METACOGNITIVE READING AWARENESS IN ESL CONTEXT


By. Firman Parlindungan

ABSTRACT

The focus area of’ this project is on reading comprehension skill in English as a Second Language (ESL). The points of concern in this project are (1) how to understand the overall meaning of a text; (2) how to guess at word meanings; and (3) how to integrate the information in the text with what reader already knows. The three points above have brought together by administrated Metacognitive Reading Awareness Questionnaire (MRAQ) in ESL context which is modified from Carrell’s research on metacognitive awareness and second language reading (Carrell, 1989). The questionnaire of metacognitive reading strategies which is taken from Taraban, Rynearson, and Kerr’s study (2004) is given as an initial step to give the intervention. The researcher could give and teach some reading strategies to assist the subjects in order to solve points of difficulties in the reading comprehension.

1. Introduction
Reading academic texts in English is an essential ability to survive in university lives mainly for students of English as a Foreign Language (EFL) and English as a Second Language (ESL) since they have responsibility to carry a great range of assignments that depend on reading (Levine, Ferenz, & Revez, 2000).
Therefore this project is designed to know the participant’s difficulties in reading academic texts and give instructional interventions which focus on teaching some metacognitive reading strategies in order to solve the participant’s problems in reading comprehension, particularly in academic English texts.

These instructional interventions given in this project hopefully can increase the participant’s ability in using metacognitive reading strategies in order to comprehend academic English texts with different purposes of reading. Moreover, the process of giving instructional interventions by the researcher in this project will likely contribute more understanding in the reading comprehension, specifically the use of. metacognitive reading strategies, and the knowledge gained will be used as thought and reflection during professional career as a teacher.

A simple definition of reading is that it is likely a process whereby someone looks and understands what has been written. The key word here is “understand”, so merely reading aloud without any longer understanding doesn’t count as reading. it doesn’t mean a foreign language learner or indeed any reader needs to understand everything rather than to extract the essential information from a text. William (1990:3) the reader is however not simply a passive object fed with letters, words, and sentences, but is actively working on the text, and is also able to arrive at understanding without looking at every letter and word.

In brief, reading is sometimes regarded as the result of the interaction between the perception of graphic symbols that represent language, the reader’s language skills and their background knowledge. It means that reading process is occurring whenever there is an existing interaction between the reader and printed text. Interaction in such a case accounts for the existing of an active action of a reader in bringing meaning from his cultural background knowledge to and getting the meaning from the printed text. However, there is a case where one can verbalize any word in a text but he cannot answer any question from it.in this case, the reading of course doesn’t exist anymore instead the reader is able to comprehend the word, to decode the symbols or to relate the sound to the symbols.

In accordance with the statement above, Grellet (1990:7) defines that reading is a constant process of guessing, and what one brings to the text is often more important than what one finds in it. the activity of reading obviously requires both purpose and comprehension. The following specific research questions addressed in this project are listed below.
1. What the participant’s difficulties in reading comprehension, particularly academic English texts?
2. What metacognitive reading strategies given in order to improve the participant’s difficulties in reading comprehension, particularly academic English texts?
3. Do the participant’s improve her performance in reading comprehension, particularly academic texts after giving instructional interventions which focus on metacognitive reading strategies?

2. Literature Review
2.1. Metacognition
As a process, reading requires not only the understanding of vocabulary but also the prior knowledge of what the reader read about. According to Flavell (1976), who invented the term “metacognition”, (as cited in Forrest-Pressley & Waller. 1984:1), metacognition refers to “one’s knowledge concerning one’s own cognitive processes and products or anything related to them”. It means that a student who metacognitively active will aware of his own cognition (i.e., mental processes) and demonstrate strategy consciously in the learning process in order to accomplish the learning (Bruning, Schraw, Norby, & Ronning, 2004). Therefore, metacognition will likely to give beneficial phases in learning process, particularly by helping students to plan and use resource more effectively, to monitor their learning progress accurately, and to evaluate their performance (Schraw, 1998). Principally, there are two interrelated dimensions of metacognitive ability: “knowledge of cognition and regulation of cognition” (Brown as cited in Bruning et al., 2004:81).

Knowledge of cognition refers to what people know about cognitive processes and how they can be controlled (Bruning et al., 2004). As suggested by Brown, knowledge of cognition includes at least three different components of metacognitive awareness (as cited in Bruning et al., 2004). The first component is declarative knowledge, where someone is able to know ‘about’ a thing. For example, a student knows that skimming is a reading strategy. The second component is procedural knowledge, where someone may know ‘how’ to do thing. Here, a skilled reader will likely to apply the various strategies in reading comprehension, such as “taking notes, slowing down for important information, skimming unimportant information, using imagery, summarizing main ideas, and using periodic self-testing (Bruning et al., 2004:81). The third component is conditional knowledge, where someone knows ‘why’ and ‘when’ to use a strategy. For example, an effective student is aware of when to skim a text and why (Schraw, 1998).

Regulation of cognition refers to “a set of activities that help students control their learning” (Schraw, 1998:114). The implementation of regulation in reading includes students’ awareness of and capability to identify messages in a text, the application of different strategy in different purposes of reading, and students’ ability to separate important from unimportant information (Carell, 1989). Typically, regulation of cognition has three components: planning, regulation, and evaluation (Jacobs & Paris as cited in Bruning et al., 2004).

Planning involves the selection of proper strategies and the allocation of resource that affect performance. For example, a student may make predictions before reading, do strategy sequencing, and allocate time and attention before beginning a task (Schraw, 1998). Regulation includes “monitoring and self testing skills necessary to control learning” (Bruning et al., 2004:82). Demonstrating periodic self-testing in reading is one good example. Evaluation refers to “appraising the products and regulatory processes of one’s learning” (Bruning et al., 2004:82). The example is when a student is able to re-evaluate goals and conclusions. In short, metacognition is one vital contributing factor to learning to learn.

2.2 Metacognitive Reading Awareness and Strategies
Reading requires language comprehension, some sort of semantic processing, and the ability to understand the meaning of the visual symbols which provide the form of language to be comprehended. Reading, per se, must involve not only particular type of language behavior, but also special form of non-verbal thinking (i.e., metacognition) (Waterhouse, 1980). Furthermore, the crucial issue of the role of metacognitive awareness in reading will be stated by knowing and understanding two dimensions of metacognitive ability, which have discussed above. Therefore, it is expected to make a student aware of what is needed to perform effectively, and then it is possible to take steps to achieve the goals of reading condition more effectively. It is also asserted that the student will be able to conceptualize the reading process by thinking what she is doing in reading (Carrell, 1989). Forrest-Pressley & Waller (1984) suggested that in term; of metacognition, reading is not merely decoding process from print to sound and comprehending the written material, but it also involves advanced reading strategies and knowledge about those skills and how to control them. When skilled readers decide to read, they usually have particular purpose in mind. Therefore, they do more than decode a word; the skilled readers know that there are various ways to decode and can do something on their decoding activities, such as monitor them, change and then predict their sufficiency.

Barnett who investigated the relationships among reading comprehension, strategy use, and perceived strategy use (as cited in Carell, 1989:122-123) concluded that “students who effectively consider and remember context as they read (i.e., strategy use) understand more of what they read than students who employ this strategy less or less well. Moreover, students who think they use those strategies considered most productive [i.e., perceived strategy use] actually do read through context better and understand more than do those who do not think they use such strategies”. Moreover, according to Brown (1980), the activities that the advanced readers engage in include: (1) clarifying the purposes of reading (i.e., understanding the task demands), (2) identifying the important aspects of the message, (3) allocating attention to relevant information, (4) monitoring activities continuously to determine if comprehension is occurring, (5) engaging in review and self-testing, (6) taking corrective action when failures in comprehension is occurred, and (7) recovering from distractions and disruptions. Brown then asserted that the skilled readers learn to evaluate strategy selections based on the situations, such as the goal demands.

2.3 Metacognition and Comprehension in Second Language Acquisition
Forrest-Pressley and Waller (1984) proposed that metacognitive aspects of comprehension include knowing when readers have understood what they have read, knowing what they do not understand, and being able to use this knowledge to monitor comprehension. Further, they said that advanced readers can monitor their own reading comprehension, and if necessary, modify reading activities to increase comprehension. The purposeful use of reading strategies will most likely to increase reading efficiency since they are able to know how to read in different ways for different purposes and can do it properly. It also has been suggested that achievement in any given reading situation depends not only on the flexibility of using reading skills, but also on the capacity to monitor the progress of reading in order to correct the failures of comprehension (Brown, 1980). Then, it is argued that the ability to monitor comprehension depends upon what a reader knows about the comprehension processes.

In principle, conscious control and awareness during reading comprehension is influenced by several factors (Collin as cited in Yin & Agnes, 2001) The first factor is textual features of the particular text read, such as the syntax, vocabulary, clarity of the author’s designation, arrangement ideas in the text, and the reader’s interest and familiarity with the text may influence reading comprehension. The second factor is background knowledge of the text will likely facilitate reader to have greater control of strategies use. The last factor is the maturity of the reader is also essential. In addition, the mature readers have the flexibility in applying reading skills, such as have the ability to use strategies of reading for a purpose.

The ability includes skimming and reviewing in order to extract information to achieve a particular purpose. The metacognitive aspects of these advanced strategies involve knowing that the readers will read differently depend on the situation, that there are several ways to help retention, and that some strategies are more appropriate and efficient that other in any particular situation (Forrest-Pressley and Waller, 1984).

Devine (as cited in Imtiaz, 2004) who investigated second language readers perception about their reading in second language suggested that younger and less skilled readers tend to focus on reading as decoding process. Therefore, novice readers need to be trained to use appropriate strategies since the goal of strategy use is to “affect the learner’s motivational or affective state or the way in which the learner selects, acquires, or organizes, or integrates new information” (Imtiaz, 2004:35). Moreover, Qubukcu, (2008) asserted that unskilled readers can become skilled readers when they are given instruction in effective strategies and taught to monitor and check their comprehension while reading. An effective reading instruction program involves “the identification of complementary strategies that are modelled by an expert and achieved by the learner in a context reinforcing the usefulness of such strategies” (Palincsar in Qubukcu, 2008:86). Based on Forrest-Pressley and Waller’s study (1984), they concluded that performance on advanced reading skills such as comprehension and strategies expands with level and reading ability, and the ability to monitor comprehension (also to predict efficiency) and to apply appropriate strategy about comprehension develops with level and reading ability.

3. Method
This project is a case study approach (i.e., qualitative). It is because the project gives an opportunity for one aspect of a problem to be examined in more depth within a restricted time line (Bell, 1999). The participant who involved in the project was a 30 years old Indonesian woman who taking Master of Education (first year) in Flinders University of South Australia. In this situation (in Australia), English is her second language. The researcher concentrated on reading skill area, particularly comprehending academic English texts and attempted to identify the participant’s difficulties in this area. There were two questionnaires employed in the project. The first questionnaire was the Metacognitive Reading Awareness Questionnaire, (MRAQ) which was modified from Carrell (1989) in order to know the participant difficulties in reading comprehension, particularly academic English texts. The second questionnaire was the Metacognitive Reading Strategies Questionnaire (MRSQ) which was taken from Taraban, Kerr, and Rynearson (2004) in order to know metacognitive reading strategies that used by the participant.

The procedures that are carried out in this project:

3.1 Data collection 1
a. The participant is asked to complete one academic passage (taken form an IELTS preparation book) as a pre-test.
b. The participant is asked to respond to the MRAQ in order to locate her difficulties in reading comprehension, especially academic English texts. In addition, the participant responded to a brief questionnaire to obtain the participant’s background information about her personal information and year of studying English before this project began.
c. The researcher evaluated the pre-test and the MRAQ in order to look for the major difficulties of the participant.

3.2 Data collection 2
a. The participant is asked to complete another academic passage, which also taken from an IELTS preparation book.
b. The participant is asked to respond to the MRSQ in order to assess the use of these metacognitive reading strategies.
c. The researcher then evaluates the test and the’MRSQ.

3.3 Data collection 3
a. The researcher gives some strategies related to the participant’s difficulties in comprehending academic English test, which based on The Learning Strategies Handbook by Chamot, Barnhardt, El-Dinary, and Robbins (1999).
b. The participant is asked to complete a test on academic reading which taken from an official IELTS practice test as a post-test.
c. The researcher evaluates the post-test.

4. Discussion
This project involves an investigation and instructional interventions of metacognitive reading strategy usage. Some previous scholarly studies (Brown, 1980; Schraw, 1998) present that metacogmtion contributes to learning particularly by helping the participant to monitor and regulate her cognitive performance (i.e., in this project was engaging in review and self-testing during reading process). Brown (1980) and Forrest-Pressley and Waller (1984) also presents the explanation about how metacognition is transformed into reading strategies and how it related to reading comprehension. Strategies such as monitor their own reading comprehension, activating background knowledge are the examples of metacognitive reading strategies involved in reading comprehension (Collin as cited in Yin & Agnes, 2001). Furthermore, the results of the studies generally show that the learners are benefit from using metacognitive reading strategy (Carrell, 1989; Yin & Agnes, 2001; Imtiaz, 2004; Cubukcu, 2008).

Many people sometimes think that the term of metacognitive is as same as metacognition. It refers to a useful skill where the learners learn something by their awareness of the knowledge and how they can approach it through cognitive process. As Livingston, J. A (1997) assumed that metacognitive is an approach of someone which plays an essential role in acquiring a new thing by his automatic awareness of his own knowledge and his ability to understand, control, and manipulate his own cognitive processes. This metacognitive process will be most effective when the learner acquire the knowledge continually and automatically because the learner will not maximize some of the effort of the working memory and it also will make the cognitive skill less efficient if it is not automatic and unconscious.

In learning a metacognitive skill, learners usually go through some stages (Pressley, Borkowski, & Schneider, 1987):
1. Having a motivation to learn a metacognitive process. This occurs when the learners believe that they will get many advantages from applying the process.
2. Focusing on the activities that show the useful of metacognitive. It can occur through modeling and sometimes during personal experience.
3. Self-talk about the metacognitive process. It can be from their interactions with others, but the best way is talking to them. This self-talk gives some purposes:
o It enables them to understand and encode the process.
o It enables them to practice the process.
o It enables them to obtain feedback and to make adjustments regarding their effective use of the process.
o It enables them to transfer the process to new situations beyond those in which it has already been used.
4. Beginning to use the process without even being aware to do so.

5. Conclusions
The results of this case study suggest some further directions. In order to develop metacognitive skill, teachers need to use scaffold instruction strategies that based on four processes: planning, monitoring, problem solving, and evaluating (Chamot, Barnhardt, El-Dinary, & Robbins, 1999). In addition, the metacognitive strategies must be taught, using / explicit systematic instruction and provide learnersjbe (Schraw7″T998). Since metacognition requires higher order skills, the implementation will need great effort and amount of time. Therefore, the basic or factual skills may be as a basis of a specific unit of instruction. However, the strategies themselves are not stardust. It is how the teachers teach them and put their value together in students’ learning.

6. References
Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship. (2006). Visas, immigration and refugees. Retrieved June 18,2010, from http://www.immi.gov.au/students/english-requirements. htm.
Brown, A. L. (1980). Metacognition development and reading. In R. J, Spiro, B. C. Bruce 6 W. F. Brewer (Eds.), Theoretical issues in reading comprehension (pp. 453-481). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Bruning, R. H., Schraw, G. J., Norby, M. M., & Ronning, R. R. (2004). Cognitive psychology and instruction (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ; Pearson.
Carrell, P. L. (1989), Metacognitive awareness and second language reading. The Modern Language Journal, 73(2), 121-134.
Chamot, A. U., Barnhardt, S., El-Dinary, P. B., & Robbins, J. (1999). The learning strategic, handbook. NY: Pearson Education.
Coley, M. (1999). The English language entry requirements of Australian universities for students of non-English speaking background. Higher Education Research & Development, 18(1), 7-17.
Cubukcu, F. (2008). How to enhance reading comprehension through metacognitive strategies. The Journal of International Social Research, 1(2), 83-93.
Forrest-Pressley, D. L., & Waller, T. G. (1984). Cognition, metacognition, andreading. New York: Spinger-Verlag,
Imtiaz, S. (2004). Metacognitive strategies of reading among ESL learners. South Asian Language Review, 14(1&2), 34-43.
Levine, A., Ferenz, 0., & Reves, T. (2000). EFL academic reading and modern technology: how can we turn our students into independent critical readers? TESL-EJ, 4(4).
Schraw, G. (1998). Promoting general metacognitive awareness. Instructional Science, 26, 113-125.
Taraban, R., Rynearson, K., & Kerr, M. S. (2004). Analytic and pragmatic factors in college students’ metacognitive reading strategies. Reading Psychology, 25(2), 67-81.
Waterhouse, L. H. (1980). The implications of theories of language and thought for reading. In F. B. Murray (Ed.), Language awareness and reading (pp. 1-22). Newark, Delaware, US: International Reading Association (IRA).
Yin, W. M., & Agnes, C. S. C. (2001). Knowledge and use of metacognitive strategies. Retrieved June 20, 2010, from http://www.aare.edu.au/OIpap/won01419.htm.

One thought on “METACOGNITIVE READING AWARENESS IN ESL CONTEXT

  1. I had found your blog when I tried to complete my sources to present “Cognitive Issues in Reading for my reading class.

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