Metalanguage: What is it and how will it help my English?

‘Metalanguage’ is probably the most unusual word you will see today. It’s very useful for learning a language, but first, what does it mean? Although it looks like a complicated word, the meaning is quite simple: Metalanguage is words or symbols for talking about language itself.

You probably already know some metalanguage. The words ‘verb’, ‘noun’ and ‘adjective’ are all examples of metalanguage – they are all words that we use to describe other words. So, why is metalanguage an important part of learning a language?

Firstly, metalanguage useful to help you understand language-learning resources. When you look at a new sentence structure, word, or even pronunciation point in a textbook, you need to understand metalanguage in order to understand what you are learning. When you understand metalanguage, you can understand English-only learning resources and that means there will be a much wider range of learning resources available to you.

Knowing metalanguage help you understand your teacher better. If your teacher introduces two forms of a word, one noun and one adjective, you need to know what ‘noun’ and ‘adjective’ mean in order to understand where the words will be used.

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Being able to explain how English works without using your native language helps you think in English and avoid translation. Teachers often ask English students to try and think in English. This is only possible if you have enough English vocabulary to talk about and understand how a language works in English.

Learning metalanguage is easy, too. There are hundreds of English-only grammar books available online and you can use our private to learn about how to talk about how a language works in English. When it’s that easy, what’s stopping you from getting started learning some metalanguage today!

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