Learners' use of first language (Arabic) in pair work in an EFL class
AuthorStorch, N; Aldosari, A
Source TitleLanguage Teaching Research
PublisherSAGE PUBLICATIONS LTD
University of Melbourne Author/sStorch, Neomy
AffiliationLanguages and Linguistics
Document TypeJournal Article
CitationsStorch, N. & Aldosari, A. (2010). Learners' use of first language (Arabic) in pair work in an EFL class. LANGUAGE TEACHING RESEARCH, 14 (4), pp.355-375. https://doi.org/10.1177/1362168810375362.
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One of the concerns foreign language teachers may have about using small group (and pair) work is that students will use their shared first language (L1) instead of the target language. This study investigated the effect of learner proficiency pairing and task type on the amount of L1 used by learners of English as a foreign language (EFL) in pair work and the functions that the L1 served. Learners in this study ( n = 15 pairs) formed three proficiency groupings based on the teacher’s assessment of their second language proficiency: high—high (H—H), high—low (H—L), and low—low (L—L). All pairs completed three tasks — jigsaw, composition and text-editing — and their talk was audio-recorded. The transcribed pair talk was analysed for the quantity of L1 used (L1 words and L1 turns), and the functions the L1 served. The study found that overall, there was a modest use of L1 in pair work activity and that task type had a greater impact on the amount of L1 used than proficiency pairing. L1 was mainly used for the purpose of task management and to facilitate deliberations over vocabulary. When used for task management, L1 tended to reflect the kind of relationship the learners formed. When used for vocabulary deliberations, L1 was used not only to provide explanations to peers but also for private speech.
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