L1 in the Primary English Classroom: How Much, When, How and Why?

Document Type: Original Article


Aston University



 The use of L1 in L2 classes has long been debated in the field of TESOL. Although at least some use of the L1 is now widely advocated, questions remain about what might count as acceptable or effective use. While a number of studies have been carried out in secondary and tertiary settings to investigate these questions, research in primary school settings remains relatively rare. This article addresses the gap by investigating L1 use in primary classes in Turkey. Drawing on observational and interview data with five primary EFL teachers, we investigate how much, when, how, and why teachers use L1 in their English classrooms. The results showed that, despite some negative attitudes towards L1 use, the teachers used it to different degrees and for various purposes including giving instruction, providing feedback and asking questions. The teachers also identified a number of practical reasons for their decisions, namely, students’ proficiency level, achieving target-curriculum, saving time and teaching specific language points. We conclude that L1 is an inseparable part of the L2 classroom, and each teacher has their own unique way of using it.