Rashad Nabi

Rashad Mahmood Nabi

Department: Graduate School of Education
Discipline: English
Research Centre/Unit: Curriculum Development and Assessment Unit

Project Summary

Research studies, especially recently, have mainly managed to elicit opinion statements from both teachers and students (Bhooth, Azman & Ismail, 2014; Bozorgian & Fallahpour, 2015; Forman, 2015; Lunin & Minaeva, 2015; Paker & Karaagac, 2015; Sa’d & Qadermazi, 2015) in regards to their perceptions of using the L1 (Arabic) to develop the L2 (English) without anything to substantiate the claim that L1 is a useful language teaching or learning tool.  According to Al Hariri (2015) the L1 can be used effectively in the EFL classroom to introduce vocabulary and grammar.  He also found that students would generally use the L1to inquire about anything they did not comprehend in the classroom.  Minimal research has been carried out, particularly to investigate the actual effectiveness of using the L1 in the EFL classroom with evidence to substantiate or refute the claims that the L1 can be used “...as a facilitative tool for achieving a wide range of purposes.” (Bozorgian & Fallahpour, 2015: p78-79), for learning or to use a pedagogical strategy (Bhooth, Azman & Ismail, 2014) which “...improves all four major language skills: reading, listening, speaking and indirectly writing.”  (Lunin & Minaeva, 2015: p274).  It has also been claimed that the L1 can be used as “...a leg-up (a supportive tool) on the developmental ladder.” (Hadadi, Abbasi & Goodarzi, 2014: p617).    

Over the years and also more recently, researchers have concluded and recommended the following:  “...L1 can be used and actually should be used as an aid by the teachers to convey meaning, manage the classroom, make a friendly environment, reduce the students’ anxiety, facilitate communication and elaborate on the course objectives...”(Bozorgian & Fallahpour , 2015: p79).  Mart (2013) concluded in his research that the use of L1 in the ESL classroom cannot be avoided. 

This view is consistent with previous studies which highlighted that the L1 can also be used for interpersonal purposes (Auerbach, 1993; Anton & Dicamilla, 1999; Ford, 2009; Lin, 2013; Rukh, 2015).  In Ford (2009), it was claimed that the L1 can prevent time being wasted on tortuous explanations and instructions.  More recently, it was claimed that the L1 can be used for “...translation, checking understanding, explaining grammar and managing the class.”  (Timucin & Baytar, 2015: p250).   Also, introducing vocabulary (Bhooth, Azman & Ismail, 2014), to provide feedback (Romli & Aziz, 2015), discussing course policies, attendance and other administrative information (Paker & Karaagac, 2015).

However, at the same time, the judicious, planned and limited use of the L1 has also been recommended by many research studies (Al Hariri, 2015; Alshammari, 2011; Elmetwally, 2012; McMillan & Rivers, 2011; S’ad & Qadermazi, 2015; Sipra, 2007; Spahiu, 2013)

The main arguments against the use of the L1 in EFL classrooms are that students will become dependent on the L1 from the initial language learning stage (Sa’d & Qadermazi, 2015) and not even attempt to understand meaning from context and explanation, or express what they want to say within their limited command of the target language (L2) because they know they will be understood by the teacher, especially if he shares the learner’s L1 (Yildirim, 2015).   Both of these skills are important and the learners will need to use them when communicating in a real situation.  Also in recent research studies, students have been reported to raise concerns regarding the teacher using the L1 and also allowing the students to use it in the EFL classroom.  In Bhooth, Azman & Ismail (2014: p82) students were reported to be of the opinion that the overuse of their L1 (Arabic)”... was harmful and might impede their English language development.”  In Al Hariri (2015), this opinion was reinforced by the majority of students (89%) who participated in a survey regarding the use of the L1 (Arabic) in the ESL classroom.  The students “...agreed that using the L1 does not help them improve their use of English and not only this but also said that using English as the only medium of interacting in the English classroom will make their mastery of English higher.”  (2015: p222).    Also, the research study by Sa’d & Qadermazi (2015) concluded that “...what seems to be a facilitative tool for language learning can, when applied inaccurately and inappropriately, become a counterproductive factor, leading to the learner’s over-reliance on it.”  (2015: p171).

Supervisory Team


Wider Research Interests

Supervision models and approaches.