The official website of educator & arts patron Jack C Richards

Mother tongue use in the classroom

Question:

Submitted by Diani Nurhajati,  Indonesia

In Indonesia English is now introduced  at elementary school but elementary school students rarely use the language outside the class. Do you think teachers should use both English and Indonesian to communicate with the children during the teaching-learning process?

Dr Richards responds:

While the goal of teaching young learners is to use as much English in class as possible, when teaching homogeneous classes it is quite appropriate to use the mother tongue when necessary to explain the meaning of words and expressions and to help explain activities. Occasional use of the mother tongue provides a comfort zone for young learners, though the teacher and students should not become over-dependent on it.