THE USE OF L1 IN TEACHER TALK IN TEACHING ENGLISH AT THE LOWER-PRIMARY LEVEL IN POLAND - RESEARCH RESULTS IN GRADE I
The use of the first language in teaching foreign languages is connected with two different policies, namely monolingual policy and bilingual policy. The monolingual policy refers to the situation in which both the teacher and learners use only the target language in all types of interaction in the classroom. The main advantage of this approach is creating linguistically rich environment in which comprehensible input, interaction and negotiation of meaning foster the acquisition of the target language, especially with respect to the communicative competence. The bilingual policy advocates judicious use of the first language by the participants of classroom discourse. The main advantage of this policy is that using L1 is a quick and easy way of presenting different language items, giving instructions or reflecting on the learning process. However, if the use of L1 becomes extensive and unjustified within this policy, the foreign language is treated as another school subject and not a means of communication.
Generally speaking, learners’ first language is used during foreign language lessons for different aims. Core goals are understood as the goals which refer to developing particular language areas and skills. Framework goals are defined as the goals which are connected with lesson organization and classroom management. Social goals are construed as the goals which refer to the relationship between the teacher and learners.
The use of the first language in teacher talk may be divided into different types. Native talk is defined as unjustified use of L1, i.e. the kind of use in which the use of L1 is unnecessary because L2 could be used instead without causing any problems to learners. Alternated talk refers to using L2 and L1 interchangeably. In concurrent talk, the teacher translates his own sentences from L2 to L1 or vice versa. Switched talk, characteristic for bilingual and multilingual language users, consists in switching from one language to another in the same utterance. Parallel talk occurs when the teacher uses the target language in the lesson while learners are allowed to speak their first language at the same time. Glossed talk refers to excessive use of translation whereby learners are asked to translate whole sentences during language practice. Finally, metalinguistic talk refers to the use of grammatical terminology characteristic for grammar presentation.
The patterns of the first language use may be interpreted in three different ways. Firstly, the choice of language may be compensatory or strategic, i.e. L1 is used to compensate for problems teachers believe to have with their learners’ language level, ability, discipline or motivation, or to compensate for their own lack of confidence, preparation or proficiency. Secondly, the choice of language refers to creating the level of formality in classroom discourse, to structuring lessons and controlling behaviour. Thirdly, it is related to such interpersonal factors as alignment, emphasis and evaluation.
The aim of the following paper is to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the monolingual and bilingual policy in teaching foreign languages to young learners and to present partial results of the study into the teacher’s use of the first language in teaching English as a foreign language at the lower-primary level.