AN ANALYTICAL REVIEW OF RESEARCH ON THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN L1 AND L2 LEARNING: WHERE ARE WE?
United Arab Emirates University (UNITED ARAB EMIRATES)
The role of the native language (NL) and culture in a second language (L2) context has been debated for over 200 years (Gass, 1996). Most of the early debate, however, did not concern learning per se, but was centered around the value of using the NL in the classroom. The issues and questions surrounding the use of NL information have changed. Within the past 50 years we have witnessed great flux in research directions, traditions, and assumptions. On the other hand, many institutions in the Arab world have prohibited the use of NL in the classroom, which is commonly perceived to be an impediment to L2 learning. This pedagogical decision, however, is not fully supported by recent research findings. Accordingly, the present study, first, traces the conceptual history of the notion “language transfer” from its early beginning to its current position within Universal Grammar. Second, it problematises the exclusion of L1 from the classroom and supports the notion of incorporating students’ input into pedagogical decision making processes. Third, it shows, as an example, how L1 culture affects the written production of L2 learners.