Using Translation in Foreign Language Classrooms: Examining its Effectiveness in Teaching Vocabulary to EFL Students
The use of mother tongue in foreign language classes has been a controversial issue in the history of language teaching. The purpose of this study is to examine the effectiveness of using L1 in teaching vocabulary to EFL students. To do so, 72 participants (36 boys and 36 girls) were divided into 6 classes in three levels based on their language proficiency, namely beginner, elementary and pre-intermediate. The students in each level were randomly assigned to control and experimental groups. In order to measure the effect of using L1 on their vocabulary learning, the control and experimental groups were taught for 20 sessions through the use of different methods. In the experimental groups, after teaching the new words through images and pictures, students’ L1 was used to tell the students the Persian meaning(s) of the words, while in the control group, the Persian meanings were not told to the students and only the target language and visuals were used for teaching the new words. The students’ performance in the posttest at the end of the class was compared using T-test. The finding indicated that the students in the experimental groups had a significantly better performance than that of the students in the control groups which substantiated the positive effect of using L1 in EFL classrooms.
Atkinson, D. (1987). The mother tongue in the classroom: A neglected resource? ELT Journal, 41(4), 241-247.
Azizifar, A., Faryadian, E., & Gowhary, H. (2014). The Effect of anxiety on Iranian EFL learners speaking skill. International Research Journal of Applied and Basic Sciences, 8(10), 1747-1754.
Bawcom, L. (2002). Overusing L1 in the classroom. Modern English Teacher, 11(1), 51-53.
Cianflone, E. (2009). L1 use in English courses at university level. ESP World, 8(22), 1-6.
Cook, G. (2007). Unmarked Improvement: Values, Facts, and First Languages. IATEFL Conference, Aberdeen, 18 – 20 April. Retrieved from: http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/iatefl2007/jasmina_day2.shtml.
Cook, G. (2010). Translation in Language Teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Cook, V. J. (2001). Using the first language in the classroom. Canadian Modern Language Review, 57(3), 184-206.
De Groot, A. M. B., & van Hall, J. G. (2005). The learning of foreign language vocabulary. In J. F. Kroll & A. M. B. de Groot (Eds.), Handbook of bilingualism: Psycholinguistic approaches (pp. 9–29). New York: Oxford.
Edge, J. (1986). ‘Acquisition disappears in adultery’: Interaction in the translation class. ELT Journal, 40(2), 121-124.
Fernandez-Guerra, A. (2014). The usefulness of translation in foreign language learning: Students’ Attitudes. International Journal of English Language & Translation Studies, 2(1), 153-170.
Gorusch, G. J. (1998). Yakudoku EFL instruction in two Japanese high school classrooms: An exploratory study". JALT Journal, 20(1), 6-32.
Harbord, J. (1992). The use of the mother tongue in the classroom. ELTJ, 46(4), 350-355.
Harwood, N. (2010). English language teaching materials: Theory and practice. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Hekmati, N., Ghahremani Ghajar, S., Navidinia, H. (2018). Movie-generated EFL writing: Discovering the act of writing through visual literacy practices. International Journal of Language Studies, 12(2), 51-64.
Heltai, P. (1989). Teaching vocabulary by oral translation. ELT Journal, 43(4), 288-293.
Hassanabadi, F. M., & Heidari, M. (2014). The effect of intersemiotic translation on vocabulary learning. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 98, 1165-1173.
Jakobson, R. (2000). On linguistic aspects of translation. In L. Venuti, (Ed.), The translation studies reader (pp. 113- 118), London and New York: Routledge.
Lado, R. (1964). Language teaching: A scientific approach. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Lee, T. (2013). Incorporating translation into the language classroom and its potential impacts upon L2 learners. In Tsagari, D., Floros, G. (Ed.), Translation in language teaching and assessment (pp. 3-18). Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
Littlewood, W., & Yu, B. (2009). First language and target language in the foreign language classroom. Lang. Teach., 44 (1), 64–77.
Malmkjær, K. (2004). Translation in undergraduate degree programs. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
Miles, R. (2004). Evaluating the use of L1 in the English language classroom. Unpublished Master’s thesis. University of Birmingham.
Navidinia, H. & Toushe, E. (2017). Teaching English as a foreign language to students with special needs through intersemiotic translation: An experience with deaf learners. Journal of Special Needs Education, 7, 45-57.
Pablo, I. M., Lengeling, M. M., Zenil, B. R., Crawford, T., & Goodwin, D. (2011). Students and teachers’ reasons for using the first language within the foreign language classroom (French and English) in Central Mexico. PROFILE, 13(2), 113-129.
Pym, A. (2016). Nineteenth-century discourses on translation in language teaching. Retrieved from: www.usuaris.tinet.cat/apym/online/translation/2016_19th_translation_teaching.pdf
Pym, A., Malmkjær, K., & Gutiérrez, M. (2013). Translation and language learning. Luxembourg: European Commission.
Spahiu, I. (2013). Using native language in ESL classroom. International Journal of English Language & Translation Studies, 1(2), 243.
Titford, C. (1983). Translation for advanced learners. ELT Journal, 37(1), 52-57.
Vaezi, S., & Mirzaei, M. (2007). The effect of using translation from L1 to L2 as a teaching technique on the improvement of EFL learners’ linguistic accuracy–focus on form. Humanising Language Teaching, 9(5), 79-121.
Wharton, C. (2007). Informed use of the mother tongue in the English language classroom. Retrieved from:
Zhang, S. (2012). Promoting noticing in EFL classroom. Theory and Practice in Language Studies, 2(3), 579-584.