The Use of Arabic (L1) in the EFL Classrooms: How Do Umm Al-Quwain Teachers and Students Perceive It?

Mohammed Hamid Al-Ta’ani


The role of students’ native language (L1) in the second language (L2) classrooms has been a debatable issue for a long time in the field of English Language teaching as a foreign language (EFL). The present study which took place in the United Arab Emirate (UAE), more specifically, at Umm Al-Quwain Educational Zone,(UAQ) aimed at investigating both students’ and teachers’ perceptions and attitudes towards the use of (L1) in the EFL classrooms. To achieve this, the researcher used both qualitative and quantitative research methods. Thus, it surveyed one hundred fifty (150) secondary students and fifty (50) teachers of English and observed three (3) EFL classes. The data were collected through two questionnaires and classroom observations. The classroom observations were intended to reflect the quantity of (L1) use in the (L2) classrooms. The data collected through the questionnaires were analyzed with the aid of frequency and percentage, those collected through the open-ended question of the questionnaires and the classroom observations were sorted and summarized.

The findings obtained from classroom observations indicated that the respondents support the well-planned use of Arabic (L1) in certain situations in the EFL classrooms. The questionnaire results revealed that (72%) of the students and (54%) of the teachers felt that Arabic (L1) should be used in their EFL classrooms. The findings also showed that (71% ) of the students and (56%) of the teachers thought that cultural, religious, traditional and political concepts and ideas should be taught by referring to the students’ native language (L1).What is more, almost all the respondents objected to using the (L1) excessively and untimely in (EFL ) classes. The quantitative data on the percentage of (L1) in EFL classes showed that most of the respondents preferred only 10 % use of mother tongue (L1) in a 50- minute class. No teachers and students answered higher than 20% and 40% respectively. In view of these findings, teachers as well as text writers and curricula planners and designers should take the learners’ native language (L1) as a teaching / learning tool.

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International Journal of Contemporary Education

ISSN 2575-3177 (Print)   ISSN 2575-3185 (Online)

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