L1 to teach L2: complexities and contradictions

Fiona Copland, Georgios Neokleous

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article uncovers the complexities and contradictions inherent in making decisions about L1 use in the English language classroom. Through an analysis of data from classrooms in a Cypriot context and from interviews with Cypriot teachers, a number of functions for L1 use are identified, as are the teachers' rationales for using L1 for different functions. Teachers' decision making, it emerges, is often complex, based on either what they perceive as their students' affective needs or on their cognitive processes.What ismore, teachers often under-report or differently report their use of L1 in the classroom, contradicting beliefs by their actions. The construct of guilt is offered to explain these complexities and contradictions in the teachers' use of L1 in this study. We conclude by suggesting that teachers should be supported in finding local solutions to local teaching problems, so that they better understand and exploit the resources available to them.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)270-280
Number of pages11
JournalELT Journal
Issue number3
Early online date22 Sept 2010
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2011


  • L1 use
  • English language classroom
  • Cyprus


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