The Great Debate: to L1 or not to L1
Have you ever tried banning L1 in your classroom?
I’ll be the first to admit it. Yes, I’ve tried, and often these efforts were fruitless… ok, not even often… 90% of the time. Sometimes with a very small group it can work, but as many of us teach in larger monolingual classrooms (One of the classic “Ten things I think I know” via Ken Wilson), the directive effort of only using L2 rarely works.
So… what’s the trick to getting them to speak more English?
I’m writing this post as last a teacher-friend wrote me for advice on the subject, saying that she was tired of having to plead yet again “‘English, please.” Been there before?
I started digging around the blogosphere, and found a nice post on one teacher’s success (Joe McVeigh) though his post explores “class chemistry” and ponders why only one of four classes ended up “speaking only English in class”.
Another post that immediately came to mind was Henrick Oprea‘s “L1: To use or not to use” which has not only a brilliant exploration on the subject, but a fine exchange in the comments (where I tried to play the devil’s advocate and finally ceded partially) ;-) My driving point was from a learner perspective (my own):
“when we let go of our native tongue and try to swim in a foreign language… that effort… that searching… it’s something I feel is missing in many classrooms”
So, again, how do we get there? Especially if… (from comments in same post)
“The classroom is no natural setting at all… no matter how hard we try to recreate an authentic environment in the classroom, it’ll never cease to be a classroom. Activities may be planned to simulate real life situations, but they’ll always be activities”
So, this is where YOU come in. We all have amazing experiences of failures and successes and I’d like you to share a story or an approach that helped motivate your students to speak more L2 in the classroom.
Gimme yer best!
…and I promise I’ll share mine after the
comments thread starts lookin’ pretty.