Skip to main content

Role of L1 (Native Language) in English Language Learning and Teaching

Benazir Marjan has completed her second Masters in English Language and Linguistics from University of Liberal Arts, Bangladesh.


Role of L1 (native language) in English Language Learning and Teaching

English is the global language, language of education throughout the world, an international language of communication. Even though native language is very important for us to acquire knowledge, still importance of learning English is beyond explanation. There is strong inter-relationship between native language and second language (English/L2) regarding knowledge acquisition and also English language acquisition. There are massive effects of using native language in the classroom concerning both the ease of subject matter and also second (English/ L2) language acquisition.

Certain consequential facts are describing bellow:

1. Use of L1 helps teachers to make students’ better understanding of Target Language:

L1 can be used without consequences which improve the quality of learning in that learner are more comfortable asking questions and communicating their concerns to their instructors. L1’s use among L2 learners proved to facilitate productive and efficient interactions when completing collaborative tasks. In developing countries, where literacy rate is raised recently, there is a huge bump of this issue there. In developed country they can grab L2 fast, but in developing country as education system is not very high class, so it will take time for those students to acquire L2. Relationship between L1 on understanding L2 is very much positive. As we know it is simpler to describe anything in native language straight forward and also for the students to understand.

2. The role of L1 depends on students’ background/age:

Students’ background and age affect students’ understanding in a particular class. The younger students need more help of L1 to acknowledge the class content and complete their work. Students’ background also related in case of necessity of using L1 in the class room. The children from higher class and educated of society who had been providing quality time, tuition and guidance can easily grab L2 indeed.

3. The role of L1 depends on teachers’ ability to harmonize, balance among excellent, average and poor students:

Teachers have to take the class in such a balanced way so that using L1 does not prohibits students from using and understanding of L2. There are excellent, average and also poor students in a class. If they use only L2 may not good for the students. Also if they give lecture only on L1 also may not good for the students. They have to identify where to use which language for perfect understanding of the students.

If teachers use L1 and L2 in a balanced way, helps students to participate in the class room properly as they can understand the subject matter clearly.

4. Direct usage of L2 slowdowns students’ comprehension process:

Any teacher needs to deliver her lecture in the best way to make it very feasible before all students. Direct usage of L2 may slowdown students understanding process.

When students were entertained with both languages while taking the class, this step made their understanding very easy inside the class and also encouraged enough class participation in the class room as well. Teachers have to deliver the message in this way so that students would be able to understand and learn. Using L1 helps students to understand better L2.

Scroll to Continue

There must be a good interaction between teacher and students to learn a language. If the teacher asks questions only in L2 and the students could not understand the questions, they will not able to answer. So due to lack of understanding they will not able to learn L2 properly. L1 will help to make their interactions effective where it will be needed.

5. For younger students it is must to use code switching for the teachers:

Code switching could be a very good solution for younger students to understand about the content and study material. Code switching is shifting from one language to another.

In the class room if the teacher gives a statement in English and then translate it into the native language then it will be code switching, which will help the students to understand better about the content, therefore will help them to understand better usage of L2. Once they will understand the topic well with the help of code switching from the teacher they will learn and understand more.

6. Direct usage of L2 makes students distracted in the class: As Students tend to talk among themselves, thus, when teacher uses only L2, they seek for translation from their peers. They talk among themselves and get distracted in the class.

7. Sometimes Students get a wrong outcome of the class: They don’t understand about the task instruction when the teacher uses only L2. They misunderstand the requirement the teacher gives to them and the outcome of the class comes wrong.

8. Direct usage of L2 breaks students’ confidence: Students don’t get clear ideas about the subject matter, get confused in the class, and therefore lose their confidence due to lack of adequate knowledge possession.

9. Sometimes teachers lose control in the class while using only L2 in the class: Not getting the exact points in the class, students concentrate less in the class, they get over excited, talk among themselves a lot and teachers lose control in the class.

10. Teachers won’t able to produce quality learners from the class due to using only L2:

Students get a haphazard way of learning as they don’t understand the specification from the teacher while using only L2 as MOI (medium of instruction), sequence of learning process of a student breaks down. Therefore, teachers won’t able to produce quality learners from the class due to using only L2.

11. The teacher gets unable to reach her goal or fulfill the objective of taking the particular class:

While using only L2 as MOI, it may create deficiency in students’ acknowledgement process. Thus, the teacher may not be able to reach to her goal of taking a particular class.

However, the use of L1 should be carefully and consistently employed so that it would be positively beneficial for the L2 learning. This is the main certitude where the role of L1 in ELT (English Language Learning and Teaching) will be 100% worthy.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Benazir Marjan

Related Articles