Metalinguistic knowledge, metalanguage, and their relationship in L2 learners

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31 Citations (Scopus)


This paper reports on a study designed to investigate the acquisition of metalinguistic knowledge by L2 learners exposed to large doses of explicit grammar instruction, their facility with metalanguage, and the relationship between metalinguistic and metalingual knowledge. Seventy-six young adult Chinese learners of English as a foreign language completed an untimed rule verbalization task that involved 49 uses of 6 English target structures: the definite article, the indefinite article, the zero article, the simple present, the simple past, and the present perfect. The rule verbalizations were rated for acceptability, and all the metalingual terms used in the verbalizations were identified and coded for correct usage. Quantitative and qualitative analyses reveal that 1) the participants amassed much explicit knowledge of the target structures; 2) their explicit knowledge was mostly consistent with typical pedagogical rules; 3) they had a productive knowledge of a large number of metalingual terms; and 4) there was a positive relationship between metalinguistic knowledge and facility with metalanguage.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-77
Number of pages15
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Chinese learner of English
  • Explicit grammar instruction
  • Explicit knowledge
  • Metalanguage
  • Metalingual knowledge
  • Metalinguistic knowledge
  • Pedagogical grammar rules
  • Second language learner

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


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