An investigation into l2 teacher beliefs about l1 in china
An Investigation into L2 teacher beliefs about L1 in China. Song, Yanan. (2009). “An Investigation into L2 teacher beliefs about L1 in China”. Prospect,24:1, pp30-39Sections Summary of the article contents Evaluations / OpinionsAbstract Monolingual approach widely been the underlying principle to the study of L2. But this is inappropriate especially to those teacher & students that share the same L1. This study examines:- a) Teachers’ belief about the use of L1 in their L2 teaching b) Comparison between Ems & NEMs teacher attitudes towards their teaching practices c) Consistency between teachers’ beliefs about L1 with their teaching practices in the L2 classroom Study conducted in a tertiary institute in China. Methods : questionnaire, teacher talk & observation through teacher teaching.Introduction Howatt 1984; Richards & Rodgers 2001 – L2 education has been dominated as the best learned and taught through the language itself. L1 has regarded as a negative influence and L2 seen as the optimal medium for the classroom – try to avoid or minimize the use of L1 in the classroom. Researchers perspectives towards monolingual approach:- a) Phillipson 1992;Auerbach 1993 – discusses the implications of L2 dominance in supporting inequities in the social order & educational debates over the role of L1 in L2 education. b) Cummins (1980) – discusses the transfer of cognitive abilities across languages with a high level of L1 proficiency promoting the acquisition of L2
cognitive skills. c) Odlin (1989) – examines the cross-linguistic influence in different areas of language learning and implies both positive & negative transfer from L1 to L2. Study focused on :- a) Examined the L1 issue in L2 teaching from the perspective of teachers. b) How the teachers themselves perceive the monolingual approach in their teaching.Empirical studies on teacher L1 use Suggested that it is likely to be unavoidable in L2 classes, especially when teachers know the L1 of their students. Howatt 1984; Richards & Rodgers 2001 – only partially implemented in L2 teaching practice Reasonable to conclude that teachers can hardly avoid the use of L1 when they share it with their students, no matter in what contexts they teach. Cook (2001) identifies 3 main areas where L1 may be used positively in the classroom :- a) Teachers can use L1 to convey meaning b) Teachers can use L1 for classroom organization purposes c) Students can use L1 in their group work or pair work learning activities.The research context 2 forms of English teaching at tertiary level in China:- a) English Majors (EMs) b) Non-English Majors (NEMs) 2 different systems in teaching:- a) EMs - 4 years of study at tertiary institutes – students takes various courses in reading, writing, speaking, translation and so on.
b) NEMs – take once English course during their 4 year study – course offer in first 2 years and involves the basic skills of reading, writing, speaking, listening & translation. EMs outperform NEMs in their overall abilities in English. This study involved :- a) Tertiary institution in China ( 61 EFL teachers ) b) Teachers were non-native speakers of English and shared the same mother tongue, Chinese with their students. c) 21 taught EMs and 40 taught NEMs. Research questions:- a) What are the teachers’ beliefs about the use of L1 in their L2 teaching? b) Do teachers of EMs differ from teachers of NEMs in terms of their attitudes towards L1 in the classroom? c) Are teachers’ beliefs about L1 consistent with their teaching practices in the L2 classroom?Data collection Questionnaire:- a) To investigate the general attitudes of this particular group of teachers b) To select some research participants for further analysis. c) Comprised 30 L1-related statements on a five-point Likert Scale d) Analysed in SPSS 10, with mean, medium, minimum, maximum and standard deviation calculated. Observation a) Four teachers with different attitudes towards the use of L1 were selected and their L1 use in class was quantified.
b) Each of them was observed throughout a whole unit of teaching. c) Each unit contained 6 lessons and each lesson lasted about 45 minutes. Sampling - Teacher talk:- a) Teacher use of L1 in the classroom was quantified across the units within the lessons. b) To examines how frequently the 4 teachers used L1 and L2 in class. c) Teachers’ utterances across a whole unit of teaching were coded every 15 seconds and categorized according to a coding system adapted from Duff & Polio (1990). The quantification of L1 use was compared with teacher beliefs (questionnaire), to see to what extent the beliefs were consistent with teaching behaviours (observation &sampling).Results a) General Attitudes The teachers seemed to hold neutral attitudes towards using L1 in their L2 teaching. Teachers did not consider L1 to be a completely impeding factor, as the monolingual approach implies. Teachers’ beliefs about the use of L1 formed a contrast to the theories about L1 in language pedagogy. There was no significant difference between the b) Comparison of EM and NEM teacher teachers of EMs and teachers of NEMs. attitudes The level of students is probably not a factor that influences teacher attitudes – shared the L1 of their students, used L1 inevitably in their L2 teaching. Assumed that there must be other factors that played a decisive role in the attitudes towards the use of L1.
c) Distribution of L1 and L2 use in observed 4 teachers with contrasting beliefs were selected – lessons. attitudes towards the use of L1. 2 teachers selected from:- a) Pro-L1 b) Anti-L1 L2 was the major medium in all classrooms, but L1 still played a role in each classroom. Student L2 ability was shown to be a factor that influenced the amount of L1 the teachers used and the way they used it, but not whether they would use it or not. There was both consistency & inconsistency between the stated beliefs of the teachers & their teaching practices.Discussion Whole groups of teachers and individuals shows a slight tendency to disagree with the use of L1:- a) Did not see L1 as merely a negative influence in L2 learning & teaching. b) The monolingual approach, though powerful and influential in theory does not seem to function as the main principle in language teaching. There is no significant difference between the teachers of EMs and NEMs in terms of their attitudes towards the use of L1:- a) Use L1 when they worry about students understanding. b) L1 as a tool to facilitate L2 teaching and learning. The consistency & inconsistency between the stated beliefs of the teachers and their teaching practices provided more insights:- a) Consistency – does not necessarily mean a direct correlated relationship between stated beliefs & behaviours. b) Inconsistency – stated attitudes may not represent
the whole picture of teachers’ beliefs. c) Assume that sometimes the teacher may resort to L1 because of contextual constraints or other considerations.Conclusion Cannot reveal how teacher beliefs are presented in teaching practices and their use of l1 in classroom. Further/suggestion of studies:- a) Examining other aspects from a qualitative perspective. b) Explore the various ways to take advantage of L1 positively in the L2 classroom c) More qualitative & quantitative studies need to be undertaken to deepen understanding of the teacher beliefs about the use of L1 in language teaching. Pajares (1992:314) – belief cannot be directly observed or measured but must be inferred from what people say, intend and do.