The Importance Of Language Awareness In Human Development

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How much language awareness can account for L2 development? Is it necessary? Can it hinder fluency? The controversy involving explicit and implicit learning boosts many studies in SLA field. Some researches (e.g. Krashen, 1981; Paradis, 1994) do not see much contribution of explicit grammar teaching in L2 development, whereas others (R. Ellis, 1994) argue that explicit knowledge accelerates form-meaning mapping and helps to attain certain types of knowledge, such as academic or professional speaking and writing, that are not easy to acquire in naturalistic learning (Hinkel & Fotos, 2002). Regardless the theory to which teachers align, they should always consider their audience. Even if they believe that explicit teaching is beneficial, they …show more content…
I have seen many studies that report lack of L2 awareness without testing if the subjects had metalinguistic knowledge in their L1. For example, Gutiérrez (2013), studying a group of L1 English speakers learning L2 Spanish, investigated what is the nature of the metalinguistic and metalingual knowledge developed by learners, and the relationship between these two types of knowledge and L2 proficiency. The findings show that “the participants did not possess adequate metalinguistic knowledge of the structures included in the test.” When I read this article, my reaction to this conclusion was that the lack of metalinguistic knowledge in L2 is a consequential lack of metalinguistic awareness in their L1. I have always been metalinguistic aware in English, French, and Spanish because of the explicit knowledge acquired in my first language through extensive instruction in grammatical rules received during Secondary and High School. In Brazil, when finishing High School, students are supposed to know what are, for instance, subordinate clauses, relative conjunctions, and subjunctive mood. Therefore, when learning foreign languages, I just need to improve my metalingual vocabulary. Ammar, Lightbown & Spada suggest that this variable should be controlled (p. 141), which means that Gutiérrez should have tested the participants to check if there were similarities between L1 and L2’s explicit knowledge

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