Multilingual Students’ Attitudes Towards Teachers’ Use of First Language in Second Language Teaching
Abstract: The purpose of this essay was to identify multilingual students’ attitudes towards teachers’ use of a first language in the second-language classroom. For the last decades, the number of children growing up in a multilingual environment has been increasing. There has been much debate about first language use in the second language classroom and about the most effective method for promoting language acquisition. Students’ opinions, attitudes and beliefs are a significant contributing factor in the learning process. This study investigated, from the viewpoint of students, how they perceive, react to and benefit from teachers’ use of a first language in a second language classroom. A study was conducted among students in an international school, where not all students shared the same L1 as their teacher. A small focus group examined the questions using the think-aloud method to enable the students to understand the questions. Stephen Krashen’s natural teaching approach and language acquisition theory is emphasized and discussed in the essay. The conclusion suggests not using L1 in a multilingual classroom; but using only the target language should be used for communication in such a classroom. However, the results of the study do indicate that students seem to benefit from using L1 to define new vocabulary or difficult concepts. The use of L1 is particularly advantageous at certain times during a lesson, but awareness of those times can be challenging for teachers. Their classroom practice should consider both the native languages of the learners and the target language to be practiced by using both of them in the best interests of the students.
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