Posted by: sekolahbahasainggris | May 21, 2008

The L1 in the EFL Classroom based on Atkinson (1987)

It’s interesting,
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
listening text.)
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
their error.
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

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.





  1. Hi mate. Good that you wrote about using L1 an EFL classroom. Hopefully our colleagues will know that it’s not a “sin” anymore to use students’ native language(s) in class providing that it can support their understanding about L2. I reckon, it might be much better if you discuss each point separately and give some more examples (he..he nyusahin ya..)

  2. Yes. If we cannot find any other way of explaining the terms in simpler L2, we may use L1. I’ll try to write further about this topic. Give me some time, OK hehehe. BTW, I believe it will be nicer if this writing is edited. It’s look ‘messy’.

  3. I like the topic and the discussion above, but just like the previous topic, we still do not have a single student to join! Can you explain to me Thyas, why? Thx.

  4. May I share my opinion, Sir?
    The students can be grouped to discuss some issues. For example, dealing with the use of L1 in L2 teaching learning process, the students should state their opinion on the impact of L1 in acquiring L2. Then they should have a stand whether L1 can be used by teachers, the bad impact and the advantages. When L1 can be used. Etc. Then the students are given some references on this topic (such as the one I’ve sent). To be discussed further. Like in Cpt. Rois’ blog, the students have to do some tasks with writing the topics given.
    Thank you, Sir.

  5. I really want English teacher to check this site:

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