Social-Motivational Metacognitive Strategy Instruction: Empowering ESL Readers in A Pedagogic University Setting

BROMELEY PHILIP of UiTM Sarawak won the best PhD thesis of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. He invented a metacognitive strategy instruction model for teaching academic reading in universities that he called SMMSI.

SMMSI constitutes five components: direct explanation approach, motivation approach, scaffolding, intersubjectivity and self-regulatory approach. The model is informed by three main theoretical sources namely, socio-cognitive theory, socio-cultural theory and cognitive theory. It provides contextualised strategy training as the actual lesson involves learning how to apply reading strategies such as planning, comprehension monitoring, problem solving and evaluating appropriately and effectively in the context of academic texts.

The model calls for a redefinition of the teacher’s and learners’ roles into assuming equal partnership in the classroom. The essence of this model lies in a dialogical relationship between learners and teachers. The SMMSI teacher and learners would together negotiate the structure of the class through conceptual scaffolding within the larger framework of intersubjectivity. This involves an understanding that learners need to see themselves as sharing equal power with the teacher as classroom participants. The teacher helps create a safe environment where learners would feel free to express themselves even if it means using sub-varieties of English. After all, according to Shor (1992), teachers should not restrict learners from using their own language. Shor believes that even non-standard learner speech must be recognised as legitimate and rule-governed dialect, and that it should be allowed to be used in tandem with Standard English, which learners need to learn (cited in Degener 1999: 40).

Embedded within SMMSI is an academic space for the learners to freely express their multicultural selves of even using their own non-standard varieties of English as they seek out to make meaning through negotiated interactions. The teacher should not be authoritative in orientation but instead be willing to learn from their learners by respecting their dreams, expressions and expectations. The learners are made to become aware that they have the autonomy to make choices and decisions regarding their learning. Such dialogic interaction via scaffolding process is possible because the structure of SMMSI classroom procedure provides negotiation space for both the teacher and learners to assume joint responsibility in co-constructing strategy knowledge as they also jointly re-construct meanings from the reading text. The teacher needs to recognise the fact that his/her function is to engage as much participation from the learners suggesting that he/she will need to alter the teacher’s traditional “authoritative” role, and the learners on the other hand, ought to be instilled with confidence to be willing to participate actively. In other words, the co-construction of strategy knowledge via scaffolding in the context of a social reading practice between the teacher and learners entails redefining the teacher’s traditional “authoritative” role and the learners’ passive “receiver” role. Overall, the SMMSI model is an attempt to address as far as possible the realities of socio-cultural, socio-political and socio-educational contexts in Malaysia that influence to a large extent the instructional methods, pedagogic roles and expectations in the Malaysian ESL classrooms. The SMMSI model also offers an alternative pedagogic perspective for the ESL reading classroom which to some extent is designed in view of some contemporary trend of thinking in Malaysian ESL pedagogy:

“…understanding learners’ struggles in learning the English language involves …an awareness of how socio-cultural meanings are linked in complicated ways to socio-cultural identities. …” Teachers and practitioners should be aware that the classroom is not a neat, self-contained mini-society isolated from the outside world but an integral part of the larger society where the reproduction of many forms of domination and resistance based on gender, ethnicity, class, race, religion and language is a daily event (Lee Su Kim 2003b: 10).


Degener, S.C. 1999. Making sense of critical pedagogy in adult literacy education. The annual review of adult learning and literacy. 2: 26-62.

Lee Su Kim. 2003b. Exploring the relationship between language, culture and identity.
GEMA. 2003 Issue: 1-13.

Published: 06 Nov 2009

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Chief Information Officer (CIO)

Institute of Research, Development and Commersialisation (IRDC) Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) Shah Alam, 50450 Shah Alam Selangor Malaysia

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