I noticed several negative effects of using too much of L1.
1- I noticed that there was little evidence of my students acquiring L2 over an extended period of time. For example, during a Greetings Unit, most of the learners could use the target vocabulary during class activities and games. However, if I a student the same target questions outside the classroom, they would not understand me and they would fail to produce an appropriate answer. Furthermore, if I engaged a student with phrases from a previous unit, he or she would generally be unable to produce L2.
My students used target vocabulary in current unit activities, but had little ability to apply L2 outside of the classroom or in the future.
2- I noticed that there was a tendency towards low student self-motivation. Spanish with Señor Howard would be boring, except that I bent over backwards to make it interesting and entertaining. I remember telling family and friends that I felt like I was an actor in front of students. I juggled, played the guitar, made videos, made powerpoints, used puppets…etc. I felt like I was a good foreign language teacher for doing all of these things. But I began to realize that I HAD to do these things or else students wouldn’t have a reason to pay attention or to care about what I was teaching. When I used so much L1 my class was not a language learning class, it was a “List Memorizing Class”. It was a “Play Silly Language Games Class”. The language was not meaningful or contextualized.
My L1 approach to teaching a foreign language bred classrooms full of students with low self-motivation.
My ‘TL’ Story (Part 2): Negative Affects Of L1 Use