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Home / Regular Issue / JSSH Vol. 32 (1) Mar. 2024 / JSSH-8898-2023


Bridging the Gap in the Second Language Classroom: A Guideline of L1 Utilisation

Noor Hayati Romli and Roselan Baki

Pertanika Journal of Social Science and Humanities, Volume 32, Issue 1, March 2024


Keywords: Bahasa Melayu, English, L1, L2, low-proficiency students, micro-functions of L1

Published on: 19 March 2024

Utilising first language (L1) in the second language (L2) classroom is a delicate matter amongst language educators and researchers. Despite its rarity in teacher training programs, manuals, or teaching conferences, establishing an L2-only classroom without using L1 can be challenging, particularly when the students and teachers share the same L1. This study explores the utilisation of specific micro-functions of L1 (Bahasa Melayu) in teaching L2 (English) and proposes a guideline for L2 teachers to systematically use L1 in the classroom. The study is guided by relevant aspects of the common underlying proficiency theory, sociocultural theory, affective filter hypothesis, mother tongue as a reference theory, and a combination of L1 frameworks by L2 scholars. Eight teachers from four districts in Pahang, Malaysia, recorded their English lessons and participated in post-lesson interviews. The analysis of the lessons and interviews revealed that most teachers used L1 to help them teach English, especially to low-proficiency students. The study identifies 26 useful micro-functions of L1 that are combined to form the guideline. This reference point is essential for L2 teachers to ensure the appropriate use of L1 in teaching L2.

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