OVER 15 YEARS STUDYING ENGLISH BUT STILL STRUGGLING? METACOGNITION TO THE RESCUE OF HIGHER EDUCATION STUDENTS WHO HAVE GOT STUCK WITH THEIR USE OF ENGLISH!

Despite having been learning English since a very young age, many Spanish students still lack proficiency or even the fundamental principles when they get to university. Some put the blame on 'too traditional' teaching methods at Secondary School, while others think that innovative methods based on a communicative approach have deprived them from a solid grammar base. Either way, students need to get more involved in their own learning process to really make the most of it.

This research explores the role metacognition can play in our students' deeper involvement in their learning process. With this aim, questionnaires were given to students from four study fields to find out if they were familiar with concepts such as metacognition or visible thinking on the one hand, and to help them reflect on their own thought processes on the other hand. Then we conducted some guided activities to help them set some metacognitive strategies that could favour their command of English.

We found that most students were not familiar with metacognition at the beginning, but the notion soon caught on and, generally speaking, students who incorporated the proposed reflections and routines to their workflows saw an improvement in their use of English. Taking part in this research has provided them with some tools to leverage their mental learning processes, something which can be useful not only for the English classroom, but also for lifelong learning.