When to Use Students’ Mother Tongue in EFL Classes

using mother tongue in EFL classes

A teacher should insist on and encourage using English in primary or low-level classes so that students:

  • will have the opportunity to practice using English in context.
  • will improve their listening skills.
  • learn and practice common or repeated classroom language or routines in English. (e.g. Please open your books on page, … etc.).

A teacher can encourage students to use English in EFL classes by:

  • asking common and useful questions. ( e.g. What does X mean? How do you spell ____? etc.).
  • keeping a list of useful and common statements and questions on a classroom wall or getting the students to keep this list in their notebooks.
  • allowing students to demonstrate their understanding by doing an action that counts as using English in the class.

But there are some cases in which the use of students’ mother tongue is allowed in EFL classes.

Teachers can use students’ mother tongue when:

  • translating abstract words like “love” or “hate”
  • checking that students knew the meaning of a word after presenting it.
  • explaining a difficult grammar point so that students can understand how it is expressed using both the English language and the students’ mother tongue. language.
  • explaining a cultural reference so that the context is clear.

Students can use their mother tongue in EFL classes when:

  • explaining to a classmate how to do a task providing help to them. Students often don’t have the English skills necessary to explain in English.
  • discussing a grammar point with a classmate helping each other to understand something in English.
  • doing a speaking activity using a word in the mother tongue when they don’t know the English one.

Do you think there are more cases? Let me know your thought by leaving a comment below.

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