English Only in the EFL Classroom: Well worth the Hassle?


In taking into consideration the use of L1 (the learners mother tongue) in ELT (English Language Instructing) on the aspect of the teacher, a person of the first assumptions is that the instructor has a sufficient command of the students L1 to be of worth in the initially put. An additional assumption which may perhaps nicely impression this scenario is that all the learners in a class or group have the very same L1. Whilst these assumptions may well usually be the scenario in various EFL (English as a Overseas Language) instructing / discovering configurations, many instances they are not. In the circumstance of multi-cultural courses (i.e., in the Usa, Uk, Australia, Canada, India, etc.) in which the learners have different L1s, or when the trainer does not have a operating know-how of the learners L1, a frequent incidence in Asia, Africa and japanese Europe, applied L1 use in the EFL classroom is severely constrained or may perhaps be rendered just about extremely hard.

Use of L1 in the Classroom

In my situation, I am going to talk about those situations where by I do in point use the learners L1 in my EFL courses. I have obtained a working information of Spanish and all my university and independent students have Spanish as their L1. Whilst I am in opposition to any sizeable use of L1 in ESOL (the educating of English to Speakers of Other Languages) courses, there are situations exactly where its use is rather important. In addition, at early levels a ratio of about 5 for every cent indigenous language to about 95 for every cent goal language may perhaps be additional worthwhile than the use of “English only”. (Atkinson, 1987) On the 1st working day of course with a new team, I demonstrate to the learners that they are allowed to inquire “How do you say ______ , in Spanish?” the place the Spanish (L1) word or phrase is stuffed in the blank. This permits the pupils to get important vocabulary in their composed or spoken expression while restricting their use of L1 in course.

When learners are stumped for abstract lexis, a term or phrase which simply cannot be easily elicited throughout the system of a lesson, I will simply just “give” them the phrase in Spanish to help in continuing with the clean circulation of the lesson and not get “bogged down” in trying to come up with the elusive lexis by other implies. When a university student offers me generation of incomprehensible language, i.e., I (nor the other learners) can not decipher what the college student is striving to say in English, I will say “Convey to me that in Spanish.” Armed with this new comprehending I (or 1 of the other learners) can then offer that learner with corrected, comprehensible forms which usually may possibly elude both equally (or even all) of us.

Throughout a prepared exam, I’ll also “give” the learners a term or phrase writing it on the board in English and / or Spanish to steer clear of substantial disruption of the take a look at-using course of action. Considering the fact that I do not get ready the examinations, new lexis can creep into readings, guidelines or routines. When a learner, and as supplemental learners, ask for which means or rationalization of the word(s), I will just issue to the lexis on the board with no speaking.

When actively playing communicative, TPR (Asher, 1966 and passim) or “rapidly-paced” vocabulary games these types of as a learner most loved called “Stop”, I am going to once more offer a translation of new lexis to assistance produce the learners vocabulary. These could be lexis of spots, names in English / Spanish, foodstuff, animals or some verbs or use of the L1 in different code-switching actions. (Clandfield – Foord, 2003) This comes about specifically regularly when I have to have to explain why a specific word is incorrect or are unable to be made use of.

L1 Use with LEP Learners

A single extra occasion when I change to Spanish is when I should chat to LEP (Confined English Proficiency) learners about important administrative matters or procedures for which they do not have the important depth of vocabulary to have an understanding of. The importance of the material and their will need to have an understanding of it outweigh the adherence of sticking to “English only” which is my “normal running process” in the classroom. This is primarily accurate in my situation with teams of learners with considerably less than about 250 get hold of hours of English which is equal to 3rd semester or significantly less. Be aware: Atkinson (1987 and passim) states 150 several hours or considerably less (2nd semester) for this stage even though I have found it typically extends into an further semester.

On celebration, college students will carry in a music or lyrics, ordinarily Rock or Pop tunes, and inquire the which means of a phrase, phrase, expression or often even the title. In providing the asked for explanation (when I can), I use comparisons and / or translations into Spanish as usually as is important. The identical may well take place with dialogue from well-known films, motion pictures and video clips manufactured for indigenous speakers of English. In rare occasions, a cassette recording of a radio broadcast or e book-on-tape has built its way into my classroom for the exact explanations.

A final popular instance in my use of L1 in the classroom is with learners in “repeat” or “remedial” lessons of LEP learners. Because these learners have presently shown that the “traditional” instructing approaches provided for in their study course publications is insufficient in instructing them the content. All these learners have failed the program at this degree at minimum once, some 2 times or extra. I subsequently use a sequence of alternate methodologies like translation and other types of input / suggestions in the learners L1 to support in the learning – acquisition approach. These techniques have, in simple fact, proved to be extremely productive. One cause may well be that use of specially-qualified methodologies and altered classroom conditions assist to reduce the learners Affective Filters (Krashen – Terrell, 1983) and immediate the new materials and lexis to them in ways much more appropriate with their unique Several Intelligences and most popular learning variations (Gardner, 1983).


In conclusion I have said that my use of L1 in the EFL classroom is minimum and ought to not exceed a ratio of a lot more than 5% of the L1 to 95% of the target language. Key EFL classroom situations in which L1 can be used include:

o requesting new lexis

o outlining summary phrases

o to support in the generation of comprehensible input / manufacturing

o in the course of tests and other substantial-pressure situations

o to manage the circulation of dynamic actions

o to make clear idioms and expressions in music, videos and videos

o offering details / directions to LEP learners

o in adapting materials to the particular requirements of the learners

Whilst the use of the learners L1 ought to be strictly managed, it is plausible to make correct use of it in functions to promote finding out and acquisition. Ongoing language acquisition investigate and in-class follow supports that use of L1 really should not be prohibited for its personal sake, but allowed often as an supplemental tool in the repertoire of the teacher and the learners as disorders warrant.

Take note: Academic references for this report are available on ask for.