Reviewing the Role of the Mother Tongue in Vocabulary Instruction in EFL/ESL Settings

Turkey, ID LLCE2015-102:

The use of the mother tongue is a controversial issue in the field of foreign language teaching. Losing its popularity after the introduction of communicative language teaching methods, the mother tongue nearly became a taboo both for the teachers and the students in EFL/ESL classrooms. However, its role in teaching a foreign language is now drawing a great deal of attention due to its potentially positive influence on psychological, cognitive and cultural aspects of language learning. Bolitho (1983) argues that the mother tongue is a means to create a humanistic atmosphere in EFL classes by permitting learners to express themselves more comfortably in some situations. Sometimes, the need to be understood by others can become a prerequisite to feel motivated for performing well in a foreign language, and the proper use of the mother tongue may provide learners with such a learning environment. This paper reviews several studies in the literature and discusses the role of the mother tongue with a focus on vocabulary teaching in EFL/ESL settings.


Key words: mother tongue, vocabulary, language learning, English



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