The role of metalinguistic awareness in the development of a semiotic apprenticeship
The current thesis explores the role played by metalinguistic awareness in language acquisition/learning and seeks to develop a theoretical framework in which the integration of 'knowledge about language' (KAL) in the school curriculum can be clarified in terms of curriculum planning and pedagogic practice. Chapter 1 unravels the confusion surrounding terms such as metalinguistic 'awareness' and/or 'consciousness' by relating them to the discussion on metacognition currently in vogue in cognitive psychology. A taxonomy of theoretical models is considered. Chapter 2 relates differences in the definition of metalinguistic awareness and its function in language acquisition/learning to the theoretical models outlined in Chapter 1. A socio-cultural viewpoint, it is argued, which views metalinguistic awareness arising out of the progressive decontextualisation of functional variants, is the most useful in interpreting existing data. Chapter 3 seeks to build on Chapter 2 by developing a more elaborated model of the role of metalinguistic awareness in the emergence of 'parasitic' language skills within a socio-cultural paradigm. The model examines the interdependence of skill and knowledge in the child's expanding linguistic repertoire and suggests a taxonomy of 'meta' processes facilitating such an expansion. Chapter 4 addresses the variability of metalinguistic skills among children in terms of their semiotic experience and, largely through a reconsideration of Bernstein's theory of codes, explores the implications of such variability for educational development. After a critical review of past practice, Chapter 5 proposes guidelines for the integration of KAL into the curriculum based upon the notion of the learner as 'reflective practitioner'. Chapter 6 concretises this approach by seeking to link differences in pedagogy between L1 and L2, and within L2 between second and foreign language learning, with differences in the extent of 'reflective practice' required. In conclusion, tentative suggestions are considered regarding the implications of such an approach for Initial Teacher Education.