Revisiting the role of metalanguage in L2 teaching and learning

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Abstract
One topic that is sidelined in the professional literature on second language (L2) teaching and learning is the use of metalanguage in the classroom. In the past three decades, explicit and formal instruction in L2 grammar has fallen from its centrality in traditional pedagogical approaches and been relegated to a peripheral position in many classrooms, due to the joint influences of some popular theoretical claims, findings from early empirical studies about the disassociation between learners' explicit knowledge of L2 target structures and their ability to use these structures, and communicative language teaching, which, in its application, sometimes sets great store by the development of communicative competence and fluency rather than grammatical competence. Because of its time-honored association with formal grammar instruction, metalanguage has been downplayed or even rejected as a legitimate component of pedagogical practices in many L2 classrooms. This paper discusses recent empirical research on the relationships between L2 proficiency, metalinguistic awareness, and metalinguistic knowledge. It also considers several potential advantages that understanding and using metalanguage offer to L2 teaching and learning. Based on the discussion, it argues that metalanguage deserves a place in L2 classrooms.
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Revisiting the role of metalanguage in L2 teaching and
learning
guangwei hu
Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
One topic that is sidelined in the professional literature on second language
(L2) teaching and learning is the use of metalanguage in the classroom. In
the past three decades, explicit and formal instruction in L2 grammar has
fallen from its centrality in traditional pedagogical approaches and been
relegated to a peripheral position in many classrooms, due to the joint
influences of some popular theoretical claims, findings from early empirical
studies about the disassociation between learners’ explicit knowledge of L2
target structures and their ability to use these structures, and communicative
language teaching, which, in its application, sometimes sets great store
by the development of communicative competence and fluency rather
than grammatical competence. Because of its time-honored association
with formal grammar instruction, metalanguage has been downplayed
or even rejected as a legitimate component of pedagogical practices in
many L2 classrooms. is paper discusses recent empirical research on
the relationships between L2 proficiency, metalinguistic awareness, and
metalinguistic knowledge. It also considers several potential advantages
that understanding and using metalanguage offer to L2 teaching and
learning. Based on the discussion, it argues that metalanguage deserves a
place in L2 classrooms.
Introduction
e use of metalanguage – namely, technical or semi-technical terminology employed
to analyse or describe language (Crystal, 1997; James & Garrett, 1992) is a
pedagogical topic that is rarely discussed today in the professional literature on L2
teaching and learning (Borg, 1999). is general lack of attention has resulted, in
large measure, from the unfortunate, entrenched linkage of metalanguage with explicit
and formal instruction in L2 grammar usage (Berry, 1997; Eisenstein, 1987; Francis,
1994). Over the decades, instruction in L2 grammar has fallen from its centrality in
traditional pedagogical approaches (e.g. the Grammar-Translation Method) and been
relegated to a less important or insignificant position in many classrooms (Elder &
Manwaring, 2004). Several sources of influence have contributed to this sidelining
of formal grammar instruction.
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One major source of influence was the widely publicised position championed by
some early second language theories (see Krashen, 1981, 1985; Paradis, 1994; Zobl,
1992) that explicit knowledge learned as a result of formal grammar instruction would
not contribute to language acquisition or underlie spontaneous language use. Such a
position provided a theoretical basis for the rejection of explicit and formal teaching
of L2 grammar (Carter, 1995). A second important source of influence consisted in
some empirical studies (e.g. Alderson, Clapham, & Steel, 1997; Grigg, 1986; Seliger,
1979; Steel & Alderson, 1994) suggesting that L2 learners’ metalinguistic knowledge
was not related to their L2 proficiency or actual use of the target language. ese studies
provided some empirical evidence that lent support to a questioning of the usefulness
of explicit, formal grammar instruction. A third major source of influence was the rise
and spread of communicative language teaching (CLT) (Hu, 2002a; Savignon, 2005).
While there are different versions of CLT, they all set great store on the development
of communicative competence (i.e. the ability to use the target language to engage in
meaningful and effective communication) rather than just grammatical competence
(Richards & Rodgers, 2001). Although not all CLT practitioners (especially those
adopting a weak version of CLT) are opposed to explicit and systematic teaching of
L2 grammar in lessons (see Batstone, 1994a, 1994b; Scheffler & Cinciała, in press),
many CLT-oriented classrooms (in particular those implementing a strong version of
CLT) ‘downplay the importance of explicit grammar instruction’ (Elder & Manwaring,
2004, p. 145; Carter, 2003). us, the CLT movement has provided a pedagogical
impetus that has contributed to a growing distrust in and an increasing marginalisation
of formal grammar instruction in many L2 classrooms.
Because of its long association with explicit and formal grammar instruction,
metalanguage in particular has also been marginalised or even rejected as a legitimate
component of pedagogical practices in many L2 classrooms (Berry, 2009). Alderson
(1997), for example, questions ‘the assumption that teachers need to have metalanguage
(p.2) and declares ‘I have long suspected that this is why teachers use metalanguage
in class, to emphasise their position of knowledge and authority, to reinforce their
power’ (p.16). Garrett (1986) claims that the use of metalanguage constitutes a
major problem with formal grammar instruction because ‘it cannot of itself invoke
understanding of the processing which leads to the production of a structure’ (p.141).
In a similar vein, Mohammed (1996) asserts that grammar instruction based on
linguistic terms and concepts can hardly achieve the goal of adding to or modifying
the rules discovered by learners themselves ‘through the natural process of hypotheses
formation and testing’ because ‘such terms and concepts constitute an additional
learning burden and remain as a separate body of knowledge that has nothing to do
with the way people actually process language’ (p.283). ‘Another problem in using
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[linguistic] terms’, Mohammed claims, ‘is that the learner may focus on these terms
and learn them by heart either because he thinks that these terms are what the teacher
or textbook writer wants him to know or because he believes that learning a language
is a matter of learning such terms’ (p. 287).
Metalanguage, metalinguistic knowledge, and L2 Proficiency
Criticisms of the use of metalanguage in the classroom, such as those mentioned above,
are misguided because they fail to recognise the part that metalanguage can play in
facilitating the development of metalinguistic knowledge, namely analysed, often
verbalisable, knowledge about the L2 (Hu, 2002b). In addition, in contrast to the early
empirical studies cited above, several recent studies have found substantial positive
correlations between knowledge of metalanguage and L2 proficiency. In a study
involving 372 first-year undergraduate students in Hong Kong, Berry (1997) found
that the participants differed widely in their knowledge of 50 items of metalanguage
and that this knowledge was significantly correlated with their A-level grades for
English, suggesting a connection between knowledge of [linguistic] terminology and
proficiency in English’ (p.140) as measured by that instrument. e strong correlation
between metalinguistic knowledge and L2 proficiency was replicated in another study
by Berry (2009) which involved first-year English majors just starting their university
study in Poland, Austria, and Hong Kong. For the Hong Kong sub-sample (i.e.
the only group for whom English proficiency scores were available), students who
scored higher in their A-level English examination also scored significantly higher
on the test of metalinguistic knowledge. Similar results were also obtained by Elder
and Manwaring (2004) in their study of the relationship between L2 grammatical
knowledge and assessment results in a sample of undergraduate students of Chinese
at an Australian university. Consistently strong positive correlations were found
between the second-year students’ knowledge of grammatical terms and their semester
achievement scores for speaking, listening, reading and writing in Chinese
It is true that the number of empirical studies reporting such positive relationships
is still quite small. However, there are a reasonably large number of empirical studies
that have found strong correlations between learners’ metalinguistic knowledge of
various L2 structures and their L2 proficiency. In the Elder and Manwaring study,
robust and strong correlations were found between various measures of metalinguistic
knowledge of Chinese and end-of-semester Chinese achievement scores. Similarly,
Han and Ellis (1998) obtained substantial correlations between 48 adult English-
L2 learners’ scores on a measure of metalinguistic knowledge and their scores for
two international English proficiency tests, TOEFL and Secondary Level English
Proficiency Test. In a study involving university, advanced-level, French L2 learners,
Renou (2001) also found consistently significant correlations between metalanguistic
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awareness and L2 proficiency in a sub-sample of learners coming from a ‘grammar
approach to learning French as a second or foreign language’ (p.253). Notably, such
relationships were missing for the sub-sample coming from a communicative approach
to learning the target language. Even stronger correlations between various measures
of metalinguistic knowledge and L2 proficiency tests were obtained in Ellis (2006)
and Roehr (2007). Such empirical findings suggest that knowledge of metalanguage
may have an indirect influence on, in the words of Garrett, ‘the processing which
leads to the production of a structure’ through its relationship with metalinguistic
knowledge. Indeed, several recent studies (Elder & Manwaring, 2004; Ellis, 2005; Hu,
1999) have found strong and positive correlations between L2 learners’ metalanguistic
knowledge and their receptive or productive knowledge of metalanguage. For example,
both Hu (1999) and Elder and Manwaring (2004) obtained correlation coefficients
in the high range of .70 - .72. Such findings support Ellis’s (2004) observation that
‘it is possible that an increase in the depth of explicit knowledge will occur hand in
hand with the acquisition of more metalanguage, if only because access to linguistic
labels may help sharpen understanding of linguistic constructs’ (p.240).
To the extent that explicit discussion of and deliberate reflection on linguistic patterns
and properties are helpful for developing an essential knowledge of the underlying
regularities and relationships in the target linguistic system (Renou, 2001; Swain, 2005;
Swain & Lapkin, 1995; Storch, 2008), a judicious use of metalanguage can get the
job done in a more efficient manner, because linguistic terms are essentially succinct
ways of categorising patterns and relationships found in a language. To understand
and learn these terms can be a useful step to understanding and learning the patterns
and relationships that they label. As pointed out by Ellis (2004), metalanguage ‘may
assist learners in developing explicit knowledge that has greater precision and accuracy
(p. 261). A case can be made that a judicious use of metalanguage can benefit L2
learners who are cognitively mature and developmentally ready.
Potential advantages of using metalanguage
Metalanguage offers several advantages that can be exploited in the L2 classroom
(for arguments in favor of metalanguage see Berry, 2005; Borg, 1999). e five
most important ones will be discussed briefly below. To begin with, as the findings
from the research reviewed in the preceding section suggest, knowledge and use of
metalanguage have the potential to facilitate the development of an L2 learner’s
metalinguistic awareness – that is, ‘an enhanced consciousness of and sensitivity to
the forms and functions of language’ (Carter, 2003, p.64); which can in turn enhance
language development (Berry, 2005; Swain, 2005). By its very nature, metalanguage
entails a reflexive focus on language (Berry, 2005). Reflecting upon language is an
important means whereby language learners develop their understandings of how
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forms and functions are mapped in the target language (Swain & Lapkin, 1995; Storch,
2008) and how language ‘interacts with culture and ideology’ (Carter, 1995, p.1).
Furthermore, as argued by Ellis (2004), access to metalanguage can sharpen a learner’s
understanding of the structure of the target language and lead to verbalisable, analysed
knowledge, which according to Bialystok (1990) and Schmidt (1990) constitutes the
highest level of consciousness of language.
Second, in societies where analytical study and metalanguage feature strongly in L1
literacy instruction, the use of metalanguage in the L2 classroom is a useful way to
tap the wealth of metalinguistic awareness that learners have developed in the process
of acquiring L1 literacy. In mainland China for example, a typical Chinese child is
brought into formal contact with metalanguage through mother-tongue instruction at
primary school. By the time the child reaches secondary school, an essential knowledge
of metalanguage is already in place. Consequently, the secondary school teacher of
English is in a good position to exploit the child’s metalinguistic knowledge to assist
him or her in making sense of the L2 system. Basic linguistic terms (e.g., noun,
verb, adjective, subject, and object) which label concepts and relationships common
to Chinese and English can be used to help the child see how strings of sounds or
words are organised and patterned in the L2. is point is clearly borne out by Elder
and Manwarings (2004) study, which found that on an L2 metalanguage assessment
task learners of Chinese performed best on grammatical features which also existed
in their L1.
A third advantage of using metalanguage in grammar instruction can be appreciated
only in view of the disadvantages and difficulties that arise in classrooms where
teachers and learners refrain from using such terms. An example suffices to illustrate
this point. Even in a CLT-oriented classroom, it is sometimes desirable to have an
explicit discussion of the structural and functional features of complex structures
(Carter, 1995; Rutherford, 1987). Such a discussion can be used either to raise learners’
consciousness about the target structures or to provide an opportunity for them to
confirm or modify the rules they have internalised as a result of their own hypothesis
formation and testing. However, it is difficult to see how an explicit discussion of
complex structures, such as unreal conditionals and relative clauses, can be conducted
without recourse to metalanguage. As Ellis (2006) notes, unreal conditionals ‘cannot be
easily explained without reference to … terms like ‘main clause,’ ‘subordinate clause,’
‘past perfect,’ modal verb,’ ‘past participle’’ (p.457). at is, a concise and economic
vocabulary about language (i.e. metalanguage) is often needed to talk about language
explicitly or, in the words of Crystal (1985, p.22), ‘to take the pieces of language apart
and put them back together again’.
Still another potential advantage of using metalanguage in teaching grammar concerns
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the explanatory precision with which linguistic generalisation can be made and the
efficient delimitation of the contexts to which the generalisation applies. Metalanguage
that is appropriately used can preempt both under- and over-generalisation of the
rules in question. Take, for example, the use of the simple present in temporal and
conditional clauses for future reference. If a teacher wishes to draw the learners’
attention to this particular use of the simple present but refrains from using any
metalanguage, he or she will have to provide them, in one way or another, with a
whole range of exemplars covering clauses introduced by subordinators such as after,
as, before, once, till, until, when(ever), as soon as, if, unless, as long as, etc. to prevent
potential under-generalisation of the regularity. Even if the teacher succeeds in making
the learners know that the simple present can be used in these clauses, there is no easy
way for him or her to preempt over-generalisation. It is probable that some learners
may be induced to believe that the use can be generalised to other types of adverbial
clause. at is, there is always a danger that a wrong generalisation is inferred from
a set of examples which illustrate where a rule applies but not where it does not
apply. ese problems can be greatly alleviated by appealing to linguistic terms such
as temporal clause and conditional clause, provided that the learners know what these
terms refer to.
Finally, metalanguage can be used profitably by teachers to help their learners link
up newly encountered structures with knowledge of the target system that has
already been acquired. In other words, metalanguage and concepts of L2 structural
properties already learned can be exploited as points of reference or anchoring sites
for the assimilation of new knowledge. is is most obvious when teachers compare
and/or contrast new grammatical features (e.g. given, assuming, and presuming) with
previously learned features (e.g. if and unless), and make clear the connections between
them through linguistic terms (e.g. subordinating conjunctions and conditional clauses)
that learners have learned and can understand. One may argue that some ingenuity
can enable a teacher to get the job done without reference to metalanguage. Such
ingenuity surely could be enlisted for more worthwhile pedagogical practices in the
L2 classroom than merely to circumvent the use of metalanguage.
concLusion
e discussion above points to a need to reconsider the role of metalanguage in
L2 teaching and learning in the light of current research on the inter-relationships
between metalanguistic knowledge, metalinguistic awareness, and L2 proficiency.
e empirically identified positive correlations among the three, as well as the many
potential advantages that use of metalanguage can offer, lead to the conclusion that
metalanguage deserves a place in L2 teaching. A case can be made that, unless it is
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taught purely for its own sake, metalanguage can be a valuable means of facilitating
L2 learning rather than an additional learning burden that ‘remain[s] a separate
body of knowledge’ (Mohammed, 1996, p.283). is reappraisal of the role of
metalanguage, however, does not resolve all pedagogical issues concerning the use
of metalanguage. While a return to the boring and sterile pedagogical practices of
the traditional approaches is out of the question, many issues (e.g. when and how to
use metalanguage) remain to be explored. In particular, there is a need for empirical
research, along the direction taken by such studies as Basturkmen, Loewen, and
Ellis (2002) and Storch (2008), that seeks to explore how metalinguistic awareness
and metalanguage can be most fruitfully integrated into a meaning-focused,
communication-oriented L2 pedagogy.
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Guangwei Hu is an Associate Professor of Applied Linguistics at the
National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University,
Singapore, where he teaches graduate courses in language assessment,
psycholinguistics, and research methodology in applied linguistics.
He has published extensively on language education, language policy,
metalinguistic knowledge, and teaching of L2 writing.
guangwei.hu@nie.edu.sg
  • ... There are many advantages of using metalanguage in L2 classrooms. Hu (2010) briefly mentions five of them that are the most important advantages: ...
    ... Third, Hu (2010) claims that when the teacher and students avoid using metalanguage, there will be some difficulties and disadvantages in grammar instruction. Even in English classes that the method of teaching is CLT, they sometimes desire to talk about language explicitly (p. ...
    ... 65). Hu (2010) points out that the next advantage of using metalanguage "concerns the explanatory precision with which linguistic generalization can be made and the efficient delimitation of the contexts to which the generalization applies. Metalanguage that is appropriately used can preempt both under-and over-generalization of the rules in question." ...
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    Metalanguage did not receive a lot of attention in communicative language teaching (CLT) but has remained an untouched area in second language studies. This research wanted to examine the effect of teachers’ metalanguage on learners’ noticing of grammatical points. This research was conducted at two proficiency levels of elementary and intermediate. In each level of elementary and intermediate, two groups were chosen, an experimental and a control group. In the experimental group, the teachers used metalanguage to teach grammar points. However, in control group the teachers used examples to teach grammar points. A noticing task test was administered to the two groups to collect data. The result indicated that the metalanguage had impacted the learners’ noticing, of grammatical points.
  • ... Quite recently, Metalinguistic Knowledge (MK) has been considered as a vital component of second language (L2) teaching and learning and has occupied the minds of quite a number of researchers (e.g.,Berry, 2005Berry, , 2014DeKeyser, 2009;Ellis, 2004;Hu, 2010;Roehr, 2008) in the field. Despite the diversity of definitions for the construct of MK in the literature, Roehr (2007) defines MK as " the learners' ability to correct, describe, and explain L2 errors " (p. ...
    ... Although there are a large number of empirical studies (e.g.,Berry, 2009;Elder & Manwaring, 2004;Ellis, 2005;White & Ranta, 2002) asserting strong correlations between learners' MK and their L2 proficiency, research directly exploring the relationship between components of language learning aptitude, MK, and the role of these notions with regard to L2 proficiency is as yet scarce (Hu, 2010;Roehr, 2007). The study reported by Myhill (2000) on the MK of learners' grammar suggests that learning MK can be made problematic and a further research is felt essential primarily for teachers' MK and later for learners' acquisition of MK. ...
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    Fairly recently, the construct of metalinguistic knowledge and its relation to L2 learners’ language proficiency have been the focus of numerous theoreticians, researchers, and the educators in the field. With respect to second language teachers assessment, however, little attempt has been made to explore the metalinguistic knowledge and its relationship between serving and non-serving teachers. The current study, accordingly, was designed to investigate whether there is a relationship between non-native in-service and pre-service teachers performing the metalinguistic and linguistic knowledge tests and if there is a difference between the two groups of teachers’ performance on these two tests. To collect the data on the two constructs of linguistic and metalinguistic knowledge, 80 non-native teachers performed on the Cloze Test and untimed Grammaticality Judgment Test from an English language institute. Following a range of statistical analyses, the findings revealed no positive correlation between the Linguistic and Metalinguistic tests both in the in-service and pre-service teachers of English language. It was also found that the two groups of teachers did not differ significantly with respect to their performance on the Linguistic test while the in-service teachers outperformed their counterpart in the Metalinguistic knowledge test.
  • ... The ability to use metalanguage is an important skill that teachers need to learn. Hu (2010, cited in Ellis, 2012 points out four reasons for the importance of knowing and using metalanguage by the teachers: 1) many learners possess a rich metalinguistic knowledge and teachers need to be able to tap into this, 2) explicit discussion of language is advantageous at times, even incommunicative lessons, 3) the use of metalanguage allows for 'explanatory precision', and 4) metalanguage can help learners make the link between what they already know and new knowledge. (p. ...
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    Full-text available
    This research was conducted on Iranian EFL learners in Tehran Institute of Technology (The West Branch) to examine the effect of teachers' metalanguage on learners' learning of grammatical points. In each level of elementary and intermediate, two groups were chosen, an experimental and a control group. In the experimental group, the teachers used metalanguage to teach grammar points. However, in control group the teachers used examples to teach grammar points. The result indicated that the metalanguage had impacted the learners' learning of grammatical points. The effect was more obvious with regard to the learning of grammatical points where the intermediate learners remarkably did better than the elementary ones.
  • ... The ability to use metalanguage is an important skill that teachers need to learn. Hu (2010, cited in Ellis, 2012 points out four reasons for the importance of knowing and using metalanguage by the teachers: 1) many learners possess a rich metalinguistic knowledge and teachers need to be able to tap into this, 2) explicit discussion of language is advantageous at times, even incommunicative lessons, 3) the use of metalanguage allows for 'explanatory precision', and 4) metalanguage can help learners make the link between what they already know and new knowledge. (p. ...
    Article
    Full-text available
    This research was conducted on Iranian EFL learners in Tehran Institute of Technology (The West Branch) to examine the effect of teachers' metalanguage on learners' learning of grammatical points. In each level of elementary and intermediate, two groups were chosen, an experimental and a control group. In the experimental group, the teachers used metalanguage to teach grammar points. However, in control group the teachers used examples to teach grammar points. The result indicated that the metalanguage had impacted the learners' learning of grammatical points. The effect was more obvious with regard to the learning of grammatical points where the intermediate learners remarkably did better than the elementary ones.
  • ... The ability to use metalanguage is an important skill that teachers need to learn. Hu (2010, cited in Ellis, 2012 points out four reasons for the importance of knowing and using metalanguage by the teachers: 1) many learners possess a rich metalinguistic knowledge and teachers need to be able to tap into this, 2) explicit discussion of language is advantageous at times, even incommunicative lessons, ...
  • ... This conscious awareness or knowledge allows one to reflect on and manipulate the system of any language (Fielding-Barnsley& Purdie, 2005). Equally, Hu (2010) favors the teacher's use of metalanguage for explanatory precision only happens when one actually uses metalanguage. ...
    Article
    Full-text available
    This small-scale research aimed at investigating the nature and extent of metalinguistic knowledge among English teachers amid the little treatment of grammar, heavily literature-based, in the 2010 Secondary Curriculum. Sixteen intact female graduating English major students from three colleges, and 17 intact in-service high school English teachers from 6 schools in Manila, school year 2012-2013, completed two metalanguage tests. Using the SPSS, descriptive statistics were generated for quantitative data, while qualitative analysis centered mainly on the reasons of the difficulty of the tests. Although results showed that a significant difference of performances in two metalanguage tests exists between the two groups, it is argued that years of teaching may not fully influence teachers’ declarative metalinguistic knowledge. In a nutshell, low MK among the English teachers can be used by policy makers to revisit the Domain 7 of NCBTS, and to reconsider/revisit the treatment of grammar teaching.
  • Article
    This small-scale research aimed at investigating the nature and extent of metalinguistic knowledge among English teachers amid the little treatment of grammar, heavily literature-based, in the 2010 Secondary Curriculum. Sixteen intact female graduating English major students from three colleges, and 17 intact in-service high school English teachers from 6 schools in Manila, school year 2012-2013, completed two metalanguage tests. Using the SPSS, descriptive statistics were generated for quantitative data, while qualitative analysis centered mainly on the reasons of the difficulty of the tests. Although results showed that a significant difference of performances in two metalanguage tests exists between the two groups, it is argued that years of teaching may not fully influence teachers’ declarative metalinguistic knowledge. In a nutshell, low MK among the English teachers can be used by policy makers to revisit the Domain 7 of NCBTS, and to reconsider/revisit the treatment of grammar teaching.
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    Sandra Joy Savignon is a professor in the Program in Linguistics and Applied Language Studies at the Pennsylvania State University. A past president of the American Association for Applied Linguistics and the founder and long-time director of the multidisciplinary doctoral program in Second Language Acquisition and Teacher Education at the University of Illinois, she has traveled widely in North and South America, Europe, and Asia, consulting and giving seminars on communicative language teaching. Her books include Communicative competence: theory and classroom practice, winner of the Modern Language Association of America Mildenberger Medal for an outstanding research publication in the field of second/foreign language teaching. Her most recent book is Interpreting communicative language teaching: contexts and concerns in teacher education. She and her husband Gabriel are the parents of three bilingual children, now grown with families of their own.
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    This paper explores ways of measuring implicit and explicit second language (L2) knowledge and examines the relationship between these measures and measures of general language proficiency. Scores were obtained from a timed oral production test, a timed grammaticality judgement test (administered twice), a delayed grammaticality judgement test and an interview designed to tap metalingual knowledge, all of which focused on learners’ knowledge of verb complementation in English. A factor analysis revealed a two-factor solution, reflecting a clear distinction between those measures that incorporated a time constraint (hypothesized to reflect implicit knowledge) and those that did not (hypothesized to tap explicit knowledge). Both factors were found to correlate with scores on the Secondary Level English Proficiency Test (SLEP). However, only one measure of explicit knowledge (the Delayed Grammaticality Judgement Test) was found to be significantly related to scores on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). The significance of these results for language teaching and testing is considered.