The Role of Native Language in ESL/EFL Teaching
Aug 25, 2008 English Language Teaching (ELT) 4919 Views
The Role of Native Language in Acquiring English
Study after study has demonstrated that there is a strong and positive correlation between literacy in the native language and learning English. Cummins (1989) explains that:
". . . although the surface aspects (e.g., pronunciation, fluency, etc.) of different languages are clearly separate, there is an underlying cognitive/academic proficiency which is common across languages.
This common underlying proficiency makes it possible for the transfer of cognitive/academic or literacy-reltaed skills across languages. Transfer is much more likely to occur from minorit to majority language because of the greater exposure to literacy in the majorit language outside of the school and the strong social pressure to learn it."
In recognition of this, Standards for the English Language Arts published by the International Reading Association and the National Council of Teachers of English stipulates in standard 10:
"Students whose first language is not English make use of their first language to develop competency in English language arts and to develop understanding of content across the curriculum."
Moreover, the National Research Council, in its study entitled Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children recommends
"LEP Children should be taught to read in the first language while acquiring proficiency in spoken English and then subsequently taught to extend their skills to reading in English."
The importance of valuing the skills and knowledge which students bring to the ESL classroom, regardless of the native language they speak should not be underestimated.
It is in utilizing the student's background knowledge that a more effective and efficient transition to acquiring English can best be accomplished.