English Teachers' Use of Learners' L1 (Arabic) in College Classrooms in Kuwait

  •  Sulaiman Alrabah    
  •  Shu-hua Wu    
  •  Abdullah Alotaibi    
  •  Hussein Aldaihani    


This study investigated English teachers' use of learners' L1 (Arabic) in college classrooms in Kuwait. The purpose of the study was three-fold: (1) to describe the functions for which L1 was employed by the teachers, (2) to explore the affective, sociolinguistic, and psycholinguistic factors that may have led teachers to use L1 in L2 teaching, and (3) to measure the teachers’ attitudes toward using L1 in teaching English as a foreign language (EFL). 60 EFL teachers at the Language Center in a college in Kuwait agreed to participate in the study. Data collection methods included recorded interviews and a grounded survey that was derived from the data of the interviews. Data analysis methods utilized Ethnograph 6.0, a software program, in order to search for common patterns of L1 use in the teachers’ interviews. Analysis of the survey utilized the Microsoft Excel Software Program to generate the means, percentages, and standard deviations for each of the survey items. The survey results indicated that the teachers used L1 in L2 classrooms as a teaching tool and for classroom management. The participating teachers also indicated that affective, sociolinguistic, and psycholinguistic factors have contributed to their L1 use in L2 teaching. However, the results also showed that the participating teachers exhibited mostly negative attitudes toward L1 use in L2 teaching. This contradiction between classroom practice and attitudes entailed implications for language teacher education programs to better equip EFL bound graduates with appropriate teaching strategies and classroom techniques to use L1 in appropriate ways in the EFL classroom.

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