Metalinguistic awareness has been acknowledged by psycholinguists and applied linguists both as a beneficial effect of bilingual growth at different developmental ages (Bialystok, 2004, 2005; Pinto, 2002, 2004. 2001) and as a significant predictor of additional languages learning (Lasagabaster 2001; Jessner, 2006, 2008). Recent research has also highlighted the predictive power of metalinguistic abilities in L1 contextual competence in L1 (Romero López et al., 2008) and significant correlations with non verbal abstract cognition and verbalized metacognition (Pinto et al. 2011).

The presence of multilingual contexts in the world, where gaps in metalinguistic abilities can be correlated to gaps in a range of language learning abilities has generated a strong interest for assessing levels of metalinguistic awareness, and, as a consequence, for reliable tests for different developmental phases. Currently, three metalinguistic ability tests are available in Italian language, targeted for three age levels: the Metalinguistic Ability Test n.1 (TAM-1, Italian acronym: 4-6 years-old), n.2 (TAM-2: 9-14 years-old) and n.3 (TAM-3: late adolescence to adulthood).

To date, they have been validated on Italian samples (Pinto, Candilera, 2000; Pinto, Candilera, Iliceto,2003; Pinto, Iliceto, 2007) and also translated to English (Pinto, Titone, Trusso, 1999), Spanish (Pinto,Titone, Gonzalez Gíl), and French (El Euch, 2011; Pinto & El Euch, in preparation).

However, the English, Spanish and French versions have not been yet validated, although each of them has been used in experimental research on bi/multilingualism (Lasagabaster, 1998, 2001; Perales & Cenoz, 2002; Pafumi, 2005; Codemo, Pinto, Trusso, Iliceto, 2007; El Euch, 2009, 2011). More recently, in the framework of a Doctoral Thesis on metalinguistic awareness in primary school bilingual children in South-Tyrol (Pdh student: B. Hofer, tutored by Prof. U.Jesser, University of Innsbruck), having used the Italian version of one the above tests, a specific concern has emerged for the translation of this test into German.

The existence of a German version of the above tests of metalinguistic awareness would significantly complete the spectrum of the instruments available in European contexts for research in educational psycholinguistics in the area of bi/multilingualism, and would bring to 5 the number of European languages which vehicle these tests: Italian, English, French, Spanish and German. As such, each of these tests would allow for significant comparisons in the levels of metalinguistic awareness reached by groups of bi/plurilingual individuals, from preschool to adulthood, not only in Europe but also in every country where the above languages are used as vehicles of instruction and social practices.

The main innovating elements of this project can be synthetized as follows:

1) To elaborate on a systematic basis, common to a plurality of European languages, Metalinguistic Ability Tests (English acronym: MAT), which both assess and empower a type of abilities which are pivotal for a broad spectrum of learning abilities, particularly in the language domain.

2) To systematize previous scientific knowledge about these tests (Italian acronym: TAM), which have first been created and then validated in Italian language.

2a) To validate those tests which have already been translated into other languages than Italian: the Spanish and the French versions of the MATs (Spanish and French acronyms: THAM).

2b) To translate the MATs into one more relevant European language, German, starting from the intermediate developmental age, the MAT-2 (9-14 years).

3) To allow for multiple comparisons between levels of metalinguistic awareness in individuals with different linguistic backgrounds by using the same test in different linguistic versions: monolinguals, bilinguals of different developmental typologies, trilinguals, etc.

4) To allow for assessment of levels of metalinguistic awareness in L1 at different ages, in order to plan activities for empowering metalinguistic abilities and/or for predicting academic achievement in L1.