Understanding Mainland Chinese junior secondary school students' metacognitive strategies in reading English and Chinese

Xiaoyuan QU

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Theses


In recent years, the concept of metacognition has been attracting growing attention, and considerable efforts have been made in researching metacognitive strategies in language learning and reading. Previous research mostly focused on tertiary level students, with very few studies involving junior secondary school students who are still in the developmental process of L1 and L2 reading. This study investigates the self-reported use of metacognitive strategies by Chinese EFL junior secondary school students when reading English and Chinese texts respectively. The relationship between the pupils’ reading proficiency and their use of metacognitive strategies in both L1 and L2 reading is also examined. The study also explores the impact of Chinese reading strategies on English reading. A mixed-methods approach is adopted in this study. First, a total of 272 students were classified into high, intermediate and low proficiency groups; they then responded to two Likert-type questionnaires — the Survey of Reading Strategies (SORS) and the Metacognitive Awareness of Reading Strategies Inventory (MARSI) which measured use of reading strategies and metacognitive awareness when reading English and Chinese texts respectively. Second, 12 of these pupils were selected to participate in stimulated recall and then semi-structured interviews, with a view to tapping the actual reading strategies students employed when reading English texts as well as obtaining insights into the similarities and differences in strategy use in their reading process. The quantitative results indicate that participants’ English and Chinese language proficiency had an impact on their use of metacognitive strategies. The metacognitive strategies reported being used by the three levels of English and Chinese proficiency groups were significantly different from each other. More proficient readers use more metacognitive strategies than less proficient readers. Moreover, the metacognitive strategies used in reading English are generally consistent with those involved in reading Chinese. In other words, the participants used very similar metacognitive strategies in both L1 and L2 reading. This suggests that Chinese reading strategies can be transferred to English reading at junior secondary school level. The qualitative results suggest that the participants at different proficiency levels were all aware of metacognitive strategies when engaged in English reading. When encountering challenges in reading comprehension, students of the three proficiency levels all employed metacognitive strategies using varied selections of strategies. These differences suggest that high proficiency readers are more concerned with obtaining the overall meaning of the texts. In addition, the results reveal that some important factors such as L1 reading strategies, vocabulary, motivation, teachers and parents may have an influence on EFL junior secondary school students’ English learning and reading. Finally, a number of pedagogical implications for students and teachers to improve metacognitive strategies in reading are raised. It is recommended that EFL teachers should help their students become more strategic and effective readers. Recommendations for further research include using multiple instruments to explore the students’ metacognitive strategy use in reading, such as the researcher’s observations, teachers’ evaluation and students’ reflecting journals. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Education
Awarding Institution
  • The Hong Kong Institute of Education
  • MA, Qing 馬清, Supervisor
  • BENSON, Philip, Supervisor
Award date08 Sept 2013
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • English language -- Study and teaching (Secondary)
  • Chinese language -- Study and teaching (Secondary)
  • Reading (Secondary)
  • Theses and Dissertations
  • Thesis (Ed.D.)--The Hong Kong Institute of Education, 2013


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