Using the L1 in L2 teaching and learning: What role does identity play?

Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers


Research into the role of the first language (L1) in second language (L2) teaching and learning presents a complex picture. The case against use of the L1 includes its perceived role in inhibiting thinking in the L2. However, supposed benefits to use of the L1 in L2 learning and teaching include reducing learner anxiety and affirming the value of the learners’ L1 as their primary means of communication and cultural expression. This presentation will contribute to these debates by examining empirical evidence concerning use of the L1 in L2 learning amongst one group of Hong Kong L2 teachers and their students. A contribution of this presentation will be to consider how use of the L1 is shaped by issues of identity. Although identity has been identified as crucial in understanding second language teaching and learning, its role in the use of the L1 in L2 classrooms has not been fully explored. Consistent with the themes of this conference, a framework for investigating identity at the individual, community and societal levels will first be described and then used to examine use of the L1 (Cantonese) in a sample of English as a second language classrooms in Hong Kong. The results of this investigation, which are based upon in-depth interviews with teachers and students as well as classroom observations, will be discussed and the implications of identity for understanding the role of L1 in L2 teaching and learning considered. Suggestions for language teacher education and future research will also be outlined.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014


Trent, J. (2014, April). Using the L1 in L2 teaching and learning: What role does identity play?. Paper presented at the Asian Conference on Language Learning and the Asian Conference on Technology in the Classroom (ACLL/ACTC 2014): Individual, community, society: Connecting, learning and growing, Rihga Royal Hotel, Osaka, Kansai Region, Japan.


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