L2 teacherís content-related reflections and cognitions, and her content-related classroom behaviour involve and are affected by knowledge of subject-matter and communicative language ability in ways that can be quite difficult to separate.

The paper then goes on to consider the role in the instructed learning setting of the L2 teacherís TMA, with specific reference to grammar. First, it is postulated that TMA has a potentially crucial impact on the language teaching/language learning process because of its interaction with the language produced by the three main sources of input for learners : materials, other learners, and the teacher herself. The nature of the impact of TMA on pedagogical practice is then examined, drawing on a variety of qualitative data sources, including observed lessons and semi-structured interviews. These data were gathered as part of a recent in-depth study of the metalinguistic awareness of seventeen teachers of English working in Hong Kong secondary schools.† The results indicate the range of ways in which TMA affects pedagogical practice, and suggest a number of factors which influence the operation of each teacherís metalinguistic awareness.