Education for plurilingualism: Metalinguistic awareness in early instructed language learning

Project period: 2020-2024

The state of the art in language acquisition research and education for plurilingualism suggests that it is important for pupils to draw on the languages they already know when they are learning a foreign language. This strategy is facilitated when pupils have what is called metalinguistic awareness (MLA), which means that they can make use of metalinguistic knowledge in specific instances, i.e. knowledge about language in general, rather than about a language in particular. MLA has been identified as an important element in fostering plurilingualism. Despite its apparent importance we still know little about MLA and especially about how it develops in instructed language-learning, in Norway and internationally.

MetaLearn's overarching objective is therefore to map, for the early stages of formal education, (a) how metalinguistic awareness develops in its interdependency with a set of contextual, individual, and language-related variables, and (b) whether and how learners' MLA can be promoted in the classroom. MetaLearn thereby contributes substantially to the advancement of research on MLA, internationally and nationally. For Norway, MetaLearn also provides an urgently needed background for promoting plurilingualism in all pupils, whether children with Norwegian as their home language or children with a minority language background, which can help schools and teachers to empower all pupils to exploit the full potential of their language competence.

In 2020, The Research Council of Norway awarded 12,0 mill. NOK funding to MetaLearn through FINNUT - Forskning og innovasjon i utdanningssektoren.

MetaLearn is anchored in the research group Analyzing and Assessing Linguistic Multicompetence (AALM) at Western Norway University of Applied Sciences.