In his article, Harbord (1992) recommends that an English-language strategy should replace L1 strategies whenever possible. Using the L1 to save time, such as giving instructions for an activity, classroom administration, or chatting with students, is never a good reason. As mentioned in Part I, this is because using the L1 during these situations actually results in the loss of valuable opportunities for using English. It also sends a message to students that English is only a subject for learning, and they are not proficient enough to use it as a means of communication. So how can teachers demonstrate to students that they are capable of using English to communicate when it would be much easier and faster to use the mother tongue?
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?