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L1 use in the L2 classroom

Talk for MA TESOL class, University of Nottingham

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L1 use in the L2 classroom

  1. 1. MA TESOL Current Issues in TESOL: To what extent should we use L1 in the L2 classroom? Richard Pemberton School of Education 7 February 2011
  2. 2. Outline for the talk <ul><li>L1 in the L2 classroom </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Approaches to L1 use over time </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Current policy and practice </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Why has ‘English Only’ (as far as possible) been preferred? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How much L1 use by teachers is there? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reasons for a monolingual approach </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reasons for a bilingual approach </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Functions for a bilingual approach </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Principled and unprincipled approaches </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Some techniques for using L1 in the L2 classroom </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Food for thought </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Questions for further discussion </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Acknowledgements </li></ul><ul><li>References </li></ul><ul><li>Further Reading </li></ul><ul><li>Ideas for Teaching </li></ul><ul><li>Discussions in Teacher Forums </li></ul>
  3. 3. Approaches to L1 use over time <ul><li>Bilingual approaches </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Grammar Translation </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Monolingual approaches </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Reform Movement </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Direct Method </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Audiolingual / Structural-Situational approaches </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Communicative Language Teaching </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Task-Based Language Teaching </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Activity 1: experiencing a Direct Method approach <ul><li>Spanish </li></ul><ul><li>Sesotho (from Southern Africa) </li></ul><ul><li>Questions: </li></ul><ul><li>How did you feel when being taught in these languages? </li></ul><ul><li>Did you use your L1 at any time when learning phrases in the languages? </li></ul><ul><li>Would you have found it useful if the teacher had used your L1 at any stage during the teaching process? </li></ul>
  5. 5. Current policy and practice: an example and a quote <ul><li>“ Teachers should teach English through English and encourage learners to interact with one another in English” </li></ul><ul><li>(Hong Kong Primary School Curriculum Guide 2004, cited in Littlewood & Yu 2011) </li></ul><ul><li>“ The influence of the L1 may have been reconceptualized in SLA research, but […] the dominant pedagogy remains determinedly monolingual. ” </li></ul><ul><li>(Widdowson 2003: 152) </li></ul>
  6. 6. Why has ‘English Only’ (as far as possible) been preferred? <ul><li>Translation associated with Grammar Translation and Contrastive Analysis (“baby thrown out with the bathwater”) </li></ul><ul><li>Effect of Krashen’s theories (comprehensible L2 input for L2 acquisition) </li></ul><ul><li>The belief that the only way to learn English is to speak it </li></ul><ul><li>NESTs often trained to teach multilingual classes </li></ul><ul><li>NESTs may not speak the local L1 </li></ul><ul><li>Influence of ELT publishers (global reach) </li></ul><ul><li>(see Atkinson 1987, Owen 2003) </li></ul>
  7. 7. Is ‘English only’ (direct method) always maintained?
  8. 9. How much L1 use by teachers is there? <ul><li>A big range, both between teachers: </li></ul><ul><li>from 0% to 91% (Polio & Duff 1994: L1 English in 13 university L2 classes, USA) </li></ul><ul><li>from 10% to 90% (Liu et al 2004: L1 Korean in 13 secondary L2 English classes, S. Korea) </li></ul><ul><li>from 12% to 77% (Kim & Elder 2005: L1 English in seven secondary L2 French, German, Korean, Japanese classes in New Zealand) </li></ul><ul><li>and within the same teacher: </li></ul><ul><li>from 6% to 71% (Edstrom 2006: L1 English in university L2 Spanish class, USA ) </li></ul>
  9. 10. Activity 2: Your experience <ul><li>How much L1 was used when you were learning English (or another L2)? How do you feel about the amount used? </li></ul><ul><li>How much L1 do you use as a teacher of English? Why? How do you feel about the amount used? </li></ul>
  10. 11. Reasons for a monolingual approach <ul><li>By teachers and students </li></ul><ul><li>This may be the students’ only exposure to the L2: the more L2, the better </li></ul><ul><li>Overuse of the L1 may lead to laziness/reluctance to use the L2 </li></ul><ul><li>“ The two languages should be kept separate in the learner’s mind” (compartmentalised) [but our brains don’t tend to work this way: see Cook 2001, 2008; Widdowson 2003: 154] </li></ul><ul><li>The teacher may not speak the students’ L1 </li></ul>
  11. 12. Reasons for a bilingual approach <ul><li>For L1 teacher talk </li></ul><ul><li>Facilitates talk about language (comparing L1 and L2) </li></ul><ul><li>Facilitates talk about learning (metacognition) </li></ul><ul><li>Facilitates talk about culture </li></ul><ul><li>Saves time </li></ul><ul><li>Helps maintain discipline </li></ul><ul><li>Helps maintain good relations </li></ul><ul><li>Is often appreciated by students (e.g. McDonough 2002: 405; Brooks-Lewis 2009) </li></ul>
  12. 13. Reasons for a bilingual approach <ul><li>For L1 student talk </li></ul><ul><li>Allows learners to say what they want to say </li></ul><ul><li>Using the L2 all the time in a monolingual situation is “pretend”, not authentic (Cook 2001, 2008) </li></ul><ul><li>It’s natural in monolingual situation, especially when the task is unstructured (see Carless 2008) </li></ul><ul><li>The L1 can be useful cognitive tool when the L2 task is complex (Swain & Lapkin 2000) </li></ul><ul><li>Using the L1 facilitates collaborative dialogue during tasks (Cook 2001) </li></ul><ul><li>Using the L1 prepares children for code-switching in later life (Cook 2001) </li></ul>
  13. 14. Functions thought to be appropriate to the L1: Atkinson vs Harbord <ul><li>Atkinson (1987) recommends the following “judicious” uses of the L1 in the L2 classroom: eliciting language, checking comprehension, giving instructions, talking about language, comparing the L1 and L2, translating, using compensatory strategies and saving time. </li></ul><ul><li>Harbord (1992) agrees that the L1 should not be avoided, but disagrees with most of Atkinson’s ‘uses’, on the grounds that they would interfere with L2 communicative practice. He recommends only a few of Atkinson’s uses: e.g. contextualised (not not word-for-word) translation. </li></ul><ul><li>Read the two articles: who do you agree with? </li></ul>
  14. 15. Functions for the L1 used by L2 teachers: two studies x Highlighting important information x Saving time (translating what just said to L1) x Giving background information x Explaining difficult vocabulary/grammar x x Maintaining discipline x Giving feedback x Giving individual comments x Translating/checking comprehension x Giving instructions for activities Liu et al 2004: EFL teachers in S. Korea Macaro 1997 (cited in Cook 2008: 182): FL teachers in UK Top five most common functions [order for Liu et al changed from original]
  15. 16. The monolingual EFL classroom <ul><li>Let’s remind ourselves of the sorts of classrooms we’re talking about … </li></ul>
  16. 19. Activity 3: Dilemmas <ul><li>What would you do if: </li></ul><ul><li>You are a NEST: an advanced level student replies to your English question using the L1 (which you don’t understand) </li></ul><ul><li>Your school has a strict ‘No L1’ policy – but you find that it needs to be used </li></ul><ul><li>Students ask you to write the meanings of all new vocabulary items on the board, slowing down the lesson and taking up too much time using the L1 (in your opinion) </li></ul><ul><li>Students agree a ‘language use’ contract with you, but break it immediately and continuously </li></ul><ul><li>Groupwork is only ever in English when you are walking near a group – it switches back to the L1 as soon as you pass </li></ul><ul><li>You’re trained the CLT way, but your learners prefer GT </li></ul>
  17. 20. One principled approach <ul><li>Adapted from Littlewood & Yu (2011: 70) </li></ul>Strategic use of L1 Compensatory use of L1 Core goals Planned learning activites Ad hoc ‘crutch’ to help learning Framework goals Affective and interpersonal support Aid to classroom management
  18. 21. As opposed to an unprincipled approach <ul><li>S: How do you tell when like for xx for adverb endings </li></ul><ul><li>T: Hankwukmallo hase [Please speak Korean] </li></ul><ul><li>S: What? </li></ul><ul><li>T: Hankwukmallo haseyyo [Please speak Korean] </li></ul><ul><li>S: How how can you tell if it’s gonna be like a ‘he’ ending or a ‘she’? </li></ul><ul><li>T: No way </li></ul><ul><li>S: ’s no way. You just have to memorize? </li></ul><ul><li>T: Yeah. It’s irregular. </li></ul><ul><li>(Polio & Duff 1994: 320-1) </li></ul>
  19. 22. <ul><li>T: Please find the key word. What is it? </li></ul><ul><li>S: Peanut plants. </li></ul><ul><li>T: Peanut plants. Right. [In Korean: Well, what is mentioned about peanut plants? ] </li></ul><ul><li>Ss: Growth, stem … </li></ul><ul><li>T: [In Korean: You’re right .] </li></ul><ul><li>(adapted from Liu et al 2004: 623) </li></ul><ul><li>Note use of L1 for feedback when this could be done in L2 </li></ul>
  20. 23. Harmer’s (2007: 135) conclusions <ul><li>Acknowledge the L1 </li></ul><ul><li>Use appropriate L1, L2 activities </li></ul><ul><li>Differentiate between levels </li></ul><ul><li>Agree clear guidelines </li></ul><ul><li>Use encouragement and persuasion [Hmm: always effective?] </li></ul>
  21. 24. Using L1 in the L2 classroom: some techniques <ul><li>You’ll find some ideas for using the L1 in the L2 classroom (particularly involving translation) in the ‘Ideas for Teaching’ slides later in this ppt: </li></ul><ul><li>Prodromou 2002 </li></ul><ul><li>Clanfield & Foord 2003 </li></ul><ul><li>Kaye 2009 </li></ul>
  22. 25. Food for thought: how far do you agree with these quotations? <ul><li>“ Communication in the class should purely be in the English Language and more importantly they need to think in English. The students down here think in their mother tongue and then translate it into English, which will obviously make no sense.” (Indian teacher of English, 2009, posting to ‘Using L1 in the ESL classroom’ forum - see last slide: ‘Discussions in Teacher Forums’) </li></ul><ul><li>“ Turnbull argues that if teachers are “licensed” (Cook, 2001, p. 410) to use the L1 in their teaching, it will result in overuse of the L1.” (Turnbull & Arnett 2002: 207) </li></ul><ul><li>“ Using L1 for checking listening or reading skills, seems once again a decision to throw out a valid opportunity for communication in order to save time, and cannot really be recommended on any grounds.” (Harbord 1992: 353) </li></ul>
  23. 26. Food for thought: how far do you agree with these quotations? <ul><li>“ Mother tongue is indeed the mother of the second, third and fourth languages. [...] To exclude MT from the English classroom is like trying to wean a baby on day one of their life.” (Deller & Rinvolucri 2002: 10) </li></ul><ul><li>“ The mother tongue is […] the greatest asset people bring to the task of foreign language learning.” (Butzkamm 2003: 29) </li></ul><ul><li>“ How […] can you teach a bilingual subject by means of a monolingual pedagogy? ” (Widdowson 2003: 154) </li></ul><ul><li>“ Bringing the L1 back from exile […] may liberate the task-based learning approach so that it can foster the students’ natural collaborative efforts in the classroom through their L1 as well as their L2.” (Cook 2001: 419) </li></ul>
  24. 27. Questions for further discussion <ul><li>What % of teacher talk should be in the L1 for optimal L2 acquisition? 0% (Direct Method/CLT)? 5% (Atkinson 1987: 242)? 25%? 50%? 75%? 90%? </li></ul><ul><li>Does it depend on: Level? Purpose? Cognitive difficulty? Some other factors? </li></ul><ul><li>What principles would you use regarding L1 use in pair/group work? </li></ul><ul><li>Have a look at some of the references that follow. You may find that the ‘Ideas for Teaching’ and ‘Discussions in Teacher Forums’ (all web links) are also useful quick starters to get you thinking and discussing. </li></ul>
  25. 28. Acknowledgements <ul><li>The cartoon by Wilhelm Nüchter appears in the Language Learning Journal (Butzkamm 2003: 33), and is reproduced here by kind permission of the Association for Language Learning. </li></ul><ul><li>Many thanks to Rex Pe for his photos of Chinese classrooms (‘Middle School class’ and ‘Find someone who’), made available under the Creative Commons licence. </li></ul>
  26. 29. References (useful starting points in bold) <ul><li>Atkinson, D. 1987. The mother tongue in the classroom: a neglected resource? ELT Journal 41(4): 241-247. </li></ul><ul><li>Brooks-Lewis, K.A. 2009. Adult learners’ perceptions of the incorporation of their L1 in foreign language teaching and learning. Applied Linguistics 30(2): 216-235. </li></ul><ul><li>Butzkamm, W. 2003. We only learn language once. The role of the mother tongue: death of a dogma. Language Learning Journal 28(1): 29-39. </li></ul><ul><li>Carless, D. 2008. Student use of the mother tongue in the task-based classroom. ELT Journal 62(4): 331-338. </li></ul><ul><li>Cook, V. 2001. Using the first language in the classroom. Canadian Modern Language Review 57(3): 402-423. </li></ul><ul><li>Cook, V. 2008. (4 th ed) Second Language Learning and Language Teaching . London: Hodder Education. [Section 10.3] </li></ul>
  27. 30. <ul><li>Edstrom, E. 2006. L1 use in the L2 classroom: one teacher’s self-evaluation. Canadian Modern Language Review 63(2): 275-292. </li></ul><ul><li>Harbord, J. 1992. The use of the mother tongue in the classroom. ELT Journal 46(4): 350-355. </li></ul><ul><li>Harmer, J. (4 th ed) 2007. The Practice of English Language Teaching. Harlow: Longman [Chapter 7, section D] </li></ul><ul><li>Kim, S.H.O. & Elder, C. 2005. Language choices and pedagogic functions in the foreign language classroom: a cross-linguistic functional analysis of teacher talk. Language Teaching Research 9(4): 335-380. </li></ul><ul><li>Littlewood, W. & Yu, B. 2011. First language and target language in the foreign language classroom. Language Teaching 44(1): 64-77. </li></ul><ul><li>Liu, D., Ahn, G-S., Baek, K-S. & Han, N-O. 2004. South Korean High School English teachers’ code switching: questions and challenges in the drive for maximal use of English in teaching. TESOL Quarterly 38(4): 605-638. </li></ul>
  28. 31. <ul><li>McDonough, J. 2002. The teacher as language learner: worlds of difference? ELT Journal 56(4): 404-411. </li></ul><ul><li>Polio, C.G. & Duff, P.A. 1994. Teachers’ language use in university foreign language classrooms: a qualitative analysis of English and target language alternation. Modern Language Journal 78(3): 313-326. </li></ul><ul><li>Swain, M. & Lapkin, S. 2000: Task-based second language learning: the uses of the first language. Language Teaching Research 4(3): 251-274. </li></ul><ul><li>Turnbull, M. and Arnett, K. 2002. Teachers’ uses of the target and first languages in second and foreign languages classrooms. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics 22: 204-218. </li></ul><ul><li>Widdowson, H.G. 2003. Defining Issues in English Language Teaching . Oxford: Oxford University Press. [Chapter 11] </li></ul>
  29. 32. Further Reading <ul><li>Atkinson, D. 1993. Teaching Monolingual Classes: Using L1 in the Classroom . London: Longman. </li></ul><ul><li>Auerbach, E. 1993. Reexamining English only in the ESL classroom. TESOL Quarterly 27(1): 9-32. </li></ul><ul><li>Auerbach, E. 1994. Author’s response to Polio, C. Comments on Elsa Roberts Auerbach’s “Reexamining English only in the ESL classroom” – a reader reacts. TESOL Quarterly 28(1): 157-61. </li></ul><ul><li>Bradley, C.J. 2003. A diglot-weave experience with EFL university students. Humanising Language Teaching 5(1). . Accessed: 7 February 2011. </li></ul>
  30. 33. <ul><li>Eldridge, J. 1996. Code-switching in a Turkish secondary school. ELT Journal 50(4): 303-311. </li></ul><ul><li>Mattioli, G. 2004. On native language intrusions and making do with words: linguistically homogeneous classrooms and native language use. English Teaching Forum 42(4). . Accessed: 7 February 2011. </li></ul><ul><li>Owen, D. 2003. Where’s the treason in translation? Humanising Language Teaching 5(1). . Accessed: 7 February 2011. </li></ul><ul><li>Polio, C. 1994. Comments on Elsa Roberts Auerbach’s “Reexamining English only in the ESL classroom” – a reader reacts. TESOL Quarterly 28(1): 153-7. </li></ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul>
  31. 34. Ideas for Teaching <ul><li>Clanfield, L. & Foord, D. 2003. Using L1 in the classroom. . Humanising Language Teaching 5(1). Accessed: 7 February 2011. </li></ul><ul><li>Deller, S. & Rinvolucri, M. 2002. Using the Mother Tongue: making the most of the learner’s language . Peaslake: Delta Publishing. [ Contents/Introduction . Sample page .] </li></ul><ul><li>Kaye, P. 2009. Translation activities in the language classroom. Teaching English . British Council/BBC. . Accessed: 7 February 2011. </li></ul><ul><li>Prodromou, L. 2002. From mother tongue to other tongue. Teaching English . British Council/BBC. . Accessed: 7 February 2011. </li></ul>
  32. 35. Discussions in Teacher Forums <ul><li>For secondary school teachers only (sorry). 2008. Teaching English . British Council/BBC. . Accessed: 7 February 2011. </li></ul><ul><li>Using L1 in the ESL classroom. 2009. Teaching English . British Council/BBC. . Accessed: 7 February 2011. </li></ul>