The Dilemma of Metacognitive Intervention and EFL listening: Is L1 a Panacea in EFL Contexts?

Document Type : Original Article


1 Department of English, Islamic Azad University, Qaemshahr Branch, Qaemshahr, Iran.

2 Department of English, Islamic Azad University, Qaemshahr Branch, Qaemshahr, Iran



Listening has recently attracted the attention of both researchers and practitioners worldwide (Renandya & Hu, 2018), and research into L2 listening strategy use has recently tended to focus on metacognitive strategies (Lynch & Mendelsohn, 2020), This study investigated the comparative effect of L1/L2-mediated metacognitive intervention (MI) on the IELTS listening comprehension performance and metacognitive awareness of English as a foreign language (EFL) learners in Iran. The participants were 540 upper-intermediate EFL listeners in three groups, ranging from 17 to 28 years of age. The experimental groups (Ex1=180 / Ex2=180) went through a guided lesson plan in metacognition in English and Persian for twelve weeks, which focused on planning, monitoring, and evaluation. The control group (CG = 180), also instructed by the same teacher, listened to the same texts without any guided attention to the process. The MALQ and an actual IELTS test were used before and after the intervention to track the changes in metacognitive awareness and listening performance. The overall results showed that MI caused a considerable variance in the listening performance and the metacognitive awareness of learners in both experimental groups. The Post Hoc multiple comparison results of the three groups also illustrated that the medium for the delivery of the metacognitive intervention (L1) assisted the listeners in experimental group one, who went through L1-mediated metacognitive intervention, to outperform their peers in experimental group two, who were taught in L2, and the control group, who were taught conventionally.


Allan, D. (2004). Oxford placement tests 2: Test pack. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Antón, M., & DiCamilla, F. J. (1999). Socio‐cognitive functions of L1 collaborative interaction in the L2 classroom. The Modern Language Journal, 83(2), 233–247.
Auerbach, E. (2016). Reflections on Auerbach (1993), Reexamining English only in the ESL
classroom. TESOL Quarterly, 50, 936–939.
Bozorgian, H. (2014) The role of metacognition in the development of EFL learners’ listening
skill. International Journal of Listening, 28(3), 149–161.
Bozorgian, H., & Fakhri Alamdari, E. (2018). Multimedia listening comprehension: Metacognitive instruction or metacognitive instruction through dialogic interaction. ReCALL, 30(1), 131–152.
Bozorgian, H., & Muhammadpour, M. (2020). Metacognitive intervention: High WMC learners’ listening performance and metacognitive awareness. Foreign Language Research Journal, 9(4), 1055–1084.
Bozorgian, H., & Pillay, H. (2013). Enhancing foreign language learning through listening strategies delivered in L1: An experimental study. International Journal of Instruction, 6(1), 105–122.
Bozorgian, H., Yaqubi, B., & Muhammadpour, M. (2020). Metacognitive intervention and awareness: Listeners with low working memory capacity. International Journal of Listening.
Butzkamm, W. (2003). We only learn language once. The role of the mother tongue in FL classrooms: Death of a dogma. The Language learning journal, 28(1), 29–39.
Carless, D. (2008). Student use of the mother tongue in the task-based classroom. ELT journal, 62(4), 331–338.
Chen, C. C., & Huang, C. T. (2011). Raising EFL college students’ metacognitive awareness about listening. Paper presented at the NYSTESOL 41st Annual Conference, Melville, NY.
Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences (2nd ed.). Hillsdale, NY: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Cook, V. (2001). Using the first language in the classroom. Canadian Modern Language Review, 57(3), 402–423.
Cross, J. (2015). Metacognition in L2 listening: Clarifying instructional theory and practice. TESOL Quarterly, 49(4), 883–892.
Cummins, J. (2007). Rethinking monolingual instructional strategies in multilingual classrooms. Canadian Journal of Applied Linguistics, 10(2), 221–240.
De la Campa, J. C., & Nassaji, H. (2009). The amount, purpose, and reasons for using L1 in L2 classrooms. Foreign Language Annals, 42(4), 742–759.
Edstrom, A. (2006). L1 use in the L2 classroom: One teacher's self-evaluation. Canadian Modern Language Review, 63(2), 275–292.
Ellis, R., & Shintani, N. (2014). Exploring language pedagogy through second language acquisition research. London: Routledge.
Field, J. (2008). Guest editor’s introduction emergent and divergent: A view of second language listening research. System, 36, 2–9.
Goh, C. C. (2008). Metacognitive instruction for second language listening development: Theory, practice and research implications. RELC Journal, 39(2), 188–213.
Goh, C. C. (2018). Metacognition in second language listening. The TESOL Encyclopedia of English Language Teaching, 1–7.
Goh, C. C., & Hu, G. (2014). Exploring the relationship between metacognitive awareness and listening performance with questionnaire data. Language Awareness, 1–20.
Graham, S., & Macaro, E. (2008). Strategy instruction in listening for lower‐intermediate learners of French. Language learning, 58(4), 747–783.
Graham, S., & Santos, D. (2015). Strategies for second language listening: Current scenarios and improved pedagogy. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Hall, G., & Cook, G. (2012). Own-language use in language teaching and learning: State of the art. Language Teaching, 45(3), 271–308.
Harding, L., Alderson, J. C., & Brunfaut, T. (2015). Diagnostic assessment of reading and listening in a second or foreign language: Elaborating on diagnostic principles. Language Testing, 32(3), 317–336.
Harley, B. (2000). Listening strategies in ESL: Do age and L1 make a difference? TESOL Quarterly, 34(4), 769–777.
Kellerman, E. (1995). Crosslinguistic influence: Transfer to nowhere? Annual Review
of Applied Linguistics
, 15, 125–50.
Krashen, S., & Terrell, T. (1983). The natural approach: Language acquisition in the classroom. Oxford: Pergamon Press.
Littlewood, W. (2014). Communication-oriented teaching: Where are we now? Where do we go from here? Language Teaching, 47, 249–362.
Littlewood, W. & B. H. Yu (2011). First language and target language in the foreign language classroom. Language Teaching, 44, 64–77. https://doi.10.1017/S0261444809990310
Long, M. (1996). The role of the linguistic environment in second language acquisition. In
W. Ritchie, & T. Bhatia (Eds.), Handbook of second language acquisition (pp. 413–468). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
Lynch, T., & Mendelsohn, D. (2020). Listening. In N. Schmitt, & M. P. H. Rodgers (Eds.), An introduction to Applied Linguistics (pp. 223–239), New York, USA: Routledge.
Macaro, E. (2009). Teacher use of codeswitching in the second language classroom: Exploring ‘optimal’ use. In M. Turnbull and J. Dailey-O’Cain (Eds.), First language use in second and foreign language learning (pp. 35–49). Salisbury: UK.
Macaro, E., Graham, S., & Woore, R. (2016). Improving foreign language teaching: Towards a
research-based curriculum and pedagogy
. Abingdon: Routledge.
Maftoon, P., & Fakhri Alamdari, E. (2020). Exploring the effect of metacognitive strategy instruction on metacognitive awareness and listening performance through a process-based approach. International Journal of Listening, 34(1), 1–20.
Mahdavi, N., & Miri, M. (2017). Co-shaping metacognitive awareness and developing listening comprehension through process-based instruction. International Journal of Listening, 33(1), 53–70.
Mendelsohn, D. (1995). Applying learning strategies in the second/foreign language listening comprehension lesson. In D. Mendelsohn, and J. Rubin (eds.), A guide for the teaching of second language listening. (pp. 132–50). San Diego: Dominie Press.
Rahimi, M., & Katal, M. (2013). The impact of metacognitive instruction on EFL learners’ listening comprehension and oral language proficiency. Journal of Teaching Language Skills, 5(2), 69–90. https://doi.10.22099/jtls.2013.1555
Renandya, W. A., & Hu, G. (2018). L2 listening in China: An examination of current practice. In A. Burns, & J. Siegel (Eds.), International perspectives on teaching the four skills in ELT (pp. 37–50). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.
Richards, J. C. (2009). Teaching listening and speaking. Singapore: SEAMEO
Regional Language Centre.
Sali, P. (2014). An analysis of the teachers' use of L1 in Turkish EFL classrooms. System, 42, 308–318.
Santos, D. & Graham, S. (2018).What teachers say about listening and its pedagogy: A comparison between two countries. In A. Burns, & J. Siegel (Eds.), International perspectives on teaching the four skills in ELT (pp. 21–35). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.
Shin, J., Dixon, Q. L., & Choi, Y. (2019). An updated review on use of L1 in foreign language classrooms, Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 41(5), 406–419.
Stables, A., & Wikeley, F. (1999). From bad to worse? Pupils' attitudes to modern foreign languages at ages 14 and 15. The Language Learning Journal, 20(1), 27–31.
Storch, N., & Wigglesworth, G. (2003). Is there a role for the use of the L1 in an L2 setting? TESOL Quarterly, 37(4), 760–770.
Swain, M. (1985). Communicative competence: Some roles of comprehensible input and comprehensible output in its development. In S. Gass, & C. Madden (Eds.), Input in second language acquisition (pp. 235–253). Rowley, MA: Newbury House.
Swain, M., & Lapkin, S. (2013). A Vygotskian sociocultural perspective on immersion education: The L1/L2 debate. Journal of Immersion and Content-based Language Education, 1(1), 101–129.
Tanewong, S. (2018). Metacognitive pedagogical sequence for less-proficient Thai EFL listeners: A comparative investigation. RELC Journal, 50(1), 86–103.
Thoms, J., Liao, J., & Szustak, A. (2005). The use of L1 in an L2 on-line chat activity. Canadian Modern Language Review, 62(1), 161–182.
Tognini, R., & Oliver, R. (2012). L1 use in primary and secondary foreign language classrooms and its contribution to learning. In E. Alcón Soler, & M. P. Safont Jordá (Eds.), Discourse and learning across L2 instructional contexts (pp. 53–78). Amsterdam: Rodopi.
UCLES, C. U. P. A. (2019). Cambridge IELTS 14 academic student’s book with answers: Authentic examination papers. Cambridge University Press.
Vandergrift, L. (2004). Listening to learn or learning to listen? Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 24, 3–25.
Vandergrift, L., & Goh, C. C. (2012). Teaching and learning second language listening: Metacognition in action. New York: Rutledge.
Vandergrift, L., Goh, C. C. M., Mareschal, C. J. & Tafaghodtari, M. H. (2006). The metacognitive awareness listening questionnaire: Development and validation. Language Learning. 56(3), 431–462.
Vandergrift, L., & Tafaghodtari, H. M. (2010). Teaching L2 students how to listen does make a difference: An empirical study. Language Learning, 60(2), 470–497.
Wach, A., & Monroy, F. (2020). Beliefs about L1 use in teaching English: A comparative study of Polish and Spanish teacher-trainees. Language Teaching Research, 24(6), 855–873.
Wallace, M. P. (2020). Individual differences in second language listening: Examining the role of knowledge, metacognitive awareness, memory, and attention. Language Learning.
Wenden, A. (1998). Metacognitive knowledge and language learning. Applied Linguistics, 19(4), 515–537.