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Hi people, i'm doing a research on whether is good for English language teachers to use the L1 of the students or the target language (English) when teaching in the classroom. So i would really appreciate it if you answered these two questions for me:
1) Do you feel guilty if you use the students' first language in the classroom? Why?
2) When do you think the first language could be used profitably in the classroom?
1. Yes, I do because I feel I have failed them as a teacher to be able to effectively communicate with them.
2. Maybe if you wanted to for example explain the weather to them and show them hot in english and their native language for better understanding. But even with this some students would not listen to the english and only wait until they see it in their native tongue, but it may save the teacher a lot of headaches from explaining it.
thanks for asking and it is always a profitable question for teachers to think about..... We also have another discussion on this topic with some good links and downloads.
Here's my own direct answer.
1. No. However, I used to but have changed with experience. I've seen how proper use of L1 by the teacher can help learning and facilitate on a lot of levels. It isn't a black or white issue but rather an issue of "when" to use it. I only would feel guilty now, if I were using the L1 for my own practice/profit and not focusing on the student learning in the classroom (the objective isn't the teacher learning the language! - we can do that outside of school).
2. See the above thread. I outline what I feel are the 5 times when L1 should be used. ( 1. explaining abstract ideas 2. safety/rules 3. grammar/language comparison 4. to motivate students at times 5. instructions for difficult tasks (but always try to model first)
I was at a workshop the other day in which the facilitator told the following story:
His friend asked his students to go home and do their reading, then to answer their questions using their home language. They came back to class, read their answers in their L1, then were asked to translate what they just said. The teacher said he had never heard as much classroom discussion as he did on that day.
I think that by restricting our students' language usage to the target language, it hampers them. I can only shudder to think what would happen to me if I were suddenly placed in a college-level course and were not able to revert to English to make sure I was making those connections and transfers of knowledge from my L1 to L2.
This is not to say that the L1 should be used indiscriminately, but as long as students are working together to gain a better understanding, then report out, there is nothing wrong with surfing between the two languages. In fact, I think it's beneficial.