Zeynep Çolakoğlu Saburlu


International and domestic research makes it evident that there is an ongoing debate on the use of the first language in language teaching and it is one of the most problematic issues in foreign language classrooms. Most of the studies have been done on teachers’ attitudes and the reasons behind teachers’ L1 use. Yet there has been little research which has focused on students’ perceptions about the use of L1. The aim of this study is to reveal students’ perceptions towards the use of L1. The sample of this research consisted of ten students receiving English preparatory education at Gebze Technical University, in Turkey. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with ten students at the beginning of the term. The interview was repeated again to reveal the students’ views about whether the use of the first language is welcomed or avoided and if it is welcomed, when to use and what extent to use of L1 is helpful at the end of the term. It was found out that a great majority of the preparatory students had negative perceptions of the use of the first language, Turkish in foreign language learning and highlighted minimum use of L1. Although in their previous foreign education, they used L1 a lot, they claimed that it did not benefit. They asserted that they can learn the foreign language more quickly and easily, the more they are exposed to the foreign language, in which case they begin to internalize L2. They supported this view that they do not have any chance to be exposed to the foreign language outside the classroom. Comparing their pre and post-interview, it was concluded that students’ in the foreign languages department at Gebze Technical University are in favour of using the foreign language in foreign language classrooms.


Article visualizations:

Hit counter



English as a foreign language, use of the first language in foreign language education, student perceptions

Full Text:



Akbari, R. (2008). Transforming lives: Introducing critical pedagogy into ELT classrooms. ELT Journal, 62(3), 276-283.

Atkinson, D. (1987). The mother tongue in the classroom: A neglected resource?. ELT Journal, 41(4), 241-247.

Auerbach, E. R. (1993). Reexamining English only in the ESL classroom. Tesol Quarterly, 27(1), 9-32.

Bhooth, A., Azman, H., & Ismail, K. (2014). The role of the L1 as a scaffolding tool in the EFL reading classroom. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 118, 76-84.

Blackman, N. (2014). EFL teachers’ perceptions on the use of L1 in a primary and secondary classroom in Belarus. Unpublished master’s thesis). University of Edinburgh, Edinburg, Great Britain.

Butzkamm, W. (2003). We only learn language once. The role of the mother tongue in FL classrooms: death of a dogma. Language learning journal, 28(1), 29-39.

Calis, E., & Dikilitas, K. (2012). The use of translation in EFL classes as L2 learning practice. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 46, 5079-5084.

Chomsky, N. (1976). Reflection on Language. London: Tem¬ple Smith.

Cole, S. (1998). The use of L1 in communicative English classrooms. Language Teacher-Kyoto-JALT-, 22, 11-14.

Coleman, J. A. (2006). English-medium teaching in European higher education. Language teaching, 39(1), 1-14.

Cohen, L., Manion, L., Morrison, K., & Wyse, D. (2010). A guide to teaching practice. Routledge. education. Language teaching, 39(1), 1-14.

Dörnyei, Z. (2007). Research Methods in Applied Linguistics. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN-13: 978-0-19-442258-1. 336 páginas. Edición en inglés. marcoELE. Revista de Didáctica Español Lengua Extranjera, (11*), 1-10

Duff, P. A., & Polio, C. G. (1F990). How much foreign language is there in the foreign language classroom? The Modern Language Journal, 74(2), 154-166.

Eldridge, J. (1996). Code-switching in a Turkish secondary school. ELT journal, 50(4), 303-311.

Faltis, C., & Hudelson, S. (1994). Learning English as an additional language in K‐12 schools. Tesol Quarterly, 28(3), 457-468.

Garcia, O., Flores, N., & Woodley, H. (2012). Transgressing monolingualism and bilingual dualities: Translanguaging pedagogies. Harnessing linguistic variation to improve education, 45-75.

Garcia, O., & Wei, L. (2014). Translanguaging. The Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics, 1-7.

Gudykunst, W. B. (2004). Bridging differences: Effective intergroup communication: Sage.

Harbord, J. (1992). The use of the mother tongue in the classroom. ELT Journal, 46(4), 350–355.

Kim, Y., & Petraki, E. (2009). Students’ and teachers’ use of and attitudes to L1 in the EFL classroom. Asian EFL Journal, 11(4), 58-89.

Koucká, A. (2007). The Role of Mother Tongue in English Language Teaching. Unpublished Master’s thesis). University of Pardubice, Czech Republic.

Krashen, S. D., & Terrell, T. D. (1983). The natural approach: Language acquisition in the classroom.

Lankshear, C., & Knobel, M. (2004). A handbook for teacher research. McGraw-Hill Education (UK).

Lin, A. (2006). Beyond linguistic purism in language-in-education policy and practice: Exploring bilingual pedagogies in a Hong Kong science classroom. Language and Education, 20(4), 287-305.

Littlewood, W., & William, L. (1981). Communicative language teaching: An introduction: Cambridge University Press.

Lo, Y. Y., & Lin, A. M. (2019). Curriculum genres and task structure as frameworks to analyse teachers’ use of L1 in CBI classrooms. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 22(1), 78-90.

Luk, J., & Lin, A. (2015). Voices without words: Doing critical literate talk in English as a second language. Tesol Quarterly, 49(1), 67-91.

Macaro, E. (2001). Analysing student teachers’ codeswitching in foreign language classrooms: Theories and decision making. The Modern Language Journal, 85(4), 531-548.

Mackey, A., & Gass, S. (2005). Common data collection measures. Second language research: methodology and design. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum, 43-99.

Miles, D. (2004).Evaluating the use of L1 in the English Language Classroom. Unpublished Dissertation. University of Birmingham: UK.

Miri, M., Alibakhshi, G., & Mostafaei-Alaei, M. (2017). Reshaping teacher cognition about L1 use through critical ELT teacher education. Critical Inquiry in Language Studies, 14(1), 58-98.

Nikula, T., & Moore, P. (2016). Exploring translanguaging in CLIL. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 1-13.

Nzwanga, M. A. (2000). A study of French-English codeswitching in a foreign language college teaching environment. The Ohio State University.

Polio, C. G., & Duff, P. A. (1994). Teachers' language use in university foreign language classrooms: A qualitative analysis of English and target language alternation. The Modern Language Journal, 78(3), 313-326.

Punch, K. F. (2013). Introduction to social research: Quantitative and qualitative approaches. Sage.

Rubin, J. (1975). What the" good language learner" can teach us. TESOL quarterly, 41-51.

Sali, P. (2014). An analysis of the teachers' use of L1 in Turkish EFL classrooms. System, 42, 308-318.

Sharma, K. (2006). Mother tongue use in English classroom. Journal of NELTA, 11(1-2), 80-87.

Stern, H. H. (1992). Issues and options in language teaching. P. Allen & B. Harley (Eds.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Tan, S. P. (2015). Interactions in the multilingual classroom: a case study of teacher beliefs and student attitudes on L1 use in multilingual classrooms: a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Second Language Teaching at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand. Massey University.

Taşkın, A. (2011). Perceptions on using L1 in language classrooms: A case study in a Turkish private university (Doctoral dissertation, Middle East Technical University).

Tavares, N. J. (2015). How strategic use of L1 in an L2-medium mathematics classroom facilitates L2 interaction and comprehension. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 18(3), 319-335.

Tunçay, B. (2014). Teachers' attitudes towards and practices of L1 use in EFL classroom. Bilkent University.

Turin, T. A. (2014). Reasons behind using L1 at primary level in English classes of Bangladeshi English medium schools (Doctoral dissertation, BRAC University).

Turnbull, M. (2001). There is a role for the L1 in second and foreign language teaching, but…. Canadian modern language review, 57(4), 531-540.

Turnbull, M., & Arnett, K. (2002). 11. Teachers’ uses of the target and first languages in second and foreign language classrooms. Annual review of applied linguistics, 22, 204.

Voicu, C.-G. (2012). Overusing mother tongue in English language teaching. International Journal of Communication Research, 2(3), 212.

Wilkins, D. A. (1974). Second Language Learning and Teaching. London: Edward.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright © 2015 - 2023. European Journal of Foreign Language Teaching (ISSN 2537-1754) is a registered trademark of Open Access Publishing GroupAll rights reserved.

This journal is a serial publication uniquely identified by an International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) serial number certificate issued by Romanian National Library (Biblioteca Nationala a Romaniei). All the research works are uniquely identified by a CrossRef DOI digital object identifier supplied by indexing and repository platforms.

All the research works published on this journal are meeting the Open Access Publishing requirements and can be freely accessed, shared, modified, distributed and used in educational, commercial and non-commercial purposes under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).