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When And Why To Use The Mother Tongue In EFL Classes

using the mother tongue in EFL classes

Do you think we should exclude the mother tongue from our English teaching completely?

Do you think the mother tongue is useful on occasion, only if we cannot use English or it is a useful and effective resource that we should use frequently to facilitate the learning of English?

Definition of the Mother Tongue

It is any language that the learners have learned during childhood.

What Research says

The majority of EFL teachers use the learners’ mother tongue in class and the learners themselves use their mother tongue frequently in class. However, most teachers know little about how, when and why to use the mother tongue in their teaching English as a foreign language.

Two Key Questions to Discuss

  1. When should and when shouldn’t you use the mother tongue and why?
  2. How can you use it?

You Shouldn’t Use the Mother Tongue When You:

  • Are giving instructions.
  • Use classroom language, e.g. Good morning, Sit down, etc.
  • Teach new vocabulary.
  • Teach speaking practice activities.
  • Allow the learners to do grammar exercises in pairs.
  • Do a translation activity with students from the mother tongue to English.

You Should Use the Mother Tongue When You:

  • Are giving instructions to do a complex or a new activity.
  • Want to check that students understood your explanation when teaching new vocabulary.
  • Teach very difficult words, especially abstract words and can’t find a picture or ask a CCQ to check the meaning.
  • Tell the students a difference between the mother tongue and English.
  • Explain a grammatical item that has no equivalent in the mother tongue.
  • Allow the learners to take notes about a grammatical or a vocabulary item especially when they are comfortable about that or when the item is difficult.

To learn more about using the mother tongue in EFL classes, click:

When to Use Students’ Mother Tongue in EFL Classes

If you think there are more cases for using or not using the mother tongue, let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

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P.S. This post was proofread by Grammarly

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