Levels of Language Awareness and Metalinguistic Training

Josep M. Cots  (Universitat de Lleida)

Ester Baiget   (Universitat de Lleida)

Enric Llurda   (Universitat de Lleida)

Elisabet Arnó  (Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya)

EUPVG (Secció d’Anglès)

Av. Víctor Balaguer, sn

08800 Vilanova i la Geltrú (Barcelona) SPAIN


This paper presents the results of a study comparing the performance of two groups of subjects on a task requiring different levels of language awareness. The subjects, university students, have been first selected on the basis of their academic orientation, and they have been classified according to whether their major involved metalinguistic training or not. Besides the variable of academic orientation, other variables have been controlled by means of a placement test and a questionnaire on their language background, training and different aspects that were thought to be relevant to explain their performance.

The first goal of the project is to put the test the proposal of scholars like Schmidt (1995) and van Lier (1996) that it is possible to identify different levels or types of consciousness. To do this, a task was devised in which subjects had to respond to questions related to the five levels of language awareness proposed by van Lier (1998). The second goal of the project was to obtain some empirical proof of the influence of specific metalinguistic training with a professional orientation on the subjects’ capacity to reflect upon different levels of language.

The experiment carried involved two stages. The first one consisted of a qualitative analysis of the transcribed recording obtained in two group-work sessions in which three English majors and three Engineering majors respectively tried to resolve the task proposed. The second part of the experiment involved a similar task but to be done individually and in written form, thereby allowing possible quantitative conclusions.


-Schmidt, R. 1995. Consciousness and foreign language learning. In Schmidt, R. (ed.) Attention and Awareness in Foreign Language Learning. University of Hawai’i at Manoa: Second Language Teaching and Curriculum Center, 1-63.

- van Lier, L. 1996. Interaction in the Language Curriculum: Awareness, Autonomy and Authenticity. London: Longman.

- van Lier, L. 1998. The relationship between consciousness, interaction and language learning. Language Awareness, 7, 2&3: 128-145.