In this TESL article, the advantages and disadvantages of L1 use in the English-language classroom will be explored. Suggestions on how to capitalize mother tongue use in an effective and judicious manner will be offered in Part II.
On the topic of language learning, there are many stories of students going abroad for a period of time and returning home fluent in the foreign language. The reason for this dramatic change is often attributed to the fact that the student was completely immersed in the culture and the language, and “nobody spoke my language so I had to learn theirs.” Because of the seemingly huge success, many language schools and teachers all over the world (in English-speaking countries such as Canada, United States, and England, and non-English-speaking countries such as Costa Rica, Thailand, and France) choose to adopt and enforce an English-only policy to recreate that full immersion experience for their students. But does it really make a difference? And what are the benefits and repercussions?