Is it necessary for students to only speak English in class?

English in Clalssroom

Here's an apparently simple question: Should an English policy be implemented only in the English class room? Your gut reaction could be, yes, only English is the only way for students to learn English! There may, however, be some exceptions to this rule.

First, consider some of the arguments advanced in support of a classroom-only English-only policy:ย By speaking English, students learn to speak English.

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  • English in Classroom
    Should students only speak English in class?
    Allowing students to speak in other languages diverts their attention away from the task of learning English.
  • Students who do not only speak English do not think in English. Students can converse in English if you only speak English.
  • Immersion in a language is the only way to learn to speak it fluently.
  • A classroom with an English-only policy forces them to negotiate the learning process in English.
  • Students who speak a language other than English distract other English learners.
  • Only English is used in effective classroom management, which encourages learning and respect.
  • All of these are valid arguments in favour of an English-only policy in the ESL/EFL classroom. However, there are compelling reasons for students, particularly beginners, to be able to communicate in other languages. Here are some of the more compelling arguments made in favour of the constructive use of other languages in the classroom:
  • Allowing or allowing learners to explain grammar concepts in their L1 (native language) speeds up the learning process.
  • Students can fill in the gaps in class by communicating in another language, especially if the class is large.
  • Allowing some communication in the learners’ L1 creates a more relaxed environment conducive to learning.
  • When other languages are permitted, translating difficult vocabulary becomes much easier and less time-consuming.
  • The requirement to have an English-only policy in the classroom appears to have turned the English teacher into a traffic cop at times.
  • Students can only learn complex concepts to a limited extent due to a lack of English vocabulary in relation to English grammar.

All of these are valid arguments in favour of an English-only policy in the ESL/EFL classroom. However, there are compelling reasons for students, particularly beginners, to be able to communicate in other languages. Here are some of the more compelling arguments made in favour of the constructive use of other languages in the classroom:

  • Allowing or allowing learners to explain grammar concepts in their L1 (native language) speeds up the learning process.
  • Allowing some communication in the learners’ L1 creates a more relaxed environment conducive to learning.
  • When other languages are permitted, translating difficult vocabulary becomes much easier and less time-consuming.
  • The requirement to have an English-only policy in the classroom appears to have turned the English teacher into a traffic cop at times.
  • Students can only learn complex concepts to a limited extent due to a lack of English vocabulary in relation to English grammar.
  • Students can fill in the gaps in class by communicating in another language, especially if the class is large.

These are equally valid reasons for possibly allowing some communication in the learners’ L1. The truth is, it’s a touchy subject! Even those who adhere to an English-only policy allow for some exceptions. Pragmatically, there are some situations in which a few words of explanation in another language can do the world of good.

Exception 1: If, despite multiple attempts...

If students still do not understand a concept after numerous attempts to explain it in English, it is helpful to provide a brief explanation in the students’ L1. Here are some ideas for how to explain these brief interruptions.

  • If you are fluent in the students’ first language, explain the concept. Mistakes in students’ L1 can actually aid in the development of a relationship.
  • If you are unable to communicate in the students’ first language, ask a student who clearly understands the concept. To avoid repetition, make sure to rotate the students who explain. To make a teacher’s pet.
  • If you understand students’ L1, have them explain the concept to you in their native language. This allows you to check their comprehension and demonstrate to students that you are also learning a language.

Exception 2: test instructions.

If you are teaching in a situation where students must take comprehensive English tests, make sure they understand the instructions completely. Unfortunately, students frequently perform poorly on tests because they do not understand the assessment’s instructions, rather than their language skills. In this case, it is a good idea to go over the students’ instructions in their native language. Here are some activities that you can use to ensure that students understand.

  • Students should translate the instructions into their first language. Students should be divided into groups to discuss differences in translation and comprehension.
  • Distribute the instructions to the class on separate strips of paper. Each student is in charge of translating a comic strip. Students should read the English passage first, followed by the translation. Discuss whether the translation is correct or incorrect as a class or in groups.
  • Give examples of questions for directions. Read the instructions in English first, then in the student’s first language. To assess students’ comprehension, have them answer practise questions.

Clear explanations in the L1 aids of the learners

When more advanced students can assist other students in their native language, the class progresses significantly. It is a purely pragmatic question in this case. It is sometimes more beneficial for the class to take a five-minute break from English rather than spend fifteen minutes repeating concepts that students do not understand. Some students’ English language skills may prevent them from comprehending complex structural, grammatical, or vocabulary issues. In an ideal world, the teacher would be able to explain each grammar concept in such a way that every student would understand it. However, especially for beginners, students require immediate assistance from their native language.

Conclusion

It’s unlikely that a teacher enjoys disciplining his or her students. It is nearly impossible to ensure that others do not speak in a language other than English when a teacher is paying attention to another student. Students who speak in other languages can, admittedly, annoy others. It is critical for a teacher to turn on and prevent conversations in other languages. However, if you are having a Disturbingly good conversation in English, telling others to only speak English can disrupt a good process during class.

Perhaps the best policy is simply to speak English โ€“ with a few caveats. It is a difficult task to insist that no student speak any other language. Creating an environment in the classroom that is solely for English should be a priority, but it should not be the end goal of a welcoming English learning environment.

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