Second Language Acquisition Metacognitive Listening Thesis

Task knowledge is stated to "acknowledge the successes or failures in one's learning. Person knowledge is related to one's learning abilities and knowledge about internal and external factors that affect the success of failure in one's learning." (Vandergrift, et al., 2006) Finally, strategy knowledge "is useful for achieving learning goals and appears to have the greatest impact on learning by helping learners to choose the strategies that they use." (Vandergrift, et al., 2006) the following figure lists the three factor of metacognitive knowledge and examples from listening.

Metacognitive Knowledge and Examples from Listening

Source: Vandergrift, et al. (2006)

The work of Vandergrift, et al. (2006) states that metacognitive knowledge is "in essence...both self-reflection and self-direction." As the individual reflects on their thinking and as the individual engages in the learning of a language, there are methods that can be adopted for more appropriate and effective learning. In fact, "there is extensive evidence that learners' metacognition can directly affect the process and the outcome of their learning." (Vandergrift, et al., 2006) Additionally, metacognition is also positively linked to motivation and self-efficacy. According to the work of Dornyei & Skehan, (2003); Paris & Winograd, (1990); Winne, (2001); and Zimmerman, (1990) as cited in the work of Vandergrift, et al. (2006). Nisbet and Shucksmith (1986) term metacognitive abilities as the 'seventh sense' and states that these abilities are a "mental characteristics shared by successful learners. Not only are these individuals aware of their own learning processes and perceptive of the demands of their learning tasks, they also have at their disposal a range of strategies that they apply and adapt in order to meet the requirements of different situations." (Vandergrift, et al., 2006)


The work of Andrew Cohen and Ernesto Macaro entitled: "Language Leaner Strategies: Thirty Years of Research and Practice" relates that the importance of listening to the foreign language that one is learning and even teaching is evidenced in a 30-year "shift toward interaction-based acquisition." (2007) Cohen and Macaro states that the preferred method of eliciting from learners the strategy used when listening have been 'think-aloud protocols'. (2007) Several various techniques have been utilized within the general method of 'think-aloud'. These authors state that some limitations have been reported by investigators in relation to 'think aloud' protocols during listening as follows:

1) Only conscious strategies can be reported;

2) Verbalization needs to take place as soon as possible after the event to limit forgetting;

3) the phase of the task will influence the type of strategy reported as will the difficulty of the task;

4) Researcher 'prompting' may affect elicitation; and 5) Triangulation methods (such as combining think-aloud with retrospective interviews) might provide more reliable data. (Cohen and Macaro, 2007)

In relation to use of strategy and the relationship that strategy has with other variables, Cohen and Macaro (2007) state that the relationship between variables that has garnered the most attention is that existing "between strategy use and successful listening comprehension." This is held by these authors to not be surprising in that "strategy use and successful performance is one of the main claims made by strategy theorists." (Cohen and Macaro, 2007)

This type of research is the investigation of 'successful listeners' versus 'unsuccessful listeners'. Measure of successful listening has been approached in various ways. Differences in strategy use by listening success is stated by Cohen and Macaro to have been reported in the work of Goh (1998) in which sixteen students were selected from a group of 80 to form two separate groups:

1) Higher listening ability; and 2) Lower listening ability.

Goh states findings that lower ability listeners "failed to use certain strategies that higher ability listeners did use successfully" as follows:

1) Contextualization: placing a key word in a familiar context to understand it, or relating an item to something from an earlier part of the passage;

2) Real-time assessment of input: assessing how important a word or phrase is to the understanding of the passage;

3) Comprehension evaluation: determining the accuracy and completeness of comprehension. (Cohen and Macaro, 2007)

This last strategy is quite different form 'comprehension monitoring' in that comprehension monitoring "takes place almost at the same time as listening, 'comprehension evaluation' seems to take place after listening and when some kind of interpretation has been made." (Cohen and Macaro, 2007)

Cohen and Macaro states that one of the only studies to control for lexical and vocabulary knowledge in examination of different levels of listening comprehension success was the work of Chien and Wei (1998) in a study which found "significant differences in strategy use both in terms of quantity and type, in relation to degree of listening success." (Cohen and Macaro, 2007) There was however stated to be some evidence that "students...


It is related by Cohen and Macaro that the relationship between variables has been explored between the awareness of strategies by the learner, the learner's deployment of strategies and the beliefs of the learner about listening. Vogely (1995) found, in an investigation of perceptions of university students about what constitutes a good listening and the comparison of this to the reported strategies used that characteristics of a good listener include the following:
1) Understanding gist;

2) Using background knowledge;

3) Vocabulary knowledge;

4) Word recognition;

5) Continuing listening when problems occurred; and 6) Using the next segment to understand the previous one. (as cited in Cohen and Macaro, 2007)

Vogely however, is stated to have "noticed a discrepancy between what the students believed and the strategies that they actually used." (Cohen and Macaro, 2007) Cohen and Macaro state that regardless of the problems that methodologically exist across the studies in this area of research, researcher have made identification of specific strategies which are "common to more proficient listeners" and these include:

1) Cognitive strategies (listening to chunks of language rather than focusing on individual words; and 2) Avoiding direct translation.

However, it is stated to be "the employment of metacognitive strategies..." that determines the successful or lack of success in the language learner's listening comprehension success. The importance of metacognition is also stated to emerge as "...the employment of metacognitive strategies, especially those involving comprehension monitoring." (Cohen and Macaro, 2007)

The work of Neil D. Anderson on L2 Learning Strategies relates that L2 strategies have been supported in the research of Hsiao and Oxford (2002) as being that which may be classified in a "systematic manner." (Anderson, 2005) Language learning strategies have been classified, according to Anderson as follows:

1) cognitive strategies (identifying, retaining and storing learning material including retrieval, rehearsal, and comprehension);

2) metacognitive strategies (preparing and planning, identifying, monitoring, orchestrating and evaluating strategy use;

3) mnemonic or memory related-strategies (memorization);

4) compensatory strategies (circumlocution strategies such as using a world you do know to describe the meaning of a word or phrase you do not know;

5) affective strategies (strategies for reducing anxiety);

6) social (self-encouragement, relaxation, and meditation, eliminating negative influences, creating positive strategies). (Anderson, 2005)

Anderson relates that there is some "overlap between affective strategies and motivating strategies." (Anderson, 2005)

The work of Fang Lv (2005) entitled: "Research into Effects of Fostering Metacognition Awareness upon the Listening Comprehension" relates an investigation of the effect of "fostering metacognition awareness upon listening comprehension on a passage level among college students of science and engineering" for the purpose of:

1) detecting ways to increase listener's metacognition awareness; and 2) finding out the correlation between listeners' metacognitive awareness and their listening proficiency." (Lv, 2005)

The work of Cheng-Yi Kelly Chang entitled: "Intuitive-Analysis and EFL Listening Strategies" (2005) reports the investigation of the relationship between learning styles and listening strategies using revised version of the Cognition Style Index and the Strategy Inventory of Learning Strategies. The data were reported to be collected from 98 EFL learners using self-report questionnaires." Chang states of learning styles that they are "...considered to be innate to individuals, they certainly affect their learning processes, including learning a second language. There may also be a significant difference in the strategies used by effective and ineffective EFL learners (. Effective EFL learners, generally speaking, use more listening strategies than do ineffective EFL learners." (2005)


This work stated an objective of answering the question of whether metacognitive learning strategies assist in the second language acquisition of listening comprehension. This work has reviewed several research studies and a compilation of studies of over thirty years of research in the work of Cohen and Macaro. Indeed, metacognitive listening strategies have been shown in research to effectively, efficiently, enhance the second language acquisition of individuals who use the metacognitive listening strategy in learning a second language. The work of Vandergrift has been reviewed who notes that there are four different learning types including cognitive learning. Vandergrift has informed…

Sources Used in Documents:


Anderson, Neil J. (2005) L2 Learning Strategies. Brigham Young University in Handbook of Research in Second Language Teaching and Learning (2005) Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Mahwah, New Jersey. LEA 2005.

Carrier, Karen a. (2003) Improving High School English Language Learners' Second Language Listening Through Strategy Instruction. Bilingual Research Journal 27:3 Fall 2003. Online available at

Chang, Cheng-Yi Kelly (2005) Intuitive-Analysis Style and EFL Listening Strategies. ARECLS E-Journal Nov 2005 Vol. 2. Online available at

Cohen, Andrew D. And Macaro, Ernesto (2007) Language Learner Strategies: Thirty Years of Research and Practice. Oxford University Press 2007.
Goh, Christine (2008) Metacognitive Instruction for Second Language Listening Development. RELC Journal Vol. 30 No. 2, 2008. Abstract Online SAGE Journals available at
Lv, Fang (2005) Research Into Effects of Fostering Metacognition Awareness upon the Listening Comprehension. Feb 2005 Vol. 3. No.2 U.S. China Foreign Language. ISSN1539-8080. USA. Online available at

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