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Metacognition, a concept integral to cognitive psychology, refers to the awareness and understanding of one’s own thought processes. It plays a crucial role in learning, as it involves both monitoring and regulating how we think and learn. Metacognition can be broadly categorized into two main types: metacognitive knowledge and metacognitive regulation.

Types of Metacognition

  1. Metacognitive Knowledge Metacognitive knowledge is the awareness of one’s own knowledge—what one knows about their own cognitive processes, strategies, and abilities. It is further divided into three components:
    • Declarative Knowledge: Knowledge about oneself as a learner and about what factors influence one’s performance.
    • Procedural Knowledge: Knowledge about how to perform various cognitive tasks, including the use of strategies for learning or problem-solving.
    • Conditional Knowledge: Understanding why and when to use particular strategies for learning or problem-solving.
  2. Metacognitive Regulation Metacognitive regulation refers to the regulation of one’s cognitive processes through planning, monitoring, and evaluating. It encompasses:
    • Planning: Selecting strategies and allocating resources before beginning a task.
    • Monitoring: Being aware of one’s comprehension and performance during the task.
    • Evaluating: Assessing the outcome after task completion.

Sample Practices in Language Class

Incorporating metacognitive practices into language teaching can significantly enhance students’ learning processes. Here are some examples:

  1. Self-Reflection Journals Encourage students to keep journals where they reflect on their language learning experiences, challenges, and strategies they find effective. This practice develops metacognitive knowledge by making learners more aware of their learning processes and preferences.
  2. Think-Aloud Sessions During think-aloud sessions, students verbalize their thought process while completing a language task. This can be particularly useful for revealing students’ strategies in understanding and producing language, thereby fostering metacognitive regulation.
  3. Goal Setting and Self-Assessment Before starting a new topic or task, ask students to set specific, achievable goals. After completing the task, they should evaluate their performance against these goals. This practice enhances planning and evaluating skills.
  4. Strategy Use Discussion Regularly discuss and share different learning strategies in class. Encourage students to experiment with various strategies and reflect on their effectiveness. This not only improves procedural and conditional knowledge but also encourages the regulation of learning.
  5. Peer Teaching Peer teaching activities require students to explain concepts and strategies to one another. This can enhance declarative, procedural, and conditional knowledge by forcing students to articulate and reflect on their own understanding and methods.


  • Flavell, J. H. (1979). Metacognition and cognitive monitoring: A new area of cognitive-developmental inquiry. American Psychologist, 34(10), 906-911. This seminal paper by Flavell introduced the concept of metacognition and laid the groundwork for its study within cognitive psychology.
  • Schraw, G., & Dennison, R.S. (1994). Assessing metacognitive awareness. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 19(4), 460-475. This article discusses methods for assessing metacognitive awareness and provides insights into the implementation of metacognitive practices in education.
  • Zimmerman, B. J. (2002). Becoming a self-regulated learner: An overview. Theory Into Practice, 41(2), 64-70. Zimmerman explores the role of metacognition in self-regulated learning, offering insights into how educators can foster metacognitive skills in their students.