What is the impact of metacognitive talking aloud strategies with mixed ability pupils on their ability to apply their grammatical knowledge in translation, and/or interpretation of unknown literary texts?

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Jones, Lorna
Martinez, José
Iorio, Giovanna
Issue Date
Educational Level
ISCED Level 3 Upper secondary education
Geographical Setting
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Background and purpose: Developing translation skills is a very important process of language teaching and learning which students can find difficult at times. The purpose of this project is to use the ‘thinking aloud’ methodology to develop students’ inner monologue when tackling translation tasks and literature analysis, making it more explicit whilst completing tasks and honing in more easily on misconceptions.
Aims: The aim is to explore the impact of ‘thinking aloud’ on the grammar understanding and literature text analysis of the pupils. It is also important to develop a methodology to tackle translation skills and literary analysis that could be used extensively with all year groups and that students could apply in future.
Study design or methodology: The teachers used research lesson study and based their study design across three observation cycles focusing on Sixth form lessons. 17 pupils were involved over three lessons, between the ages of 16 and 17. The teachers focused on using ’thinking aloud’ to develop students’ translation skills and literature analysis. The group was keen to use this ‘thinking aloud’ methodology with students with different academic ability. Prior to the lesson cycles, the teacher identified that the students would approach translation tasks according to their linguistic proficiency and also their level of confidence. Therefore, the teachers were keen to see different student approaches to the ‘thinking aloud’ methodology. The process involved post-lesson meeting amongst teachers to discuss findings and reflections. Students were also questioned about their reflections on the process.
Findings: Students approach translation tasks and text analysis according to their language proficiency and their level of confidence. More proficient students seemed initially reticent to use this methodology as they saw it as an unnecessary step. However, when reflecting about the lessons, all students, of all abilities, seemed to see the benefit of developing these skills both as a way of developing their translation and analytical skills as well as their oracy.
Implications for practice: All teachers agreed that they would use this approach with different year groups as a diagnostic exercise for ascertaining prior grammatical knowledge, to develop grammatical accuracy and to enhance students’ oracy. This methodology has been very well received in the department when it was presented during INSET days, which will help develop a collaborative approach amongst all teachers in the department to perfect this methodology. Perhaps this could have long-lasting implications such as influencing the teacher-training of MFL trainee teachers, if taken on board by many teachers in schools.
Keywords (free text)
oracy , metacognition , thinking aloud , translation , visible talk
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