The relationship between metacognitive awareness of reading strategies and reading proficiency : the case of Tibetan EFL learners in China
Although several studies have revealed a positive relationship between metacognition/ metacognitive awareness and L2 learning outcomes (e.g., Anderson, 1991; Carrell, 1989; Chamot & El-Dinary, 1999; Goh, 1997; Vandergrift, 2003; Zhang, 2001), a number of unexpected findings have been reported (e.g., Glenberg & Epstein, 1987; Leonsario & Nelson, 1990; Pressley & Ghatala, 1990; Swanson, 1990), which are inconsistent with our knowledge about metacognition. These mixed findings have raised the issue of how to determine metacognitive awareness effectively and reliably before we talk about its relationship with language performances. Furthermore, although considerable research has been carried out on Chinese L2 learners' reading strategies (e.g., Feng & Mokhtari, 1998; Li & Munby, 1996; Zhang, 1999, 2001), and metacognition of reading strategies (e.g., Zhang, 1999, 2001, 2002), the subjects in most of these studies were in target-language contexts other than Mainland China itself. Even though there are some studies on Chinese EFL learners' learning strategies in Mainland China (e.g., Gu, 2003; Jiang, 1994; Liu, 1996; Zhang, 2001), they look at Chinese EFL learners as a homogeneous group, and few studies have been carried out in China focusing on learning strategies of Chinese minority EFL learners. This study, therefore, is focusing on Tibetan EFL learners in China, who constitute the largest group of minority EFL learners in China, and aiming at understanding their metacognitive awareness of reading strategies, analyzing the relationship between their metacognitive awareness and their reading proficiency, and also, comparing the applicability and validity of two published measures on metacognitive awareness in ESL or EFL contexts. A total of 46 Tibetan EFL learners from the Southwest University for Nationalities in China were involved in the study. They completed two published metacognitive measures MARSI and MAI, and the reading subtest of the SLEP test. Two Tibetan EFL learners who scored high on the reading subtest and the metacognitive awareness measures and two others who scored low on the reading subtest and the metacognitive awareness measures were selected to do think-aloud reading with two authentic texts. Analyses of the data revealed a positive relationship between Tibetan EFL learners' metacognitive awareness and their reading proficiency, with MAI as a better measure of Tibetan EFL learners' metacognitive awareness and a better predictor of their reading proficiency.