The Use of Creolized English in FL Classes in Barbados: A Case Study of  the Use of Home Language in the Foreign Language Classroom

The Use of Creolized English in FL Classes in Barbados: A Case Study of the Use of Home Language in the Foreign Language Classroom

Paula González (The University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, Barbados), Korah L. Belgrave (The University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, Barbados), and Janice E. Jules (The University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, Barbados)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4075-6.ch005
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One of the most controversial issues in the teaching of modern languages throughout the 20th century has been without a doubt the debate on the use of students' first language in foreign language classrooms. In that regard, there have been many and varied arguments for and against this. In this chapter there is a review both of the reasons that have been discussed to reject the presence of L1 in the foreign language class and those in favor of including this language. In addition, the findings of research on Caribbean foreign language students' opinions and beliefs on the use of L1/HL in their language classes are presented. The chapter considers the students' views on the specific classroom contexts in which they consider the L1/HL useful in their process of learning the foreign language.
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The reality of the process of foreign language learning is that no human being starts from “scratch”. Everyone who is commencing the process of learning another language possesses the knowledge of his or her first language (L1) or native/home language which acts as a conscious, and at times a unconscious mechanism of learning. Cook (2001) pointed out that a native language is always present in the minds of second and foreign language learners. She further stated that (Cook, 2001) the L1 equips learners with the language competence they need when the translation method is used to understand the target language. Cook (2001) also argued that even though many language teachers work hard to keep their students separated from their mother tongue, there is still a mental link between this language and the other languages in their repertoire. In this regard, within the body of work on language acquisition and foreign language methodologies, the influence of the first language/home language (NL/HL) has often been controversial and this topic has been the origin of vigorous discussions. In fact, after the consistent controversy on grammar in language teaching, (Butzkamm, 2003) since the end of the 19th century, the use of the L1 in language classes has been the second most constant methodological issue discussed. Further, Gabrielatos (2001) described the use of L1 in foreign language classes as the “apple of discord” and (Galindo, 2012) its use in classrooms has been a concern for practitioners and researchers worldwide.

It is noteworthy that in most instances, the first language, native language, mother tongue or home language is really the speakers’ vernacular and foreign language learners of all ages often use it during classroom instruction. In other words, foreign learners are also included in the group of language learners who use their competence in the home language to assist with learning another language. As the foreign language is not found commonly in the country of the particular speaker, some authorities proposed that (Cook, 2001; Pan & Pan, 2010) during instruction in the foreign language classroom, the L1 or home language can be used conscientiously. These proponents advocate this strategy to encourage learners in the shift to the target language and improve their understanding of the information they receive during foreign language instruction. However, while this body of work is generally focused on languages such as English, Spanish or Chinese as the native/home language, there is value in examining the conditions for Caribbean learners, whose home languages are vernaculars related to standard languages, as they attempt to learn a foreign language.Thus, this chapter sets out to:

  • 1.

    Determine the views of foreign language learners who are Caribbean vernacular speakers on the use of their home /native languages in their classes at The UWI

  • 2.

    Investigate the perspectives of foreign language learners about particular instances when the home language is used during classroom instruction

  • 3.

    Provide information on the primary reasons learners propose for using the vernacular in the foreign language classroom.

Key Terms in this Chapter

New Concurrent Approach (NCA): An approach to L2 teaching that uses using two or more languages in the same context for instruction.

Vernacular: (vernacular language) The variety of language used in everyday life by the general population of a country ot territory.

Second Language Acquisition: This term can refer jointly to the acquisition and learning processes, designated as the set of unconscious processes through which the learner develops the ability to use linguistic structures and forms in a second language for communication.

Codeswitching: The alternative use of two or more languages or dialects in a single speech.

Target Language (L2): The language that constitutes the object of learning etiher in a formal context or in a natural one.

Learning Tools: Tools included in learning environments for managing the course and geared to facilitating student learning in the environment.

Native Language: The first language, home language or mother tongue, is a language that a person has been exposed to from birth or within the critical period.

Native Speakers: Those who share a mother tongue are considered as native speakers.

Mother Tongue (L1): Mother tongue or L1 is the first language that a human being learns in his childhood and that normally becomes his natural instrument of thought and communication. It is also called the home language.

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