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    • Join Date: Aug 2003
    • Posts: 70

    Use of 1st language in the class

    Hi all,

    I just wanted your opinions on the use of 1st language in class. I have been teaching Englsh at primary/elementary level approximately 3 years and it always appears a no no with teachers and parents. They all use basically the same line as if they have lifted it from the same bible and the utterance of any of the native tongue is basically the reason why kids don't speak like a native English speaker within 5 minutes of being dropped at their first kindergarten lesson!

    Personally, I think it's important that the children understand what they are learning and in context. Furthermore, I have noticed many activities that are explained by the Asian teacher get a far better emotional response and positive reaction from the kids than when I explain it and they only grasp 2 slices of the pie rather than the whole dessert.

    A further point was a case last week in one of my primary 5 classes. We were practicing the phonics blend 'ng' and some of the kids were struggling with it so In my limited written language ability with their native tongue I wrote the exact same sound on the board. Instantly the whole class errupted in cheer and they had all instantly pronounced it 100% correctly. It appeared to me they actually appreciated the fact I was trying not just to preach superior English and culture of the west (that all too often comes over with many teachers) but that I was actually trying to learn their language and was relating to the difficulties that they have with my own. There was a huge difference in positive energy for the rest of the lesson from this one moment and the kids had a much higher concentration level throughout.

    I'm not for a moment advocating a huge 30/40- 50/60 % ratio but I do like input from my co-teacher and feel their involvement greatly helps. I will also continue to use this approach unless there is huge evidence-that this is a sin next to murder!

    I would greatly appreciate the input of all of you with great experience such as Cas and your opinions on this as its started to become a drag hearing this all to common moan!

  1. Editor,
    English Teacher
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
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      • Laos

    • Join Date: Nov 2002
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    Re: Use of 1st language in the class

    I have never seen a reason for regarding L1 as some sort ofg crime. It can be used as a tool like any other, as long as it isn't overused, which may inhibit independence.

  2. DavyBCN's Avatar
    English Teacher
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      • Native Language:
      • English
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      • Wales
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      • Rwanda

    • Join Date: Jul 2006
    • Posts: 346

    Re: Use of 1st language in the class

    Quote Originally Posted by tdol View Post
    I have never seen a reason for regarding L1 as some sort ofg crime. It can be used as a tool like any other, as long as it isn't overused, which may inhibit independence.
    Totally agree. I teach adults of different levels here and I treat them as adults. I see little point in spending ages trying to teach what may be a very small point (even the exact meaning of a word), and which for some reason isn't being understood, if the alternative is to use their language.

    The secret (to me anyway) is to know my own limitations in L1. Quite often words and phrases have changed their meanings and/or usages and this has not been reflected in my own Spanish learning materials. Some funny - but also very complicated - misunderstandings result. Tdol's point about independence is crucial. I bite my tongue in many classes so as to give students the time and communication with other students to come up with their own answers. These are the situations where they are likely to remember something new.

    From a selfish point of view, of course, using some L1 has helped with my Spanish learning.

    • Join Date: Aug 2003
    • Posts: 70

    Re: Use of 1st language in the class

    Many thanks for the input guys, and of course anyone elses opinion would also be appreciated. I must admit I like my co-teacher to explain general meanings of what we are doing so the kids have a clear understanding of what were learning.

    For example, How old are you? I'm 10 years old.

    Is all well and good, but if the kids don't understand what they are saying what have we accomplished? To me it just ensures that 100% of the class are clear about what we are doing and none have slipped under the net, however small a number it maybe.


    • Join Date: Jun 2005
    • Posts: 9

    Smile Re: Use of 1st language in the class

    i totally agree with you guys... using the students' first language should not be looked at as a sin or something which should not be done ... on the contraray using the student's first language could be of great help to the teacher saves valuble time in trying to explain to the students whetever you want to say .... what's the point of spending so much time explaing an idea or a certain rule in English and the students dont have a clue of what your talking about .. its useless....
    From my experience befor i go and use the students language ... itry to look for other options to deliver the mesage i want the students to get ..if i still have douts or uncertain of whether the students got my mesg or not ... of cource i would ...use the student first language .....
    But i would say ... we alwayes should look for other options rather than depending on translating into L1.... and we should not make the students get the idea that transaltion into L1 is alwayes used whenever the mesge is not clear ..

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