Nowadays, English is believed to become a language of opportunities because it provides people from all over the world with a chance to share information. Thus, numerous individuals start learning English as a foreign language (EFL). Hall and Cook (2012) emphasize that this process turns out to be extremely complex without the use of students’ first language. Learners prefer using their own language for classroom management, for instance, because it allows them to understand without any issues what should be done and how, which minimalizes demotivation. Nazary (2008) adds that teachers should use their students’ first language when providing instructions to facilitate efficient communication and its positive outcome. This author emphasizes that an English-only policy seems to become outdated already. For instance, it makes the explanation of grammar rules more complex.
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However, the use of their native language depends on the students’ language proficiency because those who have higher levels of English require translation rarely. This view is supported by Campa and Nassaji (2009) who reveal that the total amount of the first language should be limited so that all instructor’s statements include about 88% of English. Nevertheless, they agree that their native language can be used for translation, discussion of contrast with English, evaluation of students’ contributions, instructions, activity objectives, administrative issues, humor, clarification, etc.
Professionals indicate that both educators and students may use their native language during EFL classes because this approach turns out to be rather beneficial for learning outcomes. Sali (2014) states that all of them can be organized into three major groups based on their functions: academic, managerial, and social. In this way, it is possible to reveal the content of the lesson, regulate student interactions and proceedings with the help of their first language instead of English. Grim (2010) also notices that it is possible to show one’s empathy and solidarity using the native language. However, such change requires additional education for teachers, which can ensure their ability to maximize efficient use of teaching opportunities.
Linguistic practices should be controlled by teachers to avoid excessive use of students’ first language. Based on students’ and educators’ opinions, Paker and Karaagac (2015) manage to find out that the use of the mother tongue provides an opportunity to avoid additional difficulties when explaining difficult concepts. In some situations, students may not just fail to understand what their teachers say in English but also may not know the meaning in their language.
Alshehri (2017) reveals that half of all teachers in Saudi Arabia avoid using their students’ native language. However, many of them ask their students to translate some worlds or explain some concepts with the help of their native language. In this way, even if educators omit using the Arabic language, they let their learners do so. Tahaineh (2014) supports this position and adds that Arab learners face issues with English grammar and the use of their native language provides an opportunity to simplify this process and affect their achievements positively. Discussion of learners’ errors in Arabic is also recommended because it improves their understanding significantly. In this way, professionals consider that the focus on the English-only policy should be reconsidered (Debreli & Oyman, 2016). Both teachers and students reveal that they benefit from the use of their native language during EFL classes. However, it is critical to remember that English should dominate.
Alshehri, E. (2017). Using learners’ first language in EFL classrooms. IAFOR Journal of Language Learning, 3(1), 20-33.
Campa, J. C., & Nassaji, H. (2009). The amount, purpose, and reasons for using L1 in L2 classrooms. Foreign Language Annals, 42(4), 742-759.
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Debreli, E., & Oyman, N. (2016). Students’ preferences on the use of mother tongue in English as a foreign language classrooms: Is it the time to re-examine English-only policies? English Language Teaching, 9(1), 148-162.
Grim, F. (2010). L1 in the L2 classroom at the secondary and college levels: A comparison of functions and use by teachers. Electronic Journal of Foreign Language Teaching, 7(2), 193–209.
Hall, G., & Cook, G. (2012). Own-language use in language teaching and learning. Language Teaching, 45(3), 271-308.
Nazary, M. (2008). The role of L1 in L2 acquisition: Attitudes of Iranian university students. Novitas-ROYAL, 2(2), 138-153.
Paker, T., & Karaagac, O. (2015). The use and functions of mother tongue in EFL classes. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 199, 111-119.
Sali, P. (2014). An analysis of the teachers’ use of L1 in Turkish EFL classrooms. System, 42(1), 308-318.
Tahaineh, Y. (2014). A review of EFL Arab learners’ language: Pitfalls and pedagogical implications. International Journal of English Linguistics, 4(1), 84-102.