What is the role of L1 in L2 classrooms?

Author: Nesrin Tantawy



Notwithstanding the long-established orthodoxy of avoiding all use of L1 in L2 contexts, a paradigm shift in the perception of L2 teaching and learning has recently been observed. Accordingly, a vast number of researchers put a spotlight on employing L1 as a teaching and mediating tool in EFL settings and whether this would underlie positive or negative implications on second language teaching and learning. In view of the fact that the KHDA (Knowledge and Human Development Authority 2014) in Dubai accentuates student learning, it is believed that the teacher’s role, as an informed decision-maker, is to determine the most suitable route to get to the desired end result with the intention of buttressing and elevating student learning (Pearson 2011). What teachers believe is seen as the indiscernible cognitive dimension that formulates the philosophy about their teaching practices (Borg 2003); hence, this study is conducted to tap into the bilingual EFL teachers’ perception of code-switching as a constructive instrument in their classrooms and whether utilizing L1 serves any pedagogical functions. Given that this study is piloted in the UAE, the shared L1 is Arabic and the L2 is English.