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The Metalinguistic Knowledge of Teacher Trainees: The Role of Teaching Experience and Pedagogical Grammar Courses

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Robert McCord

on 23 January 2013

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Transcript of The Metalinguistic Knowledge of Teacher Trainees: The Role of Teaching Experience and Pedagogical Grammar Courses

The metalinguistic knowledge of teacher trainees: The role of teaching experience and pedagogical grammar courses Background Explicit knowledge is "knowledge about language and about the uses to which language can be put" (Ellis, 2004).

Comparatively, implicit knowledge is intuitive and tacit (Ellis, 2009).

Metalinguistic knowledge (a kind of explicit knowledge) is knowledge about various components of a language, including its morphosyntax, lexis, pragmatics and semantics (Elder, 2009). Background Various studies have shown that a students' metalinguistic knowledge correlates with students' proficiency in the language (Green & Hecht, 1992; Butler, 2002; Elder & Manwaring, 2004; Roehr & Ganem-Gutierrez, 2009; Hu, 2011).

That is, students with higher metalinguistic knowledge have a higher language proficiency and vice-versa.

One study (Alderson et al., 1997) found only low correlations between L2 metalinguistic knowledge and L2 proficiency. Background Some (i.e. Green & Hecht, 1992; Butler, 2002) found that when correcting errors, learners do not need to state the appropriate rule to make an accurate correction.

Likewise, Hu (2011) found that when correcting errors, a metalingual term could be used correctly but an inaccurate correction could be made. Background Many students prefer a classroom in which there is some focus on grammar instruction (Schulz, 1996; Schulz, 2001).

Language learners believe that instruction in grammar aides in the development of their language proficiency (Loewen et al., 2009; Jean & Simard, 2011). Background Despite students' desire for grammar instruction, teachers have noted that voicing their explicit knowledge of grammar can cause a great deal of anxiety (Pomphrey & Moger, 1999).

Teachers with more metalinguistic knowledge are able to make their grammar explanations more intelligible (Andrews, 1999a). Background Previous studies investigating the metalinguistic knowledge of teachers: Background Previous studies investigating the metalinguistic knowledge of teachers Andrews (1999b)
- Teachers scored relatively high on a metalinguistic knowledge test.
- Non-native speakers did better than native speakers.
- Both groups struggled on the same linguistic items.
- Teaching experience may play a role in achieving higher metalinguistic knowledge. Research questions 1. What effect, if any, does teaching experience play in the development of metalinguistic knowledge?
2. What effect, if any, does participation in a pedagogical grammar course play in the development of metalinguistic knowledge?
3. Does one of these variables (teaching experience or pedagogical grammar course) have a larger effect than the other? Erlam et al. (2009)
- Metalinguistic knowledge among teachers was surprisingly low.
-Again, non-native speakers did better than native speakers. Background That I know of, no previous study has looked at the effect of pedagogical grammar courses in the development of teachers' metalinguistic knowledge.

Pedagogical grammar courses are designed to raise teacher trainees' knowledge of the grammar of the target language.

Additionally, while one study (i.e. Andrews, 1999b) found an effect for teaching experience in relation to metalinguistic knowledge, this was not the intent of that study. Participants Participants in this study will be students in Michigan State University's MA TESOL program.

Additionally, I hope to recruit students from other area MA TESOL programs (Central Michigan University, Eastern Michigan University, etc.). Instrument Instrument The instrument used for this study will be the test of metalinguistic knowledge that was devised for the Marsden Fund Project (Ellis et al., 2009).

This test was used for different purposes, but one of them was to assess the metalinguistic knowledge of NS NNS TESOL teachers in training.

This study, however, did not take into account previous language teaching experience or pedagogical grammar courses. The test has already been used and found to be reliable (Erlam et al., 2009).

Additionally, the test covers a wide range of grammatical features. Instrument Test consists of two parts. Part one: Participants are given fifteen sentences with an underlined error. If the participant knows the rule that explains the error, then he or she should write it in the space provided. Example: I lost mine ring. ____________________________________
____________________________________ Instrument Participants read a short passage. After reading the passage, they must complete a chart that asks them to identify 20 specific grammatical features from the reading. Part two: Example: Grammatical Feature Example Definite article Verb Procedure Participants will first be given a questionnaire asking for information about their age, L1, amount of previous teaching experience and whether or not they have taken a pedagogical grammar course. After completing the questionnaire, students will be given the metalinguistic knowledge test.

There will be no time limit on the metalinguistic knowledge test, but it is not expected to take more than one hour. Procedure The researcher and a separate rater will score the responses. For the first part of the metalinguistic knowledge test, participants do not need to use metalingual terms in order to get the response correct.

Thus, a participant could respond “A is used because it is something that is not known to the speaker,” and this would be just as correct as “The indefinite article is used before nouns that are unknown to the speaker.” Data Analysis In order to answer the first research question a one-way ANOVA will be run to see the relationship between previous teaching experience and metalinguistic knowledge.

In order to carry out this test, responses to the teaching experience question on the questionnaire will be coded as:
1= no teaching experience
2=less than one year of teaching experience.
3=one to two years of teaching experience.
4=two to five years of teaching experience.
5=five or more years of teaching experience. In order to answer the second research question, a t-test will be used to show the relationship between participation in a pedagogical grammar course and metalinguistic knowledge. Finally, a two-way ANOVA will be used to answer the third research question. The results of this test will show which independent variable (previous teaching experience or participation in a pedagogical grammar course) has a larger effect on the dependent variable (metalinguistic knowledge test scores). Implications Such a study could emphasize the need to give trainees ample teaching experience in their training program.

Also, conclusions could be drawn as to the effectiveness of pedagogical grammar courses.
-Are they as important as simply having enough teaching experience? Thank you! Background Tests of Metalinguistic Knowledge A test that is used to gauge learners' explicit knowledge of specific grammatical forms.

These tests can be conducted in various ways:
-Learners must indicate whether or not a sentence is grammatical.
-Learners are told that a sentence is ungrammatical, and they must indicate what about it is flawed.
-Learners are told what part is ungrammatical and they must state the rule that explains the ungrammaticality. Background Metalinguistic Knowledge Tests A number of studies have used metalinguistic knowledge tests as a means of understanding learners' explicit knowledge about the L2's grammar (Green & Hecht, 1992; Alderson et al., 1997; Butler, 2002; Hu, 2002; Elder & Manwaring, 2004; Roehr & Ganem-Gutierrez, 2009; Hu, 2011;) and to understand the metalinguistic knowledge of teachers (Andrews, 1999b; Erlam et al., 2009).
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