Academic journal article International Journal of English Linguistics

Effect of Meta-Cognitive Strategy Training on Chinese EFL Learners' Reading Competence

Academic journal article International Journal of English Linguistics

Effect of Meta-Cognitive Strategy Training on Chinese EFL Learners' Reading Competence

Article excerpt

Abstract

For EFL learners, reading is one of the most important ways of language input. How to improve learners' reading competence has always been the concern of language teachers and researchers. The concept of meta-cognition is known as cognition about cognition. It is described as the knowledge and control of individual's thinking process and learning activities. The purpose of applying meta-cognitive strategies to English reading lies in improving learners' reading efficiency. This paper reports a research on Chinese EFL college students concerning the application of meta-cognitive strategies in their English reading. Statistics show the positive effect of meta-cognitive strategies on their English reading competence.

Keywords: English reading, meta-cognition, meta-cognitive strategy, meta-cognitive strategy training

1. Introduction

Among the four language skills (listening, speaking, reading and writing), the ability to read is considered one of the most important skills that college students need to acquire. Reading is the most important skill for students to achieve academic goals. How to improve students' English reading proficiency has long been a common concern of researchers and English teachers. According to College English Curriculum Requirements revised in 2007 in China, the basic requirement for reading includes that "students are expected to be able to employ effective reading strategies while reading." It is more important to teach them how to fish than to give them fish. But before we teach how to fish we should have some knowledge of the fishing areas students are in so that we can recommend some appropriate rods and baits to them, and meta-cognition, ever since its emergence in the 70's of last century, has always been one of the focuses of educational research. The concept of meta-cognition is put forward by John Flavell of Stanford University. Flavell (1976) used the term metamemory in regard to an individual's ability to manage and monitor the input, storage, search and retrieval of the contents of his own memory. Flavell invited the academic community to come forth with additional metamemory research, and this theme of meta-cognitive research has continued for more than thirty years. He implies with his statements that meta-cognition is intentional, conscious, foresighted, purposeful, and directed at accomplishing a goal or outcome. These implications have all been carefully scrutinized in subsequent research, and in some cases have been the subjects of controversy among researchers in meta-cognition. In his 1976 article, Flavell recognized that meta-cognition consisted of both monitoring and regulation aspects. It was here that the term meta-cognition was first formally used in the title of his paper.

Modern cognitive psychology has suggested that reading is a kind of active and complex psychological activity and a thinking process, in which the reader, based on his own knowledge, predicts, evaluates and affirms information. An effective reading process is not only a process of cognition, but also a process of regulation. Consequently, more emphasis in the field of reading comprehension has been put on the role of meta-cognitive awareness. English teaching in China has long been under the influence of behavioral theory, teacher's teaching concepts is to be renewed. The instruction of learning strategy has not been practically spread broadly. Reading activity not merely aims to understand words, sentences, or texts, an integration of the reader's previous knowledge, language competence and meta-cognitive strategies .Thus, learning about the strategies is not sufficient, students should also know how to apply them in reading. Moreover, the number of college students in China is on the rise nowadays. Consequently, teachers have to face a class of 50 to 80 students, or even more, whose English reading proficiency varies a lot. In order to adapt to the new teaching environment and attain the educational goal, teachers should consider how to foster students' ability to read effectively. …

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