The Development of Metalinguistic Awareness: A Conceptual Overview

  • William E. Tunmer
  • Michael L. Herriman
Part of the Springer Series in Language and Communication book series (SSLAN, volume 15)


This chapter examines the conceptual status of metalinguistic awareness and its relationship to other aspects of development in early childhood, namely, language acquisition, cognitive development and learning to read. As a first approximation, metalinguistic awareness may be defined as the ability to reflect upon and manipulate the structural features of spoken language, treating language itself as an object of thought, as opposed to simply using the language system to comprehend and produce sentences. To be metalinguistically aware is to begin to appreciate that the stream of speech, beginning with the acoustic signal and ending with the speaker’s intended meaning, can be looked at with the mind’s eye and taken apart.


Phonological Awareness Language Acquisition Middle Childhood Formal Schooling Reading Achievement 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • William E. Tunmer
  • Michael L. Herriman

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