I wanna share suggested uses for the L1 in the EFL Classroom based on Atkinson (1987)
1. Eliciting language “How do you say ‘X’ in English?”
2. Checking comprehension “How do you say ‘I’ve been waiting for ten
minutes’ in Spanish?” (Also used for comprehension of a reading or
3. Giving complex instructions to basic levels
4. Co-operating in groups Learners compare and correct answers to
exercises or tasks in the L1. Students at times can explain new points
better than the teacher.
5. Explaining classroom methodology at basic levels
6. Using translation to highlight a recently taught language item
7. Checking for sense If students write or say something in the L2 that
does not make sense, have them try to translate it into the L1 to realize
8. Testing Translation items can be useful in testing mastery of forms and
9. Developing circumlocution strategies When students do not know how
to say something in the L2, have them think of different ways to say the
same thing in the L1, which may be easier to translate.
Strategy Spanish English
negative antonym vivo not dead
approximate synonym fue vergonzoso it was terrible
circumlocution se mostró reacio he didn’t want to do it
simplification el precio del viaje the ticket’s expensive
se compensa por lo but life’s cheap there
lo barata que es la
explanation pulpo it lives in the sea,
it’s got eight legs
ADAPTED FROM “THE MOTHER TONGUE IN THE CLASSROOM” BY DAVID ATKINSON.
Atkinson, D. 1987. The mother tongue in the classroom: A neglected resource? ETL Journal, 41, 4, pp. 241–247.
I’ll try to find other point of views.