Some challenges of using the native language in the English Language classroom | Статья в журнале «Молодой ученый»

Библиографическое описание:

Адамбаева Ф. Р., Хажиева И. А. Some challenges of using the native language in the English Language classroom // Молодой ученый. — 2016. — №29.3. — С. 2-4. — URL (дата обращения: 26.05.2018).

Аdvantages and disadvantages of using the native language in teaching and learning. a foreign language

Адамбаева Феруза Рустамбековна, преподаватель;

Хажиева Ирода Адамбаевна, кандидат филологических наук, доцент

Ташкентский университет информационных технологий Ургенческий филиал. Узбекистан

Adambaeva Feruza Rustambekovna,

Khajieva Iroda Adambaevna

TUIT, Urganch branch

В последнее время отношение к родному языку претерпело положительные изменения. Важность использования родного языка в английском классе доказано, он необходим для лучшего понимания предмета и его сущности. Эта статья описывает роль использования родного языка в обучении и изучении иностранного языка, специфические черты, а также, преимущества и недостатки.

Ключевые слова: родной язык, умение, родной, одноязычный, двуязычный, многоязычный, коммуникативный подход, взаимоотношения в классе, культурный фон, сродство.

Recently the attitude to mother tongue has undergone a positive change. The importance of the use of MT in English classroom is proved to be essential for better understanding of the subject and its essence. This article describes the role of using the native language in teaching and learning a foreign language, its specific features, advantages and disadvantages as well.

Keywords: L1, proficiency, vernacular, monolingual, bilingual, multilingual, communicative approach, classroom interaction, cultural background, affinity.

The debate over whether or not to use the learners’ mother tongue (native language or first language or L1) inside the English language teaching (ELT) classrooms has always been the topic of discussion for various people involved in the field. While some researchers claim that such use may lead to more dependence of ESL/EFL learners on their L1 that may impede the progress of mastering the target language, on the flip side, others argue that the use of ESL/EFL learners’ L1 may expedite the process of teaching and learning the target language as the teachers can explain complex ideas and rules more effectively in learners’ L1 saving a lot of time.

English Language teaching in 1970s and 1980s with the communicative approach i. e. teaching English in English did not include the usage of mother tongue and prohibited its use in the classroom. Many linguists disapprove and discourage the use of mother tongue in language classroom. It is often said that the use of mother tongue in English Language Teaching (ELT) demonstrates the low level of proficiency of the teachers.

But recently the attitude to mother tongue has undergone a positive change. The importance of the use of MT in English classroom is proved to be essential for better understanding of the subject and its essence. But the amount of vernacular language required by the students depends on their proficiency and linguistic situations. A survey report appeared on the BBC teaching English website that there were 641 respondents in this research. Out of the total respondents 21 % use only English, 58 % sometimes use mother tongue, 8 % frequently,7 % most of the time,6 % about half the time. Further it has been noticed that when dealing with monolingual groups of students it seems futile to pretend that the MT doesn’t exist [1].

Many English language teachers go to great lengths to avoid the use of their students’ mother tongue in the classroom. Nunan describes a situation where an EFL teacher in China imposed fines on his students when they spoke Cantonese in the classroom. The effect, unsurprisingly, was that the students just fell silent. The teacher got his wish of no Cantonese, but ironically he did not get any English from his students either! [2].

Even with many teachers avoiding the students’ L1, it can work its way into the English language classroom in a variety of ways, for a variety of reasons. What follows is not an exhaustive list but is meant to highlight some of the major ways the students’ L1 is represented in the language classroom. They have been divided into three broad categories: (1) providing L1 equivalents of English words and expressions; (2) using L1 to focus on language in use; (3) using L1 for classroom interaction. Using the students’ L1 in the classroom to save time or to make life easier for the students and teachers is not an effective or beneficial technique Second Language Acquisition (SLA). This does not however mean that the mother tongue has no place in the language classroom. The students bring with them a thorough understanding of their L1 which they will inevitably draw upon in the process of acquiring a foreign language. Using the students’ L1 to raise students’ awareness about the similarities and differences between the two languages and helping them to discover different ways to express themselves in the TL can be a powerful technique in the learning process;

Advantages and disadvantages of using L1 in ELT classes

The advantages of using the mother tongue cannot be disregarded. Some advantages of using L1 can be listed by summarizing researchers’ ideas as below:

1. It reduces learner anxiety and creates a more relaxing learning environment,

2. It is a means of bringing the learners’ cultural background knowledge into the class,

3. It facilitates checking understanding and giving instructions,

4. It facilitates the task of explaining the meaning of abstract words and of introducing the main differences in grammar and pronunciation between L1 and L2.

Secondly, the other advantages summarized by researchers as shown below:

1. L1 use gives a sense of security and helps learners to be stress-free.

2. A foreign language friendly asset people bring to the task of FL learning.

3. The use of the L1 saves learners from a feeling of frustration they might have within their FL learning.

4. L1 techniques allow teachers to use richer and more authentic texts, which mean more comprehensible input and faster acquisition.

5. All-newly-acquired FL items have to sink roots in our minds which are eventually deep enough for the items to function independently of the L1”.

Furthermore, based on the researcher’s experience, in addition to the above mentioned advantages presented for the use of native language of the learners inside the classroom in some situations other benefits can be listed below:

— Native language saves great deal of time

— Helps clarify the meaning of difficult words

— Prevents the misunderstanding of the meaning of new word

— Helps to explain grammar rules

— Provides a sense of security and confidence

— Provides a better possibility to give instructions more effectively

The arguments presented by the student s to justify the use o f t he native language inside the classroom for teaching and learning ESL include:

— Native language gives a sense of security and helps feel less stressful

— By being able to use both languages they are less confused

— They feel the need to express their ideas and thought s in their own language

— They prefer translating difficult context and words

— They feel necessary the teacher’s use of native language in grammar explanations

In fact, there is no fixed rule that you should never use native language in English class and it cannot be rejected since it fulfills certain functions and purposes for the learners.

L1 can also be beneficial to maintain communication in the classroom. The students express themselves in English when they fail to understand and when they want to clarify the meaning of a word in L2 and express themselves in English. Harbord stated that “students use their L1 to speak to the teacher when they are quite incapable of expressing what they mean». So it can be described L1 as a “time saving device” [3].

Despite the advantages of using L1, it is nonetheless indicated that there are disadvantages of overusing mother tongue in foreign language classrooms. Overusing L1 causes using L2 less. The students feel dependent on their mother tongue.

Atkinson stressed [4] that the following problems of overusing:

1. “The teacher and the students begin to feel that they have not ‘really’ understood any item of language until it has been translated.

2. The teacher and the students fail to observe the distinctions between equivalence of form, semantic equivalence, and pragmatic features, and thus oversimplify to the point of using crude and inaccurate translation.

3. Students speak to the teacher in the mother tongue as a matter of course, even when they quite capable of expressing what they mean.

4. Students fail to realize that during many activities in the classroom it is essential that they use only English”.

Conclusion. It is evident from the aforesaid discussion that the use of mother tongue in teaching and learning English is inhabitable. In a steady process the students at different level foster linguistic, cultural and intellectual vigor. The linguistic experience in the home often becomes the foundation of their future learning. Thus, instead of using mother tongue frequently all through the class, the teachers very sensitively, judiciously and methodically handle it in monolingual, bilingual and multilingual classes with care and concern. The well-directed and appropriate use of lexical and syntactic balance between the mother tongue and English promotes retention and strengthens the understanding of the historical affinity of language and culture.


  2. Nunan, D. Second Language Teaching & Learning. Boston: Heinle & Heinle Publishers. 1999.
  3. Harbord, J. “The use of mother tongue in the class room”. ELT Journal, 46/4, 350–355. 1992.
  4. Atkinson, A.. The mother tongue in the classroom: a neglected resource? ELT Journal, 41/4, 241–247. 1987.
Основные термины (генерируются автоматически): ELT, EFL, ESL, родной язык, BBC, SLA, TUIT.

Ключевые слова

коммуникативный подход, умение, родной язык, культурный фон, родной, одноязычный, двуязычный, многоязычный, взаимоотношения в классе, сродство


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