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What strategies does school X use to support children to use L1 when learning L2/to develop or aid learning

The children who are defined as EAL learners are those whose first language is other than English who are living and attending school in England (Schneider & Davies-Tutt, 2014) . These children comprise a large number of students in UK primary schools at this point in time. Two commenters have said that young children learning L2 are one of the fastest growing segments of the global population (Kan & Kohnert, 2005, p. 380) .

The last decade has witnessed an increasing number of language minority children coming to the schools, as a result of migration from non-English speaking countries into the UK. This has raised interest in and concerns about the education of LMC/EAL children across the schools in the UK. One report states (citing 2009 Government figures) that at that point of time, 14.4% learners came to schools speaking English as a second language (Sargazi, & McClelland, 2010) . In a continuing paper, the same authors have given some good practices that can be employed by schools for aiding the EAL learners, which include using L1 to aid in learning L2 (Sargazi & McClelland, 2011) . The use of L1 for aiding L2 remains controversial to some extent (Druce, 2013) . However, despite the controversies and reservations regarding how far L1 can be used to aid in L2 learning, it is doubtless an area of interest, with considerable support for the hypothesis that L2 is aided to an extent by L1.

There are some important theories that reflect on the issue. An important theory in this context is the behaviourist approach or the ‘contrastive hypothesis’ (Fries, 1945) . As per this approach, it is assumed that processes of positive reinforcement, which guide and influence the learning of L1 also support the learning of L2. This is even more visible where both L1 and L2 are structurally similar. Then children can simply transfer their learning from L1 to L2.

In this way, use of L1 can help guide the learning of L2. The diverse classrooms, consequent of EAL learners from around the world create complex cultural linguistic circumstances, in which teachers need to re-evaluate language teaching practices as well as the curriculum so as to be responsive to the diverse populations (Conteh, 2006) . It is important to note that The Primary National Strategy (2006) emphasized on the need for creating appropriate educating standards in schools. The Strategy’s focus was on methods that would most effectively help them achieve instructional approaches, to meet the immediate needs of LMC children (DfES, 2006) . The Bullock Report has also suggested that their “bilingualism is a great importance to the children, and their families, and also to society as whole (DES, 1975) . Therefore, as part of the government response, it can be said that there is an active policy of respecting L1 and its ability to reinforce the learning of L2. In other words, it has now come to be well accepted that the pace of learning an additional language, and effective instruction or support for children to learn an additional language, will depend upon whether the child is has developed literacy in L1 (Nicholas & Lightbown, 2008) .

A study that conducted a qualitative inquiry in the north of England, sought to analyse current practice in UK primary schools (Wardman, 2012) . UK, despite its multicultural nature, is monolingual as far as language of instruction in schools is concerned. Therefore, primarily, it may be considered that L1 even when used for instructional purposes, its use must be transitional, and the focus should always be on assimilation of the child into the English language effectively and quickly (Wardman, 2012) . For that reason, in the UK, what is seen is educating bilinguals as opposed to bilingual education in a truly meaningful manner (Wardman, 2012) .

Another study found that in the UK primary schools, EAL students are encouraged to start learning and speaking English quickly. Learning English is seen as essential to the ability of EAL students to make friends with other students. In other words, it is seen as a strong social skill. At the same time, in order to facilitate learning and literacy, teachers at time did encourage students to write in L1 (Schneider & Davies-Tutt, 2014) . The study also found that L1 usage was associated with “making the students feel welcome and included, for example, “in the taking of the register, greetings and social events” (Schneider & Davies-Tutt, 2014, p. 7) .

At present, UK primary schools use the mainstreaming and transitional models for helping students transition from L1 to L2. Mainstreaming or immersion models place all new EAL arrivals in mainstream classes as well as providing extra English tuition in withdrawal groups (Schneider & Davies-Tutt, 2014) . Transitional model looks at L1 or any aid given by it as a transitional experience, which is temporary. At the same time in one study, several teachers took the view that students should only enter the mainstream classroom after attaining a suitable level of competence in English following intensive language training (Schneider & Davies-Tutt, 2014) .

If it is considered that there are some definite advantages of L1/L2 association, then there have to be strategies that help teachers design their classroom teaching in a manner that supports this learning. One writer says that studying bilingual language processing can help us understand how individuals improve their L2 skills, which is useful in helping teachers design better methods for teaching L2 (Traxler, 2011) . The author also says that available research on learning L2 evidences the availability of different theories. An important factor to consider here is that when hearing a word in L2, the recipient immediately relates it to its L1 equivalent. Basically teaching an L2 is different from teaching L1. One technique that can be used here is the Immersion technique. This technique focusses on bringing language study and use into closer contact with each other (Traxler, 2011) . As noted above, this technique finds great support in the UK primary schools.

Primary schools are best starting places for incorporating L1 to develop L2, because from a linguistic point of view, this is the time when the child is most receptive to learning new languages. Here it would be pertinent to mention the critical period theory, an important neurological theory, which focuses on the period during early post-natal life, which is the period in which the development and maturation of functional properties and the plasticity of the brain, depends on the experience and the environment of the child (Cioni & Sganndura, 2013) . Another relevant theoretical approach concerns the socio cultural theory or contextual perspectives. Vygotsky, for instance, emphasised on social and cultural experience for the development of the child. He said that the cognitive development of each child depended on the child’s immediate social world (Vygotsky, 1962) . This is also supported in an earlier work, which provides that cultural experiences are essential in a child’s upbringing (Bandura, 1971) . What is important to note here is that the tools essential to the cultural experience do include linguistic tools, which are important and do play an important role in the development of the child.

Kathy Hall and Kamil Ozerk comparatively analyse England in comparison with other countries, and their findings are pertinent here (Hall & Ozerk, 2008) . First, the authors point out that England’s official documentation on curriculum “endorses pluralism, diversity, tolerance and multiculturalism” (Hall & Ozerk, 2008, p. 7) . It is important that the study identifies that as compared to the other countries, England does not give more priority to English language, but equal status with Science and Math, whereas in the other countries studied, more priority is given to the national language, even over Math and Science (Hall & Ozerk, 2008, p. 10) . This can be a reason why the adoption of better and more flexible methodology with respect to L1 for learning L2 can be made in the UK as compared to other countries.

Among the strategies that are employed in primary schools in the UK, the following are notable. There is trained and qualified staff in schools. Resources are available that can be utilized by the school staff for the purpose of using L1 to aid L2 learning. Teachers actively avoid stigma associated with not knowing English and there is a positive strategy for learning (Wardman, 2012) . However, it is also seen that the staff that supports bilingual learning are not trained in bilingual education (Wardman, 2012, p. 10) . One strategy that can be employed by schools is “Read-alouds”. These can help in vocabulary, enunciation and diction. Plays and dramas are also interesting and useful when organized around a theme that aids L2 learning through L1 (D Barone & Xu, 2008) Tabors, 2008). Another method that can be employed is pairing EAL students with native speakers while ensuring that same L1 speakers are not paired together (Barone & Xu, 2008). There is a lot of literature concerning the incorporation of L1 into L2 learning. However, it is also seen that there is a paucity of literature involving primary schools. This is also the period in child’s life when linguistics is easily absorbed. Therefore, devising better teaching techniques and strategies for the primary schools in context of L1 and L2 interactions is imperative.



    1. Wardman, C. (2012). ELT Research Papers 12–04 Pulling the threads together: current theories and current practice affecting UK primary school children who have English as an Additional Language. Retrieved October 27, 2016, from teachingenglish.org.uk: https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/sites/teacheng/files/B387%20ELTRP%20Report %20-%20Wardman_v6.pdf Traxler, M. J. (2011). Introduction to Psycholinguistics: Understanding Language Science . New york: John Wiley and Sons.
    2. Schneider, D. C., & Davies-Tutt, D. (2014). School approaches to the education of EAL students Language development, social integration and achievement. Anglia Ruskin University. The Bell Foundation.
    3. S. H., & McClelland, B. (2010). Promoting educational achievement of language minority children in mainstream Merseyside primary schools. Retrieved from arabou.edu: https://www.arabou.edu.kw/files/Promoting%20educational%20achievement.pdf Sargazi, H., & McClelland, B. (2011). Educational, Linguistic and Cultural needs of Language Minorities in Merseyside Mainstream Primary Schools (UK): Determinants of Success for Bilingual Pupils in Mainstream Classrooms. The International Journal of Learning, 17(10).
    4. Conteh, J. (2006). Promoting learning for bilingual pupils 3-11: opening doors to success. London: Paul Chapman Publishing. DES. (1975). A language for life: The Bullock Report. HMSO.
    5. DfES. (2006). Primary National Strategy: Excellence and enjoyment: Learning and teaching for bilingual children in the primary years (Professional development materials). DfES.
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    7. Bandura, A. (1971). Social Learning Theory. General Learning Corporation. Hall, K., & Ozerk, K. (2008). PRIMARY CURRICULUM AND ASSESSMENT: ENGLAND AND OTHER COUNTRIES. University of Cambridge. Cambridge: University of Cambridge. D Barone, & Xu, S. (2008). Literacy instruction for English language learners Pre-K-2. New York: The Guilford Press.
    8. Kan, P., & Kohnert, K. (2005). Preschoolers learning Hmong and English: Lexical-semantic skills in L1 and L2. Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research, 48(2), 372-383. Nicholas, H., & Lightbown, P. (2008). Defining child second language acquisition, defining roles for L2 instruction. In J. Philp, R. Oliver, & R. Mackey, Second language acquisition and the younger learner (pp. 27-51). Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing.
    9. Fries, C. (1945). Teaching and learning English as a foreign language. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. Druce, P. M. (2013). ATTITUDES TO THE USE OF L1 AND TRANSLATION IN SECOND LANGUAGE TEACHING AND LEARNING. Journal of Second Language Teaching and Research, 2(1).

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