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EFL Students’ Perception of the Use of L1 During the Language Learning Process

INTRODUCTION

The issue upon the use of students’ first language in English as a Foreign Language (EFL)

classrooms is still debatable up until today. It is of course without any doubt for the sake of

students’ success in mastering English. Many researchers and scholars have conducted various

studies on this issue, yet the dilemma of whether to use L1 or not still exist among English teachers

in EFL countries.

It cannot be denied that using L1 in EFL classrooms has contributed significant advantages

both for teachers and students. As Tang (2002) pointed out, the proper use of L1 is beneficial in

teaching the target language (as cited in Paker & Karaagaç, 2015). According to Aubach (1993),

the use of L1 can sometimes help students to reduce their anxiety (as cited in Shabir, 2016). This

statement is in line with research of D’Annulizios (1991), Garcia (1991), Hemmindinger (1987),

Shamash (1990), Strei (1992), and Strohmeyer and McGrail (1988) who added that using L1 in

learning the target language enables students to improve since it increases the positive environment

(as cited in Manara, 2007). In his study, Shabir (2016) also found out that English teachers consider

L1 is powerful when it comes to explaining complex grammar and giving instructions. However,

several opposing statements raised by other researchers regarding this issue. They emphasize that

it should be noted that the use of students’ L1 might hinder the students’ exposure to English. This

is because, in the EFL context, there is little possibility for students to actually use what they have

learned outside the classroom (Resmini, 2019). According to Ellis (1984), there is no important

role L1 carries in teaching English as a foreign language (as cited in Resmini, 2019). She added

that the excessive use of L1 may lead students not to grasp the important input of their L2 learning.
As a result, English is considered to be used in the classroom in order to maximize students’

exposure to the language.

It is still doubtful to actually decide which language facilitates the English learning process

in EFL classrooms the most. Most studies discussed more on students’ perception when they learn

the basic of English, for instance, General English. However, there is still little research on

students’ perception of the use of L1 when they learn to understand a concept using English, for

example, in content courses. Therefore, the writer finds it is necessary to fill the gap of this issue

based on the learning process happened in content courses.

Based on the background and problems mentioned above, this study aims to identify EFL

students’ perception towards the use of their first language during the language learning process

in the classrooms, specifically whether it is important or not to use L1 during the learning process

in content courses. Moreover, this study is also conducted to explore further the main factors that

influence the need for L1 use.

In order to achieve the aims of this study, below are the research questions raised:

1. According to the students, is it important to use L1 during the learning process?

2. What are the main factors that influence the need for using L1 during the learning process?

The results of this study are expected to be beneficial for English teachers to consider the

use of L1, more importantly, its proportion in EFL classrooms, for their students to master English.