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Native Language in Foreign Language Learning

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Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of UK Essays.

1.1 Introduction

The debate over whether English language classrooms should include or exclude students' native language has been a controversial issue for a long time (Brown, 2000). Although the use of mother tongue was banned by the supporters of the Direct Method at the end of the nineteenth century, the positive role of the mother tongue has recurrently been acknowledged as a rich resource which, if used judiciously, can assist second language learning and teaching (Cook, 2001). Therefore, this research study tries to open up a new horizon for English instructors to find a thoughtful way to use learners' mother tongue in second language teaching.

The technique in which L1 was used in this study was translation from L1 to L2, a technique which was rarely used by EFL teachers. Atkinson (1987) was one of the first and chief advocates of mother tongue use in the communicative classroom. He points out the methodological gap in the literature concerning the use of the mother tongue and argues a case in favour of its restricted and principled use, mainly in accuracy-oriented tasks. In his article, Atkinson (1987) clearly stated that translation to the target language which emphasizes a recently taught language item is a means to reinforce structural, conceptual and sociolinguistic differences between the native and target languages. In his view, even though this activity is not communicative, it aims at improving accuracy of the newly learned structures. Similarly, this research aimed at investigating the effect of translation from L1 to L2 on the accurate use of the structures.

The arguments in supports of using the learners' mother tongue in L2 instruction clearly reveal that not only doesn't the use of first language have a negative impact on L2 learning, but it can be factor to help students improve the way they learn a second language. Although the 'English Only' paradigm continues to be dominant in communicative language teaching , research into teacher practice reveals that the L1 is used as a learning resource in many ESL classes (Auerbach, 1993). Auerbach added that when the native language was used, practitioners, researchers, and learners consistently report positive results. Furthermore, he identifies the following uses of mother tongue in the classroom: classroom management, language analysis and presenting rules that govern grammar, discussing cross-cultural issues, giving instructions or prompts, explaining errors, and checking comprehension. Although the provision of maximum L2 exposure to the learners seems essential, L1 can be used alongside L2 as a complement. In this regard, Turnbull (2001) stated that maximizing the target language use does not and should not mean that it is harmful for the teacher to use the L1. “a principle that promotes maximal teacher use of the target language acknowledges that the L1 and target language can exist simultaneously" (p. 153).

Similarly, Stern (1992) stated that "the use of L1 and target language should be seen as complementary, depending on the characteristics and stages of the language learning process" (p. 285). On the other hand, overuse of L1 will naturally reduce the amount of exposure to L2. Therefore, attempt should be made to keep a balance between L1 and L2 use. In this regard, Turnbull (2001) acknowledges that although it is efficient to make a quick switch to the L1 to ensure, for instance, whether students understand a difficult grammar concept or an unknown word, it is crucial for teachers to use the target language as much as possible in contexts in which students spend only short periods of time in class, and when they have little contact with the target language outside the classroom.

1.2 Background to the problem

The Integrated Secondary School Curriculum or Kurikulum Bersepadu Sekolah Menengah (KBSM) was planned in accordance with the National Education Philosophy. The main goal of KBSM was based on the integrated self-development with orientation towards society or nation (Mak Soon Sang, 2003). Four language skills namely listening, speaking, reading and writing are incorporated in the English syllabus proficiency in order to meet their needs to use English in everyday life, for knowledge acquisition, and for future workplace needs (Kementerian Pendidikan Malaysia, 2000).

My personal experience as a learner has shown me that moderate and judicious use of the mother tongue can aid and facilitate the learning and teaching of the target language, a view shared by many colleagues of mine. However the value of using the mother tongue is a neglected topic in the TESL methodology literature. This omission, together with the widely advocated principle that the native language should not be used in the second language classroom, makes most teachers, experienced or not, feels uneasy about using L1 or permitting its use in the classroom, even when there is a need to do so. How do students and teachers look at this issue? Schweers (1999) conducted a study with EFL students and their teachers in a Spanish context to investigate their attitudes toward using L1 and in the L2 classroom. His result indicates that the majority of students and teachers agreed that Spanish should be used in the EFL classroom (Schweers 1999). Inspired by his research and driven by my own interest, the researcher decided to carry out a similar study on the use of the native language (Malay) in the Malaysian context. However, differences exist between Schweer's study and mine.

1.3. Statement of the problem

Many rural school students have difficulty in understanding English, and they have often found it difficult to read English books on their own (Ratnawati and Ismail, 2003). Students' lack of proficiency in English deprives them of the opportunities open to those who are able to use the language well. Recently, the teaching and learning of English has been discussed widely in Malaysia. This is because the low level of English proficiency among students hinders them from acquiring knowledge globally. Student's L1 are being use in the ESL classroom especially in the rural area to help them understand English better and find out if it is an effective teaching and learning tool.

Because of the students' difficulty in understanding the language, teachers need to assist them thoroughly in the learning process. With the using of the L1, this will gain their interest to stay focus in the class and not being de-motivated in learning the target language. The prohibition of the native language would maximize the effectiveness of learning the target language will be a question that we need to find out.

1.4. Purposes of the study

  1. The purpose of the study is to determine whether the L1 (Malay language) are use frequently in the rural ESL classroom.
  2. The important of this study is to find out whether L1 works as an effective teaching and learning instrument.

1.5. Research questions

Research questions for this study are;

  1. How frequent the Malay language was used in the Malaysian English classroom and for what purposes?
  2. Can prohibition of L1 (Malay language) maximize the interest of using English in the classroom?
  3. What are the perception of the students and the teachers towards using Malay in the English classroom?

1.6. Theoretical

For this study, the researcher referred to the theory of SLA that interrelated set of hypothesis or claims about how people become proficient in a second language. In a summary of research findings on SLA, Lightbown (1985: 176-180) made the following claims:

  1. Adults and adolescents can “acquire” a second language.
  2. The learner creates a systematic inter-language that is often characterized by the same language as the first language, as well as others that appear to be based on the learner's own native language.
  3. There are predictable sequences in acquisition so that certain structures have to be acquired before others can be integrated.
  4. Practice does not make perfect.
  5. Knowing language rule does not mean one will be able to use it in communicative interaction.
  6. Isolated explicit error correction is usually effective in changing language behavior.
  7. For most adult learners, acquisition stop-“fossilizes”-before the learner has achieved native-like mastery of the target language.
  8. One cannot achieve native-like or non native-like command of a second language in one hour a day.
  9. The learner's task is enormous because language is enormously complex.
  10. A learner's ability to understand language in a meaningful context exceeds his or her ability to comprehend de-contextualized language and to produce language of comparable complexity and accuracy.

The hypothesis will be the first tool for the measurement of how the students in the rural ESL classroom comprehend with target language. Learning is a long life process so the students need a proper guide to lead them in gaining the language proficiency. There are some modifications that need to be made in using these hypotheses so it will be suit to the learners need in the rural area. There are some mistakes that made by the learners that due to interference from their first language and the learner's errors should be corrected as soon as they are made in order to prevent the formation of bad habits.

The acquisition-learning hypothesis

Stephen Krashen (1977) claimed that adult second language learners have two means for internalizing the target language. The first is “acquisition”, a subconscious and intuitive process of constructing the system of a language. The second means is a conscious “learning” process in which learners attend to form, figure out rules, and are generally aware of their own process. According to Krashen, “fluency in second language performance is due to what we have acquired, not what we have learned” (1981a:99). Adults should, therefore, do as much acquiring as possible in order to achieve communicative fluency; otherwise, they will get bogged of language and to watching their own progress. For Krashen (1982), our conscious learning processes and our subconscious process mutually exclusive: learning cannot become acquisition. This claim of no interface between acquisition and learning is used to strengthen the argument for recommending large doses of acquisition activity in the classroom, with only a very minor role assigned to learning.

The input hypothesis

Krashen's claims that an important “condition for language acquisition to occur is that the acquirer understand (via hearing or reading input language that contains structure a bit beyond his or her current level of competence…..if an acquirer is at stage or level i , the input he or she understands should contain i +1” (Krashen1981:100).

In other words, the language that learners are exposed to should be just far enough beyond their current competence that they can understand most of it but still challenged to make progress. The corollary to this is that input should neither be so far beyond their reach that they are overwhelmed (this might be, say, i + 2) nor so close to their current stage that they are not challenged at all (i + 0).

Important parts of the Input Hypothesis are recommendation that speaking not be though directly or very early in the language classroom. Speech will be emerging once the acquirer has built up enough comprehensible input ( i + 1). Success in a foreign language can be attributed to input alone. Such a theory ascribes little credit to learners and their own active engagement in the process. Moreover, it is important to distinguish between input and intake. Intake is what you take with you over a period of time and can later remember. Krashen (1983) did suggest that input gets converted to knowledge through a learner's current internalized rule system and the new input.

The application of these theories will help the study in measuring how effective the use of L1 in the ESL classroom based on the prior knowledge of the participants and in what way the theories will help the researches defines the result of the studies.

Motivation Theory

Various definitions of motivation have been proposed over decades of research and three different perspectives emerge:

  1. From a behaviourist perspective, motivation was seen in matter of fact terms. It is quite simply the anticipation or reward. Driven to acquire positive reinforcement, and driven by previous reinforcement, and driven by previous experiences of reward for behaviour, we act accordingly to achieve further reinforcement. In this view, our acts are likely to be at the mercy of external forces.
  2. In cognitive terms, motivation places much more emphasis on the individual's decisions. Ausubel (1968:368-379), for example, identified six needs undergirding the construct of motivation:

a. The need for exploration, for seeing the other side of the mountain, for probing the unknown;

b. The need for manipulation, for operating- to use Skinner's term- on the environment and causing change;

c. The need for activity, for movement and exercise, both physical and mental;

d. The need for stimulation, the need to be stimulated by the environment, by the other people, or by ideas, thoughts, and feelings;

e. The need for knowledge, the need to process and internalize the result of exploration, manipulation, activity, and stimulation, to resolve contradictions, to quest for solutions to problems and for self consistent systems of knowledge;

f. Finally, the need for ego enhancement, for the self to be known and to be accepted and approved by others.

3) A constructivist view of motivation places even further emphasis on social context as well as individual person choices (Williams& Burden 1997:120). Each person is motivated differently, and will therefore act on his or her environment in ways that are unique.

Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation

Edward Deci (1975:23) defined intrinsic motivation:

“Intrinsically motivated activities are ones for which there is no apparent reward except the activity itself. People seem to engage in the activities for their own sake and not because they lead to an extrinsic reward…….intrinsically motivated behaviours are aimed at bringing about certain internally rewarding consequences, namely, feelings of competence and self determination”.

Extrinsically motivated behaviours, on the other hand, are carried out in anticipation of a reward from outside and beyond the self. Behaviours initiated solely to avoid punishment are also extrinsically motivated, even though numerous intrinsic benefits can ultimately accrue to those who instead, view punishment avoidance as a challenge that can build their sense of competence and self determination. The intrinsic and extrinsic continuum in motivation is applicable to foreign language classrooms and around the world. Regardless of the cultural beliefs and attitudes of learners and teachers, intrinsic and extrinsic factors can be easily identified (Dornyei and Csizer 1998).

During the classroom observations, the researcher will identify whether the teacher use this kind of method. If the students communicate with their L1, should the teacher give a punishment or give them the motivation to communicate with L1 as long it will help the students to understand the whole lesson.

1.7. Significance of the study

It is hope that the study will:

  1. Help all the teachers in selecting the best method in teaching the ESL classroom especially in the rural area.
  2. Determine the appropriateness of using the Malay in the ESL classroom.
  3. Enable the teacher to realize the important of using the L1 in the ESL classroom at the rural area.
  4. Help the students to gain their interest in learning the target language by giving them the opportunity to use their L1 while learning ESL.

1.8. Limitation of the study

This study was undertaken with the following limitations;

  1. The small sample clearly does not represent the whole population of students in SMK in Felda Gedangsa. The sample taken is 40 students from one class in Felda Gedangsa.
  2. The reliability and validity of the survey instruments may be questioned. The questionnaire is not based on any existing survey instrument, which had been tested and/ or certified in terms of reliability and validity. The questionnaire is developed specifically for this study.
  3. The time constrain will limit the quality of the study. SMK Felda Gedangsa is situated in Ulu Selangor district and about 30KM from UPSI. It will take a long time in doing this study.
  4. The student's level of proficiency is at the lower level and they will need help in understanding the questionnaires.

1.9. Summary

Understanding of English is crucial for every student in the ESL classroom. Without a proper guide from the teacher, they will lose their motivation in learning. Teacher need to be ready with a proper methods and teaching skills and should not ignore the use of L1 in the classroom. With the lacking of vocabulary and understanding towards certain aspects in the learning process, surely the use of L1 in the classroom should be considered to guide the students.


2.1. Introduction

This paper provides a review of the literature on students L1 are being used in the ESL classroom especially in the rural area and find out if it is an effective teaching and learning tool. There are several studies which are significance to the focus of this study. The summaries of previous work related to the hypothesis of the study are listed below.

Long (1985, 1996), adapted the input Hypothesis to include interaction. His modified Input Hypothesis (1996) focuses on negotiation of meaning that occurs when communication breaks down. It proposes that oral input that is simplified through interactional modification is more successful than non-interactionally modified input in promoting learner comprehension, which in turn facilitates language acquisition. This hypothesis claims that the modified output produced by learners who are interacting in order to negotiate meaning can also aid acquisition. In this view, which gives importance to input that has been simplified through interaction, there is a possible role for the use of the learner's L1 in the interactive input. Modified must give the learner information related to the linguistic form that were problematic and the use of the L1 is a potential source of this critical information (Gillis, 2007).

2.2. Close studies on the Using of L1 in the ESL Classroom

Research on the usage of the L1 in the ESL classroom is a vital has demonstrated that L1 are not only effective but necessary for adult ESL students with limited L1 literacy or schooling and that use of students' linguistic resources can be beneficial at all levels of ESL (Auerbach 1993).

Auerbach (1993), performed a research on the topic of “Do you believe that ESL students should be allowed to use their L1 in the ESL classroom”? Only 20% of the respondents gave an unqualified yes to the question; 30% gave an unqualified no, (with comments such as, "It's a school policy" and "No... but it's hard"); the remaining 50% said sometimes (with comments such as "Usually not, but if I have tried several times to explain something in English and a student still doesn't understand, then I allow another student who speaks the same language to explain in that language"; "They're going to do it anyway"; "As a last resort"). The essence of these comments is captured by the following response "In general ESL students should be encouraged to use English as much as possible, but in reality this doesn't always work." Thus, despite the fact that 80% of the teachers allowed the use of the L1 at times, the English only axiom is so strong that they didn't trust their own practice.

On the flip side, when the native language is used, practitioners, researchers, and learners consistently report positive results. Rivera (1990) outlines various models for incorporating the L1 into instruction, including initial literacy in the L1 (with or without simultaneous but separate ESL classes) and bilingual instruction (where both languages are utilized within one class). The first benefit of such programs at the beginning levels is that they attract previously un-served students--students who had been unable to participate in ESL classes because of limited L1 literacy and schooling.

Further, contrary to the claim that use of the L1 will slow the transition to and impede the development of thinking in English, numerous accounts suggest that it may actually facilitate this process. Shamash (1990), for example, describes an approach to teaching ESL used at the Invergarry Learning Center near Vancouver which might be considered heretical by some: Students start by writing about their lives in their L1 or a mixture of their L1 and English; this text is then translated into English with the help of bilingual tutors or learners and, as such, provides "a natural bridge for overcoming problems of vocabulary, sentence structure and language confidence".

At a certain point in the learning process, according to Shamash, the learner is willing to experiment and take risks with English. Thus, starting with the L1 provides a sense of security and validates the learners' lived experiences, allowing them to express themselves "while at the same time providing meaningful written material to work with". This research had shows us that the usage of L1 in the ESL classroom is sometimes considered as vital because of the students level of proficiency.

Tang (2002), based on her studies, “Using the mother tongue in the Chinese EFL classroom” bear many similarities to Schweer's (1999) study in a Spanish context. Both studies indicate that the mother tongue was used by the majority of teachers investigated, and both students and teachers responded positively toward its use. Minor discrepancies exist concerning the occasions when the L1 should be used. Some of these differences can be accounted for by the participants' different levels of L2 language proficiency. The teachers participating in this study indicated that the translation of some words, complex ideas, or even whole passages is a good way to learn a foreign language. Her observation of the three classes suggests that without translation, learners would be likely to make unguided and often incorrect translations.

This study also reveals that in the EFL classes observed Chinese plays only a supportive and facilitating role. The chief medium of communication in the class is still English. As with any other classroom technique, the use of the mother tongue is only a means to the end of improving foreign language proficiency. She agreed with the majority of student participants (about 63 percent combined) that no more than 10 percent of class time should be spent using Chinese. In her experience, this percentage decreases as the students' English proficiency increases. Of course, a translation course would be an exception.

Unlike Schweer's student participants, the students in the present study are highly motivated to learn English. As English majors in the university, their English language proficiency is regarded as a symbol of their identity and a route to future academic and employment opportunities. Few of them feel that English is imposed on them or regard the use of English as a threat to their identity. Instead, they generally prefer greater or exclusive use of English in the classroom. In their view, Chinese should be used only when necessary to help them learn English better. The research seems to show that limited and judicious use of the mother tongue in the English classroom does not reduce students' exposure to English, but rather can assist in the teaching and learning processes (Tang, 2002).

Strohmeyer and McGrail (1988) found that allowing for the exploration of ideas in the L1 served to enhance students' ESL writing. When students were given the choice of writing first in Spanish, they went on to write pieces in English that were considerably more developed than their usual ESL writing. These findings from practice are supported by Garcia's (1991) more formal research on effective instructional practices which found that (a) academically successful students made the transition from Spanish to English without any pressure from teachers; and (b) they were able to progress systematically from writing in the native language in initial literacy to writing in English later.

A recent study by Osburne and Harss-Covaleski (1991) suggested that the widely frowned upon practice of writing first in the L1 and then translating into the L2 is not harmful to the quality of the written product. They cite the conventional wisdom that students should be discouraged from translating as this will "cause them to make more errors, result in rhetorically inappropriate texts, and distract them from thinking in English--and that all these factors would negatively affect the quality of their writing". To investigate the validity of this claim, they compared ESL compositions written directly in English with others written first in the L1 and then translated into English; their results indicated no significant difference in the quality or quantity of the written products. They conclude, "It seems then that there is no need for teachers to become overly anxious if students choose to employ translation as a composing strategy at times". Friedlander (1990) cited numerous other studies reporting the beneficial effects of using the L1 for L2 composing; his own study provides further support for L1 use in planning ESL writing when knowledge of the topic has been acquired in the L1.

Mirzaei & Vaezi (2007), had been conducted the study of the effect of using translation from L1 to L2 as a teaching technique on the improvement of EFL Learners' Linguistic Accuracy- Focus on form. Based on the results obtained from the statistical analyses in the study, it was discovered that the idea of the effectiveness of using translation from L1 to L2 as a teaching technique to improve a group of Iranian EFL learners' linguistic accuracy was supported. Therefore, it can be concluded that translating form L1 to L2, using specific structures, can enhance learners' linguistic accuracy within the scope of those structures. It also manifests that learners' mother tongue is not a useless element in second or foreign language learning. In other words, mother tongue, if used purposefully and systematically, can have a constructive role in teaching other languages. In effect, the purpose of the present study was to join the three vertices of the triangle i.e., first language, translation, and focus on form.

Moreover, it can be claimed that translating sentences form L1 to L2, if selected purposefully, can push learners to use specific structures accurately when producing utterances in the second language. This mental practice in transforming an idea from mother language to the second language helps the learner tackle the psycho-linguistic challenge they have to face in producing second language in real life situations. Nevertheless, when utilizing this teaching technique, the learners should be bewared about the structural differences existing between languages which may cause negative interference from their L1. In other words, learners should be warned that there is not always a structural correspondence between their first language and the language they are learning. To make it short, translation from L1 to L2 is a kind of practice which makes the learners use specific L2 structures accurately in order to express L1 ideas. This transformation—mental translation from L1 to L2—is a natural and sometimes inevitable process which is mostly experienced by the learners of lower levels. Consequently, as discussed above, the technique used in this study is a means through which learners can practice producing L2 grammatically correct sentences which enables them to perform accurately in communicative situations (Mirzaei & Vaezi, 2007).

Translation from L1 to L2 was not a strange process; nonetheless, it might not have been dealt with through systematic and research-based studies yet. Although the word 'translation' and even 'mother tongue' has been abominated by many so-called innovatory-oriented teachers, this study demonstrated that there are judicious ways in which language teachers can use mother tongue, in general, and translation from L1 to L2, in particular, in their instruction with the purpose of improving learners' proficiency. In addition, mother tongue is truly a very rich source of linguistic knowledge with which any L2 learner is already equipped, and it does not seem reasonable to deprive our learners from using this recourse at the expense of exercising an English-only atmosphere in our classrooms.

Therefore, it can be suggested that teachers be familiarized with advantages of using learners' mother tongue in EFL/ESL classrooms and they should be reasonably given enough leeway to use this resource constructively. In particular, language teachers can use the technique presented in this study, i.e. using translation from L1 to L2, as a communicative task to promote their learners' linguistic accuracy. Therefore, it seems reasonable to allocate some time to the training of teachers in this regard (Mirzaei & Vaezi, 2007).

Schweers (1999) had done a research on the attitudes toward the use of Spanish in the English classroom among the students and the teachers in Puerto Rican. A high percentage (88.7%) of the student participants in this study felt that Spanish should be used in their English classes. All of the teachers reported using Spanish to some degree. Approximately 99 percent of the students responded that they like their teachers to use only English in the classroom. Very noticeable is the 86 percent of students who would like Spanish used to explain difficult concepts. Only 22 percent of teachers saw this as an appropriate use. Students also responded notably higher than teachers on the following uses for Spanish: to help students feel more comfortable and confident, to check comprehension, and to define new vocabulary items. Neither students nor teachers saw a use for the L1 in testing. A notable percentage of students would like Spanish to be used in English class either between 10 and 39 percent of the time. A sizeable number of students like the use of Spanish because it helps them when they feel lost. About 87 percent of students feel Spanish facilitates their learning of English between “a little” and “a lot,” and about 57 percent think it helps from “fairly much” to “a lot.”

These results showed that in English classes in a Puerto Rican university, Spanish should be used to some degree. Students feel there are clear cases where Spanish will facilitate their comprehension of what is happening in class. A majority also agree that the use of Spanish helps them to learn English. Studying students' reactions to the use of the L1 in English classes, Terence Doyle (1997), in his presentation at TESOL '97, reported that students in a study he conducted claimed that the L1 was used approximately 90 percent of the time in their classes. Some 65 percent of these students preferred the use of the L1 in their classes sometimes or often. While the first figure is comparable to the one he found in his study, the second is higher than the percentage in his study.

Romstedt (2000) had conducted a research of the effects of L1 Pre-writing discussion on ESL writing. The subjects of the study were thirty five graduate and undergraduate students, both male and female representing six native languages at two different levels of intensive English instruction. The general conclusion supported by these studies is that L1 is use in certain context can have a positive impact on some aspect of L2 writing. Each of these found that when L1 was used in some type of pre-writing activity, whether for purpose of instruction, planning, activation or prior knowledge, or translating, learners generally wrote better compositions. In all cases, even when no improvement in writing was documented, there was a positive attitude towards the using L1 class among the subjects of these studies. A statistical analysis of data in the current study revealed that the use of L1 in pre-writing activities did not have a significant effect on L2 writing in any of the measurement examined.

Friedlander (1990) indicated that allowing students to use their L1 to access and explore cognitive resources such as personal ethics, values, ideas and opinion that had been formed in L1 provides a deeper well from which students may draw the background information and details necessary to support their writing.

The previous research that had been done give a glimpse of idea on how to conduct the study with a proper method and strategy. It is still relevance because until now, the topics of the L1 usage are widely discussed among the teachers in all around the world. With this present study, it is hope that it will contribute the idea and the real situation to the future researchers in continuing in finding the truth about the usage of the L1 in the ESL classroom.

Hopefully, this study will give a framework on how to analyse the literature review in the future studies. The literature from the previous research will help in adding some aspect that they have missed and as continuous work in order to make it better and reliable.

2.3. Summary

From the previous studies that have been presented, the researcher concludes that the use of L1 in the ESL classroom is significance in helping the students to understand the target language better. Thus, teacher needs to take a consideration in using the L1 in the classroom and find out whether it is a suitable tool for the ESL learners.



3.1. Introduction

This chapter was focused on the method that used in carrying out this experimental study. The objective of this study is to investigate and reveal the current situation of the usage of L1 in the rural ESL classroom. Besides, the important of this study is to find out whether L1 works as effective teaching and learning tool.

3.2 Design and method

There are certain methods that have been used in gathering information and data in order to ensure that the study fulfils the criteria. The methods used are very vital as to guarantee the appropriate findings are gathered for the project paper. Furthermore, it will support the study done. The researcher gathered the data using the classroom observation, interviews and also questionnaires.

3.2.1 Research Design

In this research, the researcher employed both quantitative and qualitative to collect the data and analyze the data gathered. Quantitative research approach is "formal, objective, systematic processes in which numerical data are utilized to obtain information about the world" (Burns and Grove cited by Cormack 1991, p.140). Therefore, the quantitative approaches will help the researcher to obtain the appropriate information and data needed. Specifically, the researcher had adapted the survey design. The research includes the classroom observation process, interviews and questionnaires.

Apart from that, qualitative approach was applied in this study. Qualitative study is whereby a researcher will collect the data, analyze the data and interpret it by observing what people do and say. Chatman defines qualitative research by what it is not. "... unlike other methods, field work does not use tightly controlled variables or the creation of structured situations." (1984: 436). Meanwhile, Fidel (2002) lists characteristics of qualitative research as holistic, environmental or contextual, inductive or dialectical, pluralistic or relative, and its involvement of the object of the research. The researcher used qualitative approach because the researcher went to the school to collect the data from the students and has to analyze and interpret it the findings and that will discuss in the next chapter.

3.2.2 Participants

The participants of this research are the students from Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Gedangsa, Ulu Selangor and also the English teachers from the same school. There are three different English classes that I will observe while conducting this research. Then, I will hold interviews with the teachers from those three classes. Finally, 40 students from the three classes will be selected randomly to answer the questionnaire. Another set of different questionnaire will be given to 10 teachers from that school and they will be randomly picked by the researcher.

3.2.3 Table of the research design

Research Question

Data collection technique

Data analysis technique


a) Malay as the L1 use in the Malaysian English Classroom and how frequently it is use and for what purposes?

Classroom observations

Cumulative data

The input hypothesis by Krashen (1981)

b) Can prohibition of the L1 (Malay language) would maximize the interest of using English in the classroom?



The acquisition-learning hypothesis by Krashen (1977)

c) What are the attitudes of the students and the teachers towards using L1 in the English classroom?



Motivation Theory by Ausubel ( 1968)

3.3 Research Instrument

There are a number of instruments will be employed in gathering the data for this study. The instruments are:

3.3.1 Classroom Observation

For the first research question, is Malay language as the L1 used in the Malaysian English classroom and how frequently it is use and for what purposes? Classroom observation will be use as the data collection technique. The data will be collected by using the classroom observation table.



Occasion on which Malay was used

Giving Instructions

Occasion on which Malay was used

Explaining meaning of words

Occasion on which Malay was used

Explaining Complex Ideas

Occasion on which Malay was used

Explaining Complex Grammar Rules


Teacher 1


Teacher 2


Teacher 3




Three selected English language classes (of about 45 minutes in length) conducted by three teachers will be observe to find out how frequently and on what occasions Malay is use. To obtain more authentic classroom data, the teachers and students are not informed of the observation purpose beforehand. The data that the researcher will get, will be evaluate based on each occasions happen in the classroom according to the Input Hypothesis theories by Krashen (1981).

3.3.2 Interviews

For the second research question, cans prohibition of L1 (Malay language) maximize the interest of using English in the classroom? Interviews will be held as the data collection techniques. The three teachers whose classes were observed will be interviewed. The interviews will be conducted on a one to one basis or individual interviews.

Here are the questions that will be asked:

1) Why the teacher has to use Malay while teaching the English language in the classroom?

2) How the teachers view the common criticism that using Malay reduces the students' exposures to English?

3) Can prohibition of using L1 (Malay language) maximize the interest of using English in the classroom?

Questions was adapted from Tang (2002), “Using L1 in the ESL classroom.”

The interviews will be recorded and the researcher will transcribe the record and the result will be summarizing according the related theories that have been mention before.

3.3.3 Questionnaires

For the last research questions, what are the perceptions of the students and the teachers towards using Malay in the English classroom? The questionnaire will be use as the data collection technique and will be analyze using the percentage count. A questionnaire (appendix 1) will be distribute to 40 students who randomly pick by the researcher and another questionnaire (appendix 2) to 10 teachers to discover their attitudes toward using Malay in the English classroom.



This questionnaire aims to find out your attitude toward using Malay in the English classroom. Your answers will be used for research purposes only.

Thank you for your cooperation!

1. Should Malay be used in the classroom?

a) Yes b) No

2. Do you like your teacher to use Malay in the class?

a) not at all b) a little c) sometimes d) a lot

3. When do you think it is necessary to use Malay in the English classroom?

a. to help define some new vocabulary items (e.g., some abstract words)

b. to practice the use of some phrases and expressions (e.g., doing translation exercises)

c. to explain complex grammar points

d. to explain difficult concepts or ideas

e. to give instructions

f. to give suggestions on how to learn more effectively

g. other, please specify....................................................

4. if you think the use of Malay is necessary in the classroom, why?

a. It helps me to understand difficult concepts better.

b. It helps me to understand new vocabulary items better.

c. It makes me feel at ease, comfortable and less stressed.

d. I feel less lost.

e. other, please specify

5. Do you think the use of Malay in the classroom helps you learn this language?

a) no b) a little c) fairly much d) a lot

6. How often do you think Malay should be used in the classroom?

a) never b) very rarely c) sometimes d) fairly frequently

7. What percentage of the time do you think Malay should be used in the class? Choose one.

5% 10% 20% 30% 40%

50% 60% 70% 80% 90%



This questionnaire aims to find out your attitude toward using Malay in the

classroom. Your answers will be used for research purposes only. Thank you

for your cooperation!

1. Should Malay be used in the classroom?

a) Yes b) No

2. When do you think it is necessary to use Malay in the classroom?

a. to help define some new vocabulary items (e.g., some abstract words)

b. to practice the use of some phrases and expressions (e.g., doing translation


c. to explain complex grammar points

d. to explain difficult concepts or ideas

e. to give instructions

f. to give suggestions on how to learn more effectively

g. other, please specify

3. If you think the use of Malay is necessary in the classroom, why?

a. It aids comprehension greatly.

b. It is more effective.

c. It is less time-consuming.

d. other, please specify

Questionnaires were adapted from Tang (2002), “Using L1 in the ESL classroom”.

The questionnaires items focus on the subjects' opinion toward the use of L1, the various occasions when they think L1 can be use, and the perceive effectiveness of L1 in their ESL classroom. The result will be count using percentage and it will be discuss briefly using the theories that have been provided.

3.4. Ethical Considerations

In the name of ethics and anonymity the personal details of these research participants will be kept out of reach of the public and any other eyes that is not related in any kind to this study. To carry out to this study, we have to seek permission from the school administration too.

3.5. Limitations of this study

In this study, students' attendance is important. However, there were sometimes the student did not present. This is because; they are staying at home and not in the hostel. Another major setback of this study would be the time limitation where not much research could be carried out due to the lack of time the researcher had in conducting this case study.

3.6. Steps in executing the research (Proposal)




Week 1

Findings related research

Library and internet research

week 2

reading the research


Week 3

Discuss the research in the class


Week 4

Chose the final topic for the proposal


week 5

Construct the research questions


Week 6

Construct the questionnaire


Week 7

Writing the final proposal and submit


3.7. Summary

This chapter discloses the research method to be used in answering the research questions. Questionnaires were used to collect data and analysis of data was made using the percentage. The result of the findings will be the main focused and will be discussed in the next chapter.



4.1. Introduction

This topic covered the result and interpretations of the data gathered from the classroom observation, the interviews and from the questionnaires. The data is presented in the form of table and summary. The result is discussed based on the data presented.

4.2 Classroom Observation (Research question 1)

The data that had been collected were discussed in this chapter according to the classroom observation that had been done by the researcher. The information gathered by the researcher using the table below.



Occasion on which Malay was used

Giving Instructions

Occasion on which Malay was used

Explaining meaning of words

Occasion on which Malay was used

Explaining Complex Ideas

Occasion on which Malay was used

Explaining Complex Grammar Rules


Teacher 1






Teacher 2






Teacher 3












Table 1: Classroom Observation Table result adapted from Tang (2002), “Using L1 in ESL classroom”

Table 1 shows the number of times and occasions that Malay language was used in the three 40-minute reading classes. At the first place, the researcher did not inform the three teachers about the observations. The researcher only told that, the teacher need to handle the class like the daily routine classroom, this will prevent the teacher from using the 100 percent English because of the presence of the researcher. The students were quite good and give their full support to the classroom but of course, it was hard to control the noisiness of the students. The lesson was good and the three teachers need to use the Malay language to control the classroom. Based on the classroom observations, the researcher managed to complete the table of the classroom observation in order to gather all the information needed.

The table shows that Malay language was used by the three teachers in the tertiary-level English reading classes to give instructions and to explain the meaning of words, complex ideas, and complex grammar points. The greatest use of Malay language, 15 times, was to explain the complex ideas. Teacher 1 used Malay language to explain the words steep, scatter, fine, terrain, melt, and beneficiary after her English explanations, which proved to be quite effective judging from the students' responses. By using the code switching, students have a better understanding towards the ideas that the teacher want to convey. Sometimes, there was misunderstanding between the meaning of the phrases or words between the lessons. Teacher 2 used Malay language to explain the meanings of the words surge, high, and spell, spout and melt following her English explanations. Again, the teacher needs to imply this strategy in order to help the students to understand. In explaining the words that hard for the students to understand, he came up with an appropriate and culturally specific Malay language translation and the students seemed to understand it quickly. This can be a proved that the students in the rural area need a guide using the Malay language beside 100 percent English. Teachers cant left the students who seems to be understand but in the reality, they just don't ignore the lesson. These kinds of students that need help from the teacher so that they won't be left behind.

One could conclude that the teachers use Malay language only when they explain abstract or specific words. All the teachers attempted to explain the words, grammar points, and meanings of complex ideas in English, but resorted to Malay when they thought the students did not or could not understand their English explanations. Teacher 3 used Malay language most frequently to give instructions. In the first instances, the teacher used Malay only after first giving instructions in English, apparently to ensure that every student was clear about what was said. Because it was quite noisy outside the classroom at the time, the teacher used Malay instructions alone on four occasions to hold the students' attention and make them follow him. These three class observations indicate that Malay language is used on occasions when English explanations fail to work; hence the L1 plays a supportive and facilitating role in the classroom. The teacher cannot leave the L1 because all of the students are Malay and they live in the environment that used fully Malay language in the society, English language was only used when the students entered certain competition or representing the school. Besides, the students need proper instructions when they were asked to complete the exercise or when answering the questions from the teacher. Without that, certain students in the classroom felt lost and it killed their interest in learning the language.

It is a common informal observation that children are good imitators. The researcher conclude that the students are the good imitators because they need to imitate or repeating the words that the teacher has pronounce. In foreign language classroom, rote pattern drills often evoke surface imitation on in the words, repetition of sounds by the students without the vaguest understanding of what the sound might possibly mean. The teacher can guide the students with giving them the exact sound that they need to pronounce. The drills makes the students feel ease with the new words and explain to them about the meaning of the words that they have pronounced. Research also shown that children, when explicitly asked to repeat a sentence in a test situation, will often repeat the correct underlying deep structure with a change in the surface version (Brown 1970).

4.2.1 Summary

Based on the classroom observation table, the researcher can summarized that the use of Malay language was crucial in certain aspects in order to help the students to understand the English language. The frequent used of Malay language in the classroom showed that the L1 was an important key factor in determining the successful of the lesson on that day. It is better for the students to grab something from the lesson besides sat at the classroom for the whole period but zero in their knowledge.

4.3 Interviews (Research question 2)

After the classroom observations, the three teachers whose classes had been observed were interviewed about their occasional use of Malay language in the classroom and how they viewed the common criticism that using Malay language reduces the students' exposure to English.

Here are the questions:

4) Why the teacher has to use Malay language while teaching the English language in the classroom?

5) How the teachers view the common criticism that using Malay language reduces the students' exposures to English?

6) Can prohibition of using the L1 (Malay language) would maximize the interest of using English in the classroom?

Questions was adapted from Tang (2002), “Using L1 in the ESL classroom.”

Their answers are summarized from the first question until the last questions as follows:

Question 1- Why the teacher has to use Malay while teaching the English language in the classroom?

Answer from teacher 1

-“Well, I think that you know that all the students here are Malay; this is not their first language but their second language, sometimes if they don't really understand teacher have to use the Malay because if the teacher still use English but the students don't understand what is the point of teaching. For me, whatever language that you are using, as long as they get the point, as long the understand what are you trying to say, whether it is Malay language or sign language, it doesn't matter and you can carried in the classroom”.

Answer from teacher 2

- “Thank you for the question, actually it depends on the majority of the students in that school if the majority of the students is Malay, besides that, we also have other races like Chinese, but the majority of the students in the school is Malay, there are factors that help the students to understand the English language by using the Malay language. One of the factor is by using the Malay language it will help the students to understand some of the words that they unfamiliar with. If they did not understand the words that we are using, it is difficult for them to understand and to convey the language within what they are learning. Furthermore, by using Malay language as the translation for the English language, the students can comprehend better for those passages or certain comprehension. In some situation, the principal would encourage the teacher to use Malay language if they feel that the students will easily understand the English language rather than using the English without the translation or without using any Malay language as their guidance towards what they are learning especially in the English language”.

Answer from teacher 3

- “My point of view is of course the teacher can use 100% English in the classroom, but at the same time we have to consider some of the lower achiever or the weaker groups which they won't understand the language, the English language, therefore, as the teacher we need to help them to understand the language better that is by doing the translating some of the English words to Malay”.

Based on the first questions, the three teachers had agreed that the students L1 or Malay language should be used in the ESL classroom. This is because, it is their mother tongue and one could not prevent them in using the language. Of course the teacher can use 1oo percent English in the classroom, but the policy is, the teacher cannot leave the lower achievers behind and they need to move forward the other students. Students who are good in English will help the other students who can't understand the language. The teacher needs to guide them with the first language in order for the students to understand what the teacher want to convey are. It is no use for the teacher to use 100 percent of English if the students cannot understand. Besides, teacher 2 mentioned about the encouragement from the principal of the school itself that asked the teacher to use L1 if the students can get the benefit from it. There was a taboo that mentioned about the interference of the L1 will make the students confused, but in this rural situation, ignore the taboo because these students will need the help of L1 in learning the English language.

It was a nature situation in this school to use the L1 in the classroom. The teacher itself needs to use the L1 in order to make the students understand words or explaining complex grammar. It was proved working when the entire classrooms that have been observed by the researcher reacted actively and the students were stay focused on the lesson produced by the teacher. The use of Malay language had motivated the students to learn more and produce the spirit of cooperation's between the students. Therefore, as the teacher they need to help them to understand the language better and that is by doing the translating some of the English words to Malay. Next, we moved to the second questions.

Question 2- How the teachers view the common criticism that using Malay reduces the students exposures to English?

Answer from teacher 1

- “This one we can refer to the attitude of the students. Alright, if she or he is really interested in English, not only because of the teacher used Malay or reduces theirs interest, the can find, there are so many resources out there in English, not only in the classroom, and with the limitation of time, they can use varieties of source that they can used to enhance their English. Not only, you know, in the classroom, there are a lot, watching television, so many nowadays, magazines and it was not only focusing on the classroom sessions”.

Answer from teacher 2

- “In my point of view, this common criticism about using the Malay language actually it will depend on the students itself whether they can have the interest and because of that it will not reduce their interest in using English. This is what we are talking about, there is some of the students they may have a quality of mixing the code and switching the code language. They can have it in between whether it is in a Malay language and they sort of translate it into English or another way round. So about the view, in my point of view, I don't agree about that using Malay reduces the students' exposures to English”.

Answer from teacher 3

- “Well as for me, it isn't reduces, it is not reducing the exposures of learning English, it is not that, because on the teachers part, we are most focus on the students achievement and students understanding in a particular lesson in the classroom, therefore, it is not a matter of criticism of others regarding the usage of Malay in the classroom, as long as we can have them to facilitate and to enhance a better learning environment in the classroom, that's my answer”.

Based on the second questions, the three teachers had agreed that the criticism of using the L1 will reduces the interest of learning the English language was not true. This is because, they asked the researcher to look at the positive aspect that Malay language brings a benefit to the teacher and as well for the students. Thus, it should not be place as a problem that will reduce the learning anxiety of the students. These had been proved by the observation that had been done by the researcher. Truly, by using the Malay language, it helped the students in their learning and it motivated the students to speak the language although using the broken English. It is better than nothing. It is a task for the teacher itself to polish the student's English language and guide them to speak proper English. Teacher 3 had mentioned about it is not a matter of criticism of others regarding the usage of Malay language in the classroom, as long as the teacher can facilitate to enhance a better learning environment in the classroom.

Furthermore, in this school setting, students can adapt the meaning better with a teacher who speaks to them in their own language, thereby let them know that you respect and value their native language. This is especially important in the English class because of the politico-socio-cultural implications of teaching a language that is basically imposed on them. In addition, teacher's beliefs, language proficiency and target language confidence figure as some of the internal factors that motivate language choices for teachers. The joint impact of these influences may generate a distinctive use of the Malay language for each teacher, and each teaching setting. Internal factors here bring the meaning of social needs of the teacher to give their fullest in the teaching. The teacher need to consider the situation of their students, for those students who can't understand the English language without the help of their L1, teacher need to comprehend this situation by using the Malay language as a medium of the teaching in the classroom.

Question 3- Can prohibition of using L1 (Malay language) maximize the interest of using English in the classroom?

Answer from teacher 1

-“I think no, you know why, because when you simply thought in English sometimes they don't really understand what you are trying to say, definitely, they will stop and their interest in learning English will reduce because they don't know anything. When you explain using Malay, they will get the idea and they will get what are the idea that you are try to say, although they are using broken English, never mind as long as they know what are you trying to convey to them and then, I think when you keep on teaching in English while looking to them with their blinking eyes and looking to you, I think it has no point and better for you to use the Bahasa Melayu, that is the best way, that's all, thank you”.

Answer from teacher 2

-“About this prohibition, actually when we use total English language in th

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