Using the first language to improve Arabic-speaking students' speaking skills in English as a second language
Etbaigha, Intisar Alsagier
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For several decades since the advent of Communicative Language Teaching and the Direct Method, using the first language (L1) in second-language (L2) teaching has been out of favour. However, arguments for using the L1as a resource for L2 learning are becoming increasingly widespread (Cummins, 2014; Widdowson, 2001). This study aims to examine both the role the L1 plays in improving students' L2 speaking skills and their attitudes towards the use of their L1 in the process of learning a second language. A qualitative action research study was thus applied. The research was conducted in an English Language School over a period of six months. Observation, diaries, field-notes, social media, interviews, pre- and post-tests, as well as language biographies constituted the tools for data collection. Data were analysed through coding using critical discourse analysis, the Atlas TI software program and statistical analysis. The analysis was informed by Cummins' hypothesis of transfer and Vygotsky's activity theory. Findings of the study highlighted the effective role played by the L1 in learning the L2, and the effective approach that the L1 can constitute as a scaffold to improve students' L2 speaking skills, their interaction, engagement and participation. Another conclusion was that students possessed a positive attitude towards the use of their L1 in L2 teaching and learning.