L1 Use in EFL Classes with English-only Policy: Insights from Triangulated Data

  • Seyyed Hatam Tamimi Sa’d
  • Zohre Qadermazi
Keywords: EFL Classes, EFL Learners, Interview, L1 use, Observation, Perceptions


This study examines the role of the use of the L1 in EFL classes from the perspective of EFL learners. The triangulated data were collected using class observations, focus group semi-structured interviews and the learners’ written reports of their perceptions and attitudes in a purposedesigned questionnaire. The participants consisted of sixty male Iranian
EFL learners who constituted three classes. The results indicated a strong tendency among the participants toward L1 and its positive effects on language learning; while only a minority of the learners favoured an Englishonly policy, the majority supported the judicious, limited and occasional use of the L1, particularly on the part of the teacher. The participants mentioned
the advantages as well as the disadvantages of the use/non-use of the L1. While the major advantage and the main purpose of L1 use was said to be the clarification and intelligibility of instructions, grammatical and lexical items, the main advantages of avoiding it were stated as being the improvement of speaking and listening skills, maximizing learners’ exposure
to English and their becoming accustomed to it. The study concludes that, overall and in line with the majority of the previous research studies, a judicious, occasional and limited use of the L1 is a better approach to take in EFL classes than to include or exclude it totally. In conclusion, a reexamination of the English-only policy and a reconsideration of the role of the L1 are recommended. Finally, the commonly held assumption that L1 is a hindrance and an impediment to the learners’ language learning is challenged.


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