Teachers' and Students' Perceptions towards the Use of Arabic in Secondary Level English Language Classrooms
Hamze, Roussol Kassem
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The debate over whether or not students' first language should be used in English language classrooms has been controversial for a long time. Findings in the literature reveal two opposing views: On one end of the continuum are those who believe that L1 should not be used in L2 classrooms and call for its prohibition, and on the other end there are those who believe that L1 is useful for L2 learning and it should be employed in the English language classroom. However, a unified approach regarding the use of L1 is still absent thereby confusing teachers about the contexts in which L1 should and should not be used. It is this debate that aroused my interest in conducting this research. The purpose of the study was to find out teachers' and students' perceptions towards the use of Arabic (L1) in secondary level English language teaching and learning classrooms in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). In addition, this study set out to discover the similarities and differences in the ways teachers and students perceive the use of Arabic (L1) in English language teaching classrooms, and what are the purposes, if any, in which teachers use Arabic in English language classroom activities. Data were collected from teachers and students' using classroom observations, surveys, and teacher interviews. Findings revealed that the use of Arabic was not encouraged in the private schools in the United Arab Emirates. In addition, students and teachers revealed generally negative attitudes towards its use. However, they employed its use and recognized its usefulness at times and in certain contexts such as explaining difficult grammatical points or new vocabulary. They also employed its use for joking and discussions outside the classroom. Generally, the teachers used Arabic in English language classrooms in order to facilitate students' comprehension and clarify meaning that was difficult to convey using English.