Using Learners’ First Language in EFL Classrooms


This paper aims to explore the attitudes of English as a foreign language (EFL) teachers towards using learners’ first language (L1) in their classes. It also considers the frequency and the functions of using L1 in EFL classes. Monolingual teaching and minimising the use of learners’ L1 are traditionally promoted in English language teaching (ELT) research (e.g., Howatt, 1984; Krashen, 1985). Recently, there has been an upsurge in research that shows that L1 is actually used in EFL classes to serve different learning functions (e.g., Hall & Cook, 2013; Sali, 2014). Few researchers have, however, investigated the use of L1 by EFL teachers in the higher education context in an Arabic-speaking country (Saudi Arabia). Given the debate in the literature, it is relevant to examine the way in which second language acquisition theories and teaching methodologies relate to teachers’ attitudes towards using L1. A mixed-method study using questionnaires and follow-up interviews was conducted to collect the data from EFL teachers teaching in the preparatory year at King Abdulaziz University. Questionnaires were collected from about 70 EFL teachers from different countries such as USA, India and Pakistan. In addition, semi-structured interviews were carried out with four teachers to gain an in-depth understanding of teachers’ attitudes towards using L1 in EFL classes. The findings shed light on the functions of using L1 in EFL classes. They also provide an insight into teachers’ attitudes towards the use of L1 and highlight certain factors that affect such attitudes.

Author Information
Eman Alshehri, King Abdulaziz University, Saudi Arabia

Paper Information
Conference: ECLL2016
Stream: Language education

This paper is part of the ECLL2016 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon