Strength for Today and Bright Hope for Tomorrow

Volume 10 : 7 July 2010
ISSN 1930-2940

Managing Editor: M. S. Thirumalai, Ph.D.
Editors: B. Mallikarjun, Ph.D.
         Sam Mohanlal, Ph.D.
         B. A. Sharada, Ph.D.
         A. R. Fatihi, Ph.D.
         Lakhan Gusain, Ph.D.
         K. Karunakaran, Ph.D.
         Jennifer Marie Bayer, Ph.D.
         S. M. Ravichandran, Ph.D.



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Mother Tongue!
The Neglected Resource for English Language Teaching And Learning

Ravi Bhushan, Ph.D.


The role of mother tongue in teaching and learning of English has been discussed in literature. The influence of mother tongue is proved both positive and negative in teaching and learning of English. A learner's L1 is an important determinant of Second Language Acquisition. The L1 is a resource which learners use both consciously and subconsciously to help them arrange and re-arrange the L2 data in the input and to perform as best as they can. When and how L1 is put to use depends on Linguistic, Psychological and Sociolinguistics factors. Perhaps the influence of L1 is most evident in L2 phonology. Second language acquisition is a developmental process; L1 can be a contributing factor to it.

The cultural features connected with L1 use can be put to good effect when teaching L2. While attempting a writing task in any examination in which a sample writing task may be like writing an article for an international student magazine describing 'a festival or celebration in your country,' or similar topics that refer to their own cultural backgrounds, learners quite often resort to the knowledge of L1 to overcome their difficulty with English equivalents (e.g. Eid ul Fitr, Holi, etc.). This can be used as an opportunity to exploit L1 for L2 practice.


This paper makes an attempt to understand the role of L1 in the teaching and learning of English in the background of various socio-cultural factors.

The use of mother tongue, while teaching and learning English, has been an issue of debate. Most teachers feel that the use of L1 should be minimized, and they feel guilty if they use it a lot. When challenged they find it difficult to say why. Against the use of L1 is the general assumption that English should be learned through English, just as you learn your mother tongue using your mother tongue. But the idea that the learner should learn English like a native speaker does, or tries to 'think in English', is an inappropriate and unachievable aim.

A Reasonable Goal

English is a world 'lingua franca', and what we should be aiming for today is to make our learners into speakers of their own language who are also fully competent speakers of English. And a dangerous side-effect of banishing L1 from the English classroom is the implication that somehow the learners' mother tongue is inferior, or 'doesn't count', thus discriminating against the learners' linguistic identity.

The only really valid argument, in my opinion, in favor of minimizing (not banishing) L1 use is that over-use of L1 lessens the time available for English use in the classroom. Obviously, we want our students to have maximum exposure to English in our classes. But this means limiting L1 use, not banishing it altogether.

Insisting on keeping English only as the medium to learn English, even when students don't understand what is being said, may lead to discouragement and frustration of the learners. We shall use English as long as the students understand it well enough to get the message, and insist on their using it as long as they can get their message across. Otherwise, allow L1 use.

This is only the beginning part of the article. PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ THE ARTICLE IN PRINTER-FRIENDLY VERSION.

EAT Expressions in Manipuri | Learning from Movies - 'Slumdog Millionaire' and Language Awareness | Maternal Interaction and Verbal Input in Normal and Hearing Impaired Children | Role of L2 Motivation and the Performance of Intermediate Students in the English (L2) Exams in Pakistan | Problems in Ph.D. English Degree Programme in Pakistan - The Issue of Quality Assurance | Using Technology in the English Language Classroom | Teaching Literature through Language - Some Considerations | e-Learning of Japanese Pictography - Some Perspectives | Is It a Language Worth Researching? Ethnographic Challenges in the Study of Pahari Language | Using a Reading Material for Interactive Reading | Importance of Task-Based Teaching in Second Language Acquisition - A Review | Skill Enhancement Techniques - The Necessary Tools for the Indian Management Students | African American Literature and Ishmael Reed's Novels - Hoodism | Instances of Code Switching in Indian Television Serials | The Role of Compounding in Technical English Prescribed for Engineering Students in Tamilnadu | Polite Request Strategies as Produced by Yemeni EFL Learners | Manju Kapoor's Difficult Daughters - A Saga of Feminist Autonomy and Separate Identity | Reflections on Partition Literature - A Comparative Analysis of Ice Candy Man and Train to Pakistan | Mother Tongue! The Neglected Resource for English Language Teaching And Learning | Breaking the Good Mother Myths - A Study of the Novels of Amy Tan | Effect of Teachers' Academic Qualification on Students' L2 Performance at the Secondary Level | What Is Most Important? Fluency or Accuracy? Is Learning a Second Language a Conscious Process? | Let Us Learn from Our Standard 1 Textbook, Again! - A Brief Note on the New Standard 1 Tamil Textbook in Tamilnadu | Eugene O' Neill's The Hairy Ape - An American Expressionistic Play | A PRINT VERSION OF ALL THE PAPERS OF JULY 2010 ISSUE IN BOOK FORMAT | HOME PAGE of July 2010 Issue | HOME PAGE | CONTACT EDITOR

Ravi Bhushan, Ph.D.
BPS Mahila Vishwavidyalaya
Khanpur Kalan 131005
Haryana, India

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