Metalinguistic Knowledge And Formal Functional Proficiency In English: The Case Of Basic Education Stage Learning In Jordan
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The present study aimed at assessing Jordanian 10th graders' metalinguistic knowledge of 15 English grammatical concepts or categories via rule description and exemplification as well as the link between the achieved metalinguistic knowledge and the students' proficiency in using the same categories or their exponents in formally and situationally - oriented contexts. The study also attempted to assess, though peripherally, the accessibility of the 15 categories to the target learners linguistic use in formal and situational. communicative contexts. The 15 categories were presented to 233 students in four corresponding tasks. Task 1 elicited descriptive metalinguistic knowledge, and task 2 elicited exemplary metalinguistic knowledge, while tasks 3 and 4 demanded formal use and communicative use of the 15 categories, respectively. The papers were then sorted into two groups according to the students' total grade on Tasks 1 and 2. The papers which scored higher on Task 1 represented the descriptive metalinguistic group, and those which scored higher on Task 2. the exemplary metalinguistic group, the results of these two groups were compared along with both the other two tasks. A prototypical application of tasks 1 and 2 revealed the neutrality of gender with regard to metalinguistic know ledge acquisition of either f\pe. It was found that Jordanian 10th grades are aware of a considerable amount of metalinguistic knowledge of both r>pes, with exemplary knowledge being more substantial than descriptive knowledge. It was also found that the exemplary group was significantly more successful at using the categories both formally and situationally than the descriptive group. Both groups, however, were more successful at the formal use than the communicative use of the categories. Moreover, although metalinguistic knowledge in its own right cannot lead to acquisition in the absence of using comprehensible input in communicative activities, the results of the study manifested significant positive correlations, which suggests a facilitative role for metalinguistic know ledge in the enhancement of language learning. Finally, the variable acquisitional levels of the target categories in the given formal and situational contexts imply their disparate accessibility to learners. The discrepancies in acquisition were ascribed to the type and quality of instruction as well as the amount of exposure to and complexity of the respective category. The studv concluded with some instruction-related recommendations.