Is There a Relationship Between Language Competences and Metalinguistic Awareness?

  • Zofia Chłopek
Part of the Multilingual Education book series (MULT, volume 26)


Psycholinguistic publications often point to the fact that bi-/multilingual people learn a new language more effectively and efficiently than monolingual ones, especially in instructed conditions. An important reason of this advantage, mentioned by several researchers, is metalinguistic awareness, which is believed to be better developed in bi-/multilinguals than in monolinguals (e.g. Thomas. J Multiling Multicult Dev 9(3):235–246, 1988; Klein. Lang Learn 45(3):419–465, 1995; Herdina and Jessner. A dynamic model of multilingualism: perspectives of change in psycholinguistics. Multilingual Matters, Clevedon, 2002; Ó Laoire. L3 in Ireland: a preliminary study of learners’ metalinguistic awareness. In: Hufeisen B, Fouser RJ (eds) Introductory readings in L3. Stauffenburg, Tübingen, pp 47–53, 2005; Gibson and Hufeisen. Investigating the role of prior foreign language knowledge: translating from an unknown into a known foreign language. In: Cenoz J, Hufeisen B, Jessner U (eds) The multilingual lexicon. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, pp 87–102, 2006; Jessner. Linguistic awareness in multilinguals: English as a third language. Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, 2006; Rauch et al Int J Biling 16(4):402–418, 2012). The present study deals with the relationship between language competences and metalinguistic awareness. Its results indicate that language competences are an asset for understanding an unknown language. They also suggest that there may be a dependence between both the number of appropriated languages and the level of their attainment and metalinguistic awareness. However, it is not clear which direction of influence is more probable – whether language competences boost the development of metalinguistic awareness or whether metalinguistic awareness contributes to the successful development of any further language, or whether this dependence is bidirectional.


Metalinguistic awareness Bilinguals Multilinguals L2 learners L3 learners 



I am most grateful to the anonymous reviewers for their invaluable comments on the previous versions of the text (naturally, all shortcomings of the present article are exclusively my own). Special thanks go to my colleague, Janusz Stopyra, for his invaluable help with the translation of the Danish text. Last but not least, I would like to thank the students from the German Philology Department of the University of Wrocław who agreed to participate in the translation task.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zofia Chłopek
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of German PhilologyUniversity of WrocławWrocławPoland

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