A literature review on using the first language in a second or foreign language classroom

The paper seeks to review on the use of a first language or a mother tongue (L1) in a

second or foreign language (L2) classroom. The report examines permissible frequencies,

practical purposes and influential factors of the L1 employment in the L2 classrooms. The

findings provide that (i) there are mixed results of L1 use among novice and experienced

teachers or low-level and high-level students and among different language teaching approaches

followed by (ii) three main categorized reasons facilitating the role of L1. The review further

suggests strong factors influencing the use of L1, namely task types, proficiency levels, teaching

experience, timetabling, pedagogical tools, learning strategies, teachers’ beliefs and learners’

perceptions. The review closes with conclusion and classroom implications.

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decisions. Indeed, there are two beneficial 
pedagogical strategies encouraging the 
production of target language presented by 
Carless (2008), namely language monitor and 
Since there have been contradictory 
perceptions and beliefs on the L1 use among 
teachers and students, there is a necessity of a 
clearer institutional policy on the inclusive use 
of L1. By doing this, teachers are seemingly 
able to measure their perceptions of L1 
inclusion compared with the institutional 
policy, to eliminate their ambiguity as well as 
to increase their efficacy. Furthermore, the 
emergent use of L1 occurring inevitably in a 
L2 classroom helps instructors, policy makers 
and language learners develop an awareness 
of natural occurrence of L1 in a classroom 
context (Moore, 2013). As a result, a method 
possibly optimizing the benefit of L1 and 
providing a framework of appropriate time of 
L1 use in the L2 classroom should be 
presented (Samar & Moradkhani, 2014). 
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