In recent times, as standards of living continue to rise, learning foreign languages became one of the basic requirements of the 21st century. As Smith says “One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way.” Therefore, the issue of using effective teaching methods of foreign languages is one which needs to be looked at carefully.
In this case, usage of mother tongue in L2 learning is still hot debatable issue. It is often argued that mother-tongue based foreign language learning is productive method, whilst others disagree and think L1 usage brought its negative inputs into learning process. This blog will discuss both points of view before coming to a reasoned conclusion.
In fact, several research studies (Turnbull, 2011; Caroll, 1967 etc.) have shown the unfavorable results regarding L1 using in EFL classrooms. For instance, Turnbull (2011) conducted the research with four French teachers, where two of them used more mother tongues during the lesson than other two teachers. Thus, students of teachers who spoke mostly the target language had the positive results in comparison with students having mother-tongue based lessons. In Caroll’s (1967) study, he revealed that foreign language proficiency of students directly depends on teachers’ language of instruction. Thus, senior students in the USA showed the positive results with teachers’ instructions only in target language.
Contrary to the patterns described previously, there can be a positive role of mother tongue during acquiring the foreign language. According to Blackledge and Creese’s (2010) research, using mother tongue during learning L2 takes considerable place in learning process. Due to their research results, on mother tongue based language lessons UK school students performed not only good language knowledge, but also this teaching approach influenced positively on their lesson accomplishment and participant confidence during the lesson. Similar findings are reported by Kim (2011). His research with 20 native Korean students in English composition class indicates that mother tongue effect particularly on students’ writing skills. Following the same line, Auerbach (1993) states that “Starting with the L1 provides a sense of security and validates the learners’ lived experiences, allowing them to express themselves. The learner is then willing to experiment and take risks with English” (p.59).
To sum up, this blog is only small part of huge issue regarding mother tongue in language learning. Scholars still do not have definite answer to use or not to use L1 during learning L2. We face real schools and language centers which follow different teaching methods and approaches. Even by being somehow an expert in learning and teaching languages, you feel uncertainty about choosing the school for young generation, isn’t it?
Turnbull, M. (2001). There is a role for the L1 in second and foreign language teaching, but. Canadian Modern Language Review, 57 (4), 531-540
Auerbach, E. R. (1993). Reexamining English only in the ESL classroom. Tesol Quarterly, 27(1), 9-32.
Carroll., J. (1967). The foreign language attainments of language majors in the senior year: A survey conducted in U.S. colleges and universities. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED013343.pdf
Creese, A., & Blackledge, A. (2010). Translanguaging in the bilingual classroom: A pedagogy for learning and teaching?. The Modern Language Journal, 94(1), 103-115.
Kim, E. (2011). Using translation exercises in the communicative EFL writing classroom. ELT Journal: English Language Teachers Journal, 65(2), 154-160
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