Honors Program


Date of this Version

Spring 3-9-2021

Document Type



Miller, Adriana. Effect of Bilingualism on Metalinguistic Awareness: A Meta-Analysis. Undergraduate Honors Thesis. University of Nebraska-Lincoln. May 2021.


Copyright Adriana Miller 2021.


Metalinguistic awareness is the ability to “reflect upon and manipulate the structural features of spoken language” (Turmer & Herriman, 1984; Nagy &Anderson, 1995). It is an important element of language learning and relationships have been found between metalinguistic ability and literacy in both children and adults (Roehr-Brackin, 2018). Metalinguistic awareness also plays a role in second language learning, as some studies have found that bilingual individuals have greater metalinguistic awareness than monolinguals (Cummings, 1979). The purpose of this study was to evaluate the differences in metalinguistic awareness between monolingual and bilingual individuals using a meta-analysis. This analysis of 77 studies showed no overall difference in metalinguistic abilities between these two groups. Moderating analyses found advantages in metalinguistic awareness for bilinguals among children under age seven, when the two groups were matched on language proficiency, when bilinguals were tested in their first language, and when unstandardized tasks were used. A monolingual advantage was seen when the bilingual group learned a second language after age seven, when the two groups were not matched on shared language proficiency, when bilinguals were tested in their second language, and when standardized tasks were used.