Research on language analysis

Please tell us of any research you think is relevant.

Language analysis in L2

  • Roehr, Karen. 2008. Metalinguistic Knowledge and Language Ability in University-Level L2 Learners. Applied Linguistics 29(2). 173–199.
    • Existing research indicates that instructed learners’ L2 proficiency and their metalinguistic knowledge are moderately correlated. However, the operationalization of the construct of metalinguistic knowledge has varied somewhat across studies. Metalinguistic knowledge has typically been operationalized as learners’ ability to correct, describe, and explain L2 errors. More recently, this operationalization has been extended to additionally include learners’ L1 language-analytic ability as measured by tests traditionally used to assess components of language learning aptitude. This article reports on a study which employed a narrowly focused measure of L2 proficiency and incorporated L2 language-analytic ability into a measure of metalinguistic knowledge. It was found that the linguistic and metalinguistic knowledge of advanced university-level L1 English learners of L2 German correlated strongly. Moreover, the outcome of a principal components analysis suggests that learners’ ability to correct, describe, and explain highlighted L2 errors and their L2 language-analytic ability may constitute components of the same construct. The theoretical implications of these findings for the concept of metalinguistic knowledge in L2 learning are considered.
  • Roehr-Brackin, Karen & Angela Tellier. 2019. The role of language-analytic ability in children’s instructed second language learning. Studies in Second Language Acquisition 1–21. doi:10.1017/S0272263119000214.
    • Language-analytic ability, or the ability to treat language as an object of analysis and arrive at linguistic generalizations, is at the core of the constructs of language learning aptitude and metalinguistic awareness, which are implicated in our ability to learn explicitly. In the context of child second language (L2) learning, it has been argued that children learn primarily implicitly and that the most important component of aptitude may be memory ability. However, no empirical research to date has investigated the relationship and development of aptitude and metalinguistic awareness longitudinally as well as examined their predictive power for children ’ s L2 achievement in the classroom. In a study with English-speaking learners aged 8 – 9 (N 5 111), we found that although aptitude and metalinguistic awareness were (still) dynamic, they signi fi cantly predicted children ’ s achievement in L2 French. Moreover, language-analytic ability proved to be the component with the strongest predictive power. This finding suggests that it may not be level of cognitive maturity alone that determines children ’ s approach to L2 learning; experiencing explicit, form-focused instruction may foster the role of language-analytic ability even in children as young as 8 – 9 years.

Language analysis inL1 writing

  • Fontich, X. (2018). Teaching & Learning Guide for: “L1 Grammar Instruction and Writing: Metalinguistic Activity as a Teaching and Research Focus”. Lang Linguist Compass. 2018;e12273. 
    • Some authors have noted a lack of conceptual clarity in the field of L1 grammar instruction for writing. Here “metalinguistic activity” is proposed as a concept that can contribute conceptual clarity by relating metalinguistic activity both to the reflexivity that language affords (i.e., using language to refer to language itself) and to a sociocultural approach to languages (i.e., languages as semiotic tools that underpin our psychological development). I discuss how this notion is approached by Grup de Recerca sobre Ensenyament i Aprenentatge de Llengües (GREAL), the Research Group on Teaching and Learning Languages at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (Spain), and describe their seminal study of secondary students’ metalinguistic activity in the context of writing. Results show that metalinguistic activity emerges at different levels (procedural, with common language, and with metalanguage). While it may not lead to students automatically writing better texts, metalinguistic activity does help them to engage in sustained discussion about text choices in the context of text production, something considered of the utmost importance in educating good writers. In conclusion, I indicate the theoretical relevance of this concept and suggest the need for more research on how to implement it effectively in the classroom. The teaching and learning guide extends the article’s scope by presenting ideas on how to promote metalinguistic activity in the classroom as a source for grammar knowledge.

Language analysis in L1 and L2 teaching

  • McManus and Marsden – and other papers in the same collection of research on the effects of L1 and L2 on each other.



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