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Language teaching should not only give learners opportunities to develop their proficiency in a second language but should also enable them to develop their cognitive skills. I hypothesize that the implementation of teaching methods based on teaching unknown languages (pluralistic approaches) helps students develop their metalinguistic competence, a transferable competence we assume independent from the languages used. Furthermore, being confronted to unknown languages without a purpose of learning allows students to apprehend languages differently.
I have explored the educational benefits of such pluralistic approaches on different components of the metalinguistic competence. During the school year 2011-2012, teachers of five year-7 classes led nine sessions of pluralistic approaches: three sessions in Dutch, three in Italian and three in Finnish. 88 students performed, in turn, a metasemantic, a metasyntactic and a metaphonological reflection in groups of four. Group sheets were completed and the verbalization of their discussion was recorded and analyzed, both qualitatively and quantitatively. I want to understand, following Anderson’s research (1995), how students manage to identify relevant solutions in L1 and L2, enabling them to solve the problem they face in the L3 they are discovering. Presumably, the process of proceduralisation helps students develop their metalinguistic competence which, in turn, should enable them to improve their proficiency in the L2 (English) they are learning.
In this presentation, I will first present the theoretical framework before approaching the mixed methodology used. Proof will be discusses as to the enhanced implementation of learning strategies and the development of their metalinguistic competence.