Psychological and Social Perspectives on Language

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The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Faculty of Education (2011-12, 1st Term)
Master of Arts in English Language Teaching
ENLT 6704
Psychological and Social Perspectives on Language
Assignment 2
A Critical View on Using L1 to Teach L2 in Local Hong Kong English Classrooms Student: Leung Chi Kit, Johnny
Student no.: 1009036200
Course Instructor: Prof. Barley Mak
Date of submission: 30th December, 2011

I declare that the assignment here submitted is original except for source material explicitly acknowledged, and that the same or related material has not been previously submitted for another course. I also acknowledge that I am aware of University policy and regulations on honesty in academic work, and of the disciplinary guidelines and procedures applicable to breaches of such policy and regulations, as contained in the website.

30 Dec 2011
Leung Chi Kit (Johnny) 1009036200
NameStudent ID
ENLT 6704 Psychological and Social Perspectives on Language __________________________________________________________ Course codeCourse title
A Critique of “L1 to teach L2: complexities and contradictions” and a Critical Review on Using L1 to teach L2 in Local Hong Kong English Classrooms Introduction
Among the most common English classroom instructions or even “orders” local English language teachers use in their classes will probably be “Remember to speak in English”, “Use English only”, “No Chinese” and so on. They are actually used in my and my colleagues’ English classrooms in my school. The main reasons for us having quite an extreme fear of not using our mother tongue in classrooms are basically the pressure from our principal who believes in teaching English as a Foreign Language (FL) while most FL teachers generally believe they should optimize the use of the target language (TL) in the classroom so learners can fully use the TL (Scott & De La Fuente, 2008). This is just as what mainstream SLA theory regards “native-speaker competence as the primary legitimate target in language learning” (Kirkpatrick, 2007:382) and language acquirers should not be consciously aware of the grammatical rules of the language, but rather develop a "feel" for correctness and initiate their utterances in a second language, “a subconscious and spontaneous development of the second language (L2) competence” (Scott & De La Fuente, 2008:101). Hence, teachers should not intervene in the L2 acquisition by using the first language (L1) but promote a rich TL environment. However, a lot of research shows that the allowance for teachers to use minimal amount of L1 can maximize students’ learning especially with lower lever learners (Mouhanna, 2009). Thus, as an in-service local English teacher, I believe there could be more than one way to help our students acquire or learn English better as they all come from different backgrounds with various abilities and distinctive personalities. In this critical review, I would like to narrow down the focus on whether English teachers can use L1 (Cantonese/Chinese) (changing words from English/Chinese into Chinese/English) in English language teaching (ELT). Accordingly, I have chosen “L1 to teach L2: complexities and contradictions” written by Fiona Copland and Georgios Neokleous to further examine the issue by summarizing its main points, expressing my views in relation to my own teaching and commenting on its relevance and implications to the Hong Kong situation. A brief summary of the journal article

Copland and Neoleous (2011) look into the use of L1 in Cyprus’s private language schools by collecting and analyzing data from four Cypriot bilingual English teachers’ (BETs) English classes to see when and why they use their L1 (Greek) to teach L2 (English) and their feelings after using L1. In particular, the classroom findings shows...
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