Monitoring comprehension in a foreign language: Trait or skill?

Lilach Temelman-Yogev, Tami Katzir, Anat Prior

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Success in higher education is highly dependent on students’ ability to efficiently read and comprehend large amounts of text in the speaker’s first/native language (L1) and also in a Foreign Language (FL). Good text comprehension requires readers to implement a variety of metacognitive processes in order to self-regulate understanding. However, most readers are inaccurate when monitoring their own comprehension level, in the native language. Several studies have investigated FL comprehension monitoring, mostly using self-report measures. The current study further explored the relationship between L1 and FL comprehension monitoring through the paradigm of ‘calibration of comprehension’ (Glenberg and Epstein in Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, 11, 702-718, 1985). Specifically, 145 university students read texts in each language, answered comprehension questions and rated their confidence. Absolute and relative monitoring accuracy was calculated (bias and resolution, respectively) to study whether comprehension monitoring processes are trait-oriented (shared across languages and domains) or skill-oriented (dependent on language proficiency level). Results suggested that absolute monitoring accuracy is both trait and skill oriented. On the one hand, confidence ratings and bias were significantly correlated across L1, FL and a non-verbal task, suggesting trait-orientation. On the other hand, only individuals who were highly proficient in the FL shared their absolute monitoring skills between the languages, supporting the notion of a skill orientation. Relative monitoring was not associated across tasks or languages. Theoretical and practical implications for effective instruction and learning methods are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)343-365
Number of pages23
JournalMetacognition and Learning
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by grant 1094/14 from the Israeli Science Foundation to AP and TK and by the Edmond J. Safra Brain Research Center for the study of Learning Disabilities. The authors wish to thank Dr. Nachshon Korem for programming assistance, Razan Silawi and Gali Yosephi for diligent assistance in data collection and coding, and Sandra Zuckerman for statistics consulting.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • Bilingualism
  • Calibration of comprehension
  • Comprehension monitoring
  • Confidence ratings
  • English as a foreign language
  • L2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


Dive into the research topics of 'Monitoring comprehension in a foreign language: Trait or skill?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this