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Pros and Cons of Using L1 in the Classroom Essay

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2. THE DEBATE
The idea to include L1 as part of the language teaching system has been debated upon in recent years. The strong anti-L1 suggest on a complete prohibition of L1 in classrooms, while many others see L1 as a tool to better students’ learning of the TL. This section will highlight the pros and cons arguments for using the L1 in classrooms, along with further evidence supporting the advantages mother tongue bring to the language learning, and teaching process.

2.1 ARGUMENTS AGAINST THE USE OF L1 IN CLASSROOMS
In the twentieth century, the avoidance of the using L1 in classrooms dominated teachers’ minds; as well it was implemented in many policies and guidelines of language teaching (Cook, 2001). Thornbury (2010) listed a set of arguments against using L1 in L2 classrooms mainly for that the translation of L2 into another language will play negative effects on students’ learning process. He pointed out that the use of L1 will result learners to have a cognitive dependence on their mother tongue at the expense of developing independence TL learning. Although the two language systems are not equivalent in many aspects, students may have an awareness of the notion of equivalence of the two languages if translation serves to convey meanings. Some argue that the use of translation to convey the meaning of the TL is more efficient and more memorable. However, Thornbury (2010) sees the opposite. He stated that the simple and direct way of translation will make L2 knowledge less memorable since the process lacks mental efforts in working out meanings.

Many researchers like Krashen (1985), Harmer (2007), and Turnbull (2001) emphasise that in most EFL (English as a foreign language) environment, a teacher’s English proficiency ...


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...L1 for instructions and assessments to avoid confusion.

On the other hand, teachers prefer using L1 for a more effective approach to teaching grammar and checking students’ understanding. Macaro (1997) commented that teachers often lack enthusiasm in using the target language for grammar explanation. Many students have difficulty in learning grammar, especially for those whose L1 system is entirely different from the TL. L1 can be more efficient, particularly when a teacher wants to discuss the learning contract with students, or tries to explore the needs of his/her students, especially those in the lower level (Harmer, 2007). Evidence provided by Harmer (2007) also indicates that the classroom environment can be enhanced through the use of L1 to establish a positive social relationship with students, which ultimately leads to a more effective teaching process.



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