First Language L1 In The Second Language Essay

Length: 24 pages Sources: 40 Subject: Communication - Language Type: Essay Paper: #94073550 Related Topics: Second Language, Mother Tongue, English Second Language, Second Language Acquisition
Excerpt from Essay :

¶ … first language (L1) in the second language EFL classroom (L2). The study provides a brief historical background of the use of native or target language for a classroom teaching. The literatures are also reviewed to enhance to a greater understanding on the Contrastive Analysis Hypothesis. Theoretical arguments are provided to support or against the use of monolingual or bilingual approach in a teaching environment. While some scholars believe that monolingual approach is the best to teaching, some scholars support bilingual approach.

There is a growing debate among scholars, academicians and professionals whether a classroom teaching of ELT (English language teaching) should exclude or include native language (LI) and the issue has led leading to a long-term controversy. (Brown, 2000). Supporters of monolingual approach argue that instructors should avoid using L1 in the classroom environment. At the end of the 19th century, supporters of the Direct Method banned the use native language. However the positive role of native language in classrooms has been recently acknowledged on the ground that native language is a rich resource in the classroom environment and if used judiciously can enhance a greater understanding of learning and teaching of a target language. (Cook, 2001). However, there is still no positive agreement on the exact role of both L1 and L2. The review of the literature provides the historical overview of the debate.

1.Historical Review

The idea of avoiding the native language or mother tongue in classroom language teaching dated back to several centuries. "The development of ELT as a casual career for young people visiting Europe encouraged teachers to make a virtue of the necessity of using only English." (Harbord, 1992 p 350). Moreover, the growth of the training movement of British-based teacher with the need to train teachers working in multilingual classes reinforces the avoidance of mother tongue. Over the years, the effect avoidance of mother tongue in classroom has made vast majority of non-native speakers, who constitute majority of language teachers to feel guilty in their ability to teach with their mother tongue or native language in an English classroom environment. Many non-native speakers have tried to switch to all and only English classroom, only to discover that they are inadequately equipped with L2 (second language or target language of learning) strategies. At the same time, in some part of world, there has been a growth of a movement about the influx of unqualified native speakers aiming for classroom teaching with the aim of earning money. The consequence has made many companies or schools to shield away from employing native speakers whether qualified or not. (Harbord, 1992). However, Brooks-Lewis (2009) point out that the debate about using L1 in EFL teaching has arisen with varying level of intensity. While the inclusion of L1 has been theoretical verified, justified and pedagogically accepted, however, the exclusion is based on unexamined assumption.

Historically, teaching a foreign language is always based on the understanding that teaching should be taught by student's first language. In 1590, there was an introduction of double translation to make learners be conscious of the resources and structure of his or her own language. However, in the early 18th century, the concept of using mother tongue was challenged based on the strict instruction from parents that not a word of the [L1] must be spoken in schools. However, at the end of 19th century, there was a growing movement to opposition to L1 in the classroom. In the 19th century, there was a Direct Method attempt to build observation in language learning and making the second language similar to first language. The approach of Direct Method is to teach grammar inductively and introduce oral communication progressively where classroom instruction is based uniquely on the target language. (Richards, & Rodgers, 2001). At that period, the Direct Method was successful in private schools, however, its implementation in public secondary schools was challenging because its successful implementation only required native speakers. The drawback of the approach made the Direct Method to decline in 1920s. Between 1920s and 1930s, the Reform Movement served as the basis of teaching technique, which later gave birth to the "British approach to teaching English as a foreign language." (Richards, & Rodgers, 2001, p 2).

The paper provides a greater understanding of Contrastive Analysis Hypothesis to reveal the historical overview of the debate whether the use of ELT should include or exclude students of L1.

1.1: Contrastive Analysis Hypothesis

Contrastive Analysis is the first major


After the World War II, interest in teaching foreign language increased in the United States in order to predict learning difficulties that learners face when learning two languages. The goal was to make the process of learning two languages easier for learners. Robert Lado's formulates the theoretical foundation of the Contrastive Analysis Hypothesis, which provides a greatest contribution to the field of contrastive studies. (Krzeszowski, 1990).

Contrastive linguistics is a sub-discipline of linguistics concerned with the field of cross-language comparison focusing on methodology and theory of comparison. Thus, contrastive analysis could be used interchangeable with the above-mentioned concept. Contrastive grammar refers to "the product of contrastive studies, as a bilingual grammar highlighting the differences across languages" (Krzeszowski 1990, p 11).

Between 1950s and 1960s, the CAH (Contrastive Analysis Hypothesis) was widely accepted in the United States for pedagogical studies and used as the teaching method for audio-lingual learning. The basic assumption of contractive hypothesis is that "the principal barrier to second language acquisition is the interference of the first language system with the second language system & #8230;" and "… that second language learning basically involved the overcoming of the differences between the two linguistic systems -- the native and target languages" (Brown 1980, p 148). Typically, the concept interference shows that any influence of L1 will have a significant effect on the acquisition of L2. Brown (2000) supports the assumption of L1 interference on learner's performances in second language. The practical assumption of Lado is based on his practical experience. Lado was a Spanish native speaker and an immigrant into the U.S.A. Lado theoretical framework was based on the difficulties his Spanish-speaking parents faced when learning English and how interference was shown in their speech. Lado's assumption rests on the fact it is easy to describe and predict patterns that may cause difficulties in learning and those that may not cause difficulties by systematically comparing the learning language and native language of learners. (Lado, 1957).

Lado further claims that learners who are exposed to foreign languages will find some elements in the language that are quite simple and other elements extremely difficult. Those features similar to native languages will be simple for learners, however, those features different from native language will be difficult for learners. The tutors who are able to make a comparison of a learner's foreign language will be able to identify learning problems that students face, which will assists tutors' teaching strategy.

The Contrastive Analysis Hypothesis was later divided into strong version based on scientific description of learning language and carefully comparing with the native language. (Brown 2000). However, Wardhaugh, (1970) pointed out that the strong version was impracticable and unrealistic. A weak version of the CAH was formulated in reaction to the criticisms on the strong version. The weak version does not imply the prior prediction of difficulty; however, weak version identifies a significant interference across languages, which assists in explaining linguistic difficulties. The explanatory power of weak version is that it assists foreign language teachers to understand the sources of errors made by the students.

Between 1960s and 1970 in the United States, the CAH was extensively used for the SLA (Second Language Acquisition) and as a strategy of explaining the features of target language. Behaviorist theorists argue that language learning is a question of habit formation, which could automatically impede and reinforce existing habits. Mastering some structure in second language depends on difference between learner native language and the language a leaner is trying to learn. Lado (1957) claims that

"Individuals tend to transfer the forms and meanings, and the distribution of forms and meanings of their native language and culture to the foreign language and culture --both productively when attempting to speak the language and to act in the culture, and receptively when attempting to grasp and understand the language and the culture as practiced natives." (Lado, 1957p 5).

Lado was the first scholar to provide a comprehensive theoretical treatment and systematic set of procedures to contrastive study of languages. In 1960s, many people were enthusiastic with this approach and its descriptions were integrated in several European languages. There were a wide believe that Contrastive Analysis approach was an effective method to efficiently design language course. The Contrastive Analysis claimed that all errors made in learning the L2 could be attributed to the interference of L1. Gramley, & Gramley, (2008) argue that the main idea of contrastive analysis is that it is possible to identify difficulties a foreign language could present to native…

Sources Used in Documents:


Abdul-Rahman, Q.T. (2006). Teachers' and Students' Practices and Attitudes Toward Arabic (L1) Use in Partial Fulfillment of Master of Arts, American University of Sharjah.

Alshammari, M.M. (2011). The Use Of The Mother Tongue In Saudi EFL Classrooms. Journal of International Education Research, 95-102.

Auerbach, E.R. (1993). Reexamining English Only in the ESL Classroom. TESOL Quarterly, 9-32.

Atkinson, D. (1987). The mother tongue in the classroom: a neglected resource? ELTJournal, 241-247.

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