• Metacognition is “knowing about knowing” or "thinking about thinking" it is the active process of understanding the cognitive processes involved in learning and having control over those processes (Baker, 2000; Baker, 2006).
  • Metacognition is associated with intelligence and that is why it is of interest to educators and learners alike.
  • The thresholds theory was developed by Cummmins (1986) to explain the different levels of cognition found depending on how developed learners were in either their first or second language.

  • Bilinguals who are literate in both their first and second languages often achieve better than their mainstream counterparts.
  • Bilinguals will also be a rich resource as 'experts' in the classroom because of the cognitive capital they have.

Fig. 1: Cummins' (1986) Threshold Theory


  • Students who have not developed literacy or competence in either their first or second language are particularly disadvantaged. This suggests the importance of developing literacy in both the first and second languages as far as it is possible.
  • Students who are literate in both the first and second languages have a cognitive advantage over monolinguals because of the rich resources they bring to the understanding of the second language from their knowledge of the first.
  • Baker (2000) refers to the greater flexibility bilinguals have who are literate in both their first and second language and this has implications for extending them to the next level


Baker, C. (2000). The care and education of young bilinguals: An introduction for professionals. Clevedon, Uk: Multilingual Matters.

Baker, C. (2006). Cognitive theories of bilingualism and the curriculum. In Foundations of bilingual education and bilingualism. (4th ed.,pp. 166-186) Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters.

Cummins, J. (1986). Empowering minority students: A framework for intervention. Harvard Educational Review 56 (1), 18-36.