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The Status Of Metalinguistic Knowledge In Relation To Language-learning Aptitude
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Our results further yield several suggestive insights into the status of metalinguistic knowledge in relation to language-learning aptitude. The correlations between (components of) metalinguistic knowledge and language-learning aptitude as measured by the MLAT as a whole were weak to moderate, with coefficients ranging from 0.34 to 0.42. It appears that the relationship can be attributed to a specific subtest, MLAT 4, which showed moderate significant correlations throughout (r = 0.41 to r = 0.45).
This finding is perfectly consistent with the expectation that a subtest tapping the analytically based component of aptitude will be related to metalinguistic knowledge, operationalised Links Of London Bracelets as L2 description/explanation ability and L2 language-analytic ability. While the correlational patterns obtained in the current study thus corroborate previous assumptions that (components of) language-learning aptitude as measured by the MLAT are related to L2 metalinguistic knowledge (Alderson et al., 1997; Elder et al., 1999; Ranta, 2002), the factor analytic results suggest that - at least in the case of the learners participating in the present study - metalinguistic knowledge can be regarded as a variable in its own right. The subcomponents of the complex construct of metalinguistic knowledge - correction ability, description ability, explanation ability, and language-analytic ability -clearly loaded on a single, separate component, thus setting these abilities apart from the various subcomponents of language-learning aptitude.
Performance on MLAT 4 is the subcomponent of language-learning aptitude that came closest to loading on the metalinguistic factor, as might be expected, but even this loading was very weak (see Table 2). Instead, performance on MLAT 4, which served as the template for the language-analytic section of the MLK test, loaded much more strongly on a different component than the analogous MLK test section. This result indicates that language analytic ability for LI and that for L2 can be distinguished. Taken together, the results are compatible with the assumption that, to a certain extent, MLAT 4 and the MLK test draw on similar mental processes, that is, the explicit identification of categories and relations between categories. Moreover, both tests clearly deal with the same cognitive domain, namely, language. However, each test requires knowledge about a different language, since MLAT 4 is based on English (the participants' LI), whereas the MLK tests were based on either German or Spanish (the participants' L2s). Hence, it appears that LI language-analytic ability and L2 metalinguistic knowledge are related, yet clearly distinguishable.
By contrast, no such distinction was in evidence for working memory for language; in the principal components analysis, LI and L2 reading span clearly loaded on the same component. A possible interpretation of this finding is that a higher-level mental faculty, such as analytic reasoning about language, is more domain-specific than a lower level and thus more Links Of London Necklaces generic mental faculty like online storage and processing of linguistic information, since the more generic faculty ultimately subserves the higher-level faculty. This explanation would be consistent with the proposal that skilled L2 users may draw on the same working memory resources during both LI and L2 processing (Miyake & Friedman, 1998). As the participant sample of the present study did not include beginners, performance patterns averaged across the entire group may well have shown this convergence of LI and L2 working memory processes. As it would be inaccurate to describe every single participating learner as an advanced L2 user, however, correlations between LI and L2 reading span were found to be moderate, thus indicating that the two abilities are not entirely convergent.
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