Metalinguistic awareness, ma, grammar, preservice teachers, teacher preparation


Metalinguistic awareness (MA) in the context of the present study is the ability to deconstruct and analyze a language's intricate systems, and by doing so, better understand how these systems work. More specifically for the present study, the investigation focused on preservice teachers' MA in relation to grammar and its importance for their future students' understanding of language. Language is at the core of any content area in students' academic lives and it will continue to permeate all aspects of their studies at all ages. As such, language-related issues should be at the front and center of preservice teachers' preparation. The present study, a quasi-experimental one-group pretest-posttest (Shadish, Cook & Campbell, 2002) investigated the metalinguistic awareness of preservice teachers who were enrolled in a face-to-face, undergraduate applied linguistics course at an urban research university in the United States. The metalinguistic awareness in the scope of the present study was directly related to the grammar knowledge of participants, and it was measured by an adapted instrument called ALAT. The results of the current study demonstrate that overall increase of MA is feasible (as attested by the results from research question 1). Nevertheless, further investigations (research questions 2, 3, 4, and 5) demonstrated that teachers' levels of metalinguistic awareness vary significantly. These results echoed previous findings that demonstrated that preservice teachers are not language-knowledgeable enough to deal with myriad issues that involve language, both in relation to students who are native speakers of English and also concerning ELs (Kolln & Hancock, 2005; Nutta et al., 2012; Pappamihiell, 2007). Preservice teachers' lack higher level metalinguistic awareness, as evidenced by their limited ability to explain grammar errors and use proper metalanguage while doing so. The main implication of the present study lies in the recommendation that more can and should be done in order to ensure that preservice teachers are receiving the appropriate amount of language-oriented preparation during their college years. The present study offers a confirmatory perspective to previous research findings which found that preservice teachers are not knowledgeable enough in relation to language. Previous studies also pointed out to this lack of preparation as a generator of feelings of inadequacy and anxiety in preservice teachers while foreseeing their future students' language struggles. Nonetheless, the present study also demonstrates that improvement can be achieved in regard to MA teacher preparedness in relatively little amount of time, especially for recognition of grammatical items such as parts of speech and parts of sentence. However, the findings demonstrate that more time is needed to ensure better results for complex grammar analyses such as explanation of grammatical errors.


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Graduation Date





Purmensky, Kerry


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Education and Human Performance

Degree Program

Education; Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages








Release Date


Length of Campus-only Access

1 year

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Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)


Dissertations, Academic -- Education and Human Performance; Education and Human Performance -- Dissertations, Academic

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