L1 and L2 in teaching
Since both L1 (English) and L2 (foreign languages) are taught in our schools, it is important to know how they might support one another. Here is a very small and incomplete collection of relevant documents:
- Research showing how L1 teaching can support L2 teaching
- Research showing how L2 teaching can support L1 teaching
- Research showing how L1 and L2 teaching can support each other
- Guidance on how to compare a foreign language with English
Research showing how L1 teaching can support L2 teaching
Kieseier, T, D Thoma, M Vogelbacher, and H Hopp. 2022. ‘Differential Effects of Metalinguistic Awareness Components in Early Foreign Language Acquisition of English Vocabulary and Grammar.’ Language Awareness. https://doi.org/10.1080/09658416.2022.2093888.
- Second-language learners benefit in learning a foreign language from having high metalinguistic awareness, that is when they can reflect on language and can manipulate sentences or words irrespective of their meaning. We investigated two aspects of metalinguistic awareness in early foreign language acquisition, (1) knowledge of how languages work and how they are similar or different (metalinguistic analysis) and (2) skills to change or rearrange elements of language and play with them (metalinguistic control). In this study, we investigate how these two aspects of metalinguistic awareness help primary school students at the initial stages of foreign language learning when proficiency is still limited. The results show that metalinguistic awareness is an important factor in foreign language learning even at a primary-school level. Of note, different aspects of metalinguistic awareness affect vocabulary and grammar learning, respectively.
- Ströbel, M, E Kerz & D Wiechmann. 2020. The relationship between first and second language writing: investigating the effects of first language complexity on second language complexity in advanced stages of learning. Language Learning.
- Recent studies have uncovered substantial individual differences in first language (L1) language attainment across the lifespan and across multiple components of language. The existence of such variability raises the question of its role in second language (L2) learning. The existing body of research on L1–L2 relationships has primarily targeted reading comprehension by means of controlled experimental designs. This study extended existing research by investigating L1–L2 relationships in writing through the automatic analysis of linguistic complexity in paired samples of authentic production data. For each writing sample, a series of measurements of 12 indicators was obtained using a computational tool that implements a sliding-window approach. Results from mixed-effects modeling revealed significant relationships between L1 complexity and L2 complexity for all but one measure, indicating that an L1 effect is robust across different levels of linguistic description.
McManus, K. (2019). Awareness of L1 form-meaning mappings can reduce crosslinguistic effects in L2 grammatical learning. Language Awareness, 28(2), 114-138. [download PDF]
- The present study examined the extent to which first language (L1) awareness can benefit second language (L2) grammatical learning of the French Imparfait, a crosslinguistically complex target feature. Sixty–nine English–speaking learners of L2 French received different types of explicit information about L2 or L2 + L1 form–meaning mappings. A ‘core’ treatment received by all learners consistedof EI about L2 with L2 comprehension–based practiceof French sentences. Two further treatments examined the impact of additional (i) EI about L1 and (ii) comprehension practice of L1 sentences. Results from an online self–paced reading test, offline judgment tests (in reading and listening) and an oral sentence completion test with source of knowledge probes showed that performance immediately after the instruction and then six weeks later improved only for learners exhibiting L1 awareness. These results suggest that awareness of L1 form–meaning mappings can benefit L2 grammar learning of a crosslinguistically complex target feature.
McManus, K. & Marsden E. (2019). Signatures of automaticity during practice. Explicit instruction about L1 processing routines can improve L2 grammatical processing. Applied Psycholinguistics, 40(1), 205-234. [download PDF]
- This study examined the extent to which explicit instruction about L1 and L2 processing routines improved the accuracy, speed, and automaticityof learners’ responses during sentence interpretation practice. Fifty–threeEnglish–speaking learners of L2French were assigned to one of the following treatments: (1) a ‘core’ treatment consisting of L2 explicit information (EI)with L2 interpretationpractice(L2–only group), (2) the same L2 core +L1 practicewith L1 EI (L2+L1 group), or (3) the same L2 core +L1 practice but without L1 EI(L2+L1prac group). Findings indicated that increasing amounts of practice led to more accurate and faster performance only for learners who received L1 EI(L2+L1 group).Coefficient of Variationanalyses(Segalowitz & Segalowitz,1993) indicated knowledge restructuring early on that appeared to leadto gradual automatization over time(Solovyeva andDeKeyser,2017; Suzuki,2017). Our findings that EI and practice about L1 processing routines benefited the accuracy, speed, and automaticityof L2 performance have major implications for theories of L2 learning, the role of L1 EI in L2 grammar learning, and L2 pedagogy.
McManus, K. & Marsden, E. (2019). Using explicit instruction about L1 to reduce crosslinguistic effects in L2 grammar learning. Evidence from oral production in L2 French. The Modern Language Journal, 103(2), 459-480. [download PDF]
- This study advances previous research about the effects of explicit instruction on second language (L2) development by examining learners’ use of verbal morphology following different types of explicit information (EI) and comprehension practice. We investigated the extent to which additional EI about L1 can reduce the effects of crosslinguistic influence in L2 oral production. Sixty-nine English-speaking learners of L2 French undertook either: (a) a ‘core’ treatment of EI about the L2 with L2 comprehension practice, (b) the same L2 core +L1 comprehension practice, (c) the same L2 core +L1 comprehension practice +EI about L1, or (d) outcome tests only. Results showed that providing additional EI about the L1 benefitted the accuracy of oral production immediately after the instruction and then 6 weeks later. These results suggest that tailoring instruction, specifically the nature of the EI, to the nature of the learning problem can facilitate L2 learning. In particular, EI about L1 can facilitate L2 learning by increasing learners’ awareness of similarities and differences in how L1 and L2 express the same meanings.
Relyea, Jackie Eunjung & Steven Amendum. 2019. English Reading Growth in Spanish‐Speaking Bilingual Students: Moderating Effect of English Proficiency on Cross‐Linguistic Influence Jackie Eunjung Relyea Steven J. Amendum. Child Development.
- Abstract: This study examined the extent to which kindergarten Spanish reading affected English reading growth trajectories through fourth grade among nationally representative Spanish‐speaking bilingual students (N = 312) in the United States and whether the association varied by students’ English oral proficiency. Multilevel growth curve analyses revealed that stronger early Spanish reading was related to greater English reading growth. Within the stronger Spanish reading group, students with lower English oral proficiency initially began behind their counterparts but caught up with and surpassed them later. Within the weaker Spanish reading group, the difference between lower and higher English oral proficiency groups increased over time. Findings suggest that initially well‐developed Spanish reading competence plays a greater role in English reading development than English oral proficiency.
McManus, K. (2019) Awareness of L1 form-meaning mappings can reduce crosslinguistic effects in L2 grammatical learning Language Awareness VOL 28 (2019) pp.114-13)
- Abstract: The present study examined the extent to which first language (L1) awareness can benefit second language (L2) grammatical learning of the French Imparfait, a crosslinguistically complex target feature. Sixty-nine English-speaking learners of L2 French received different types of explicit information (EI) about L2 or L2 + L1 form-meaning mappings. A ‘core’ treatment received by all learners consisted of EI about L2 with L2 comprehension-based practice of French sentences. Two further treatments examined the impact of additional (i) EI about L1 and (ii) comprehension practice of L1 sentences. Results from an online self-paced reading test, offline judgment tests (in reading and listening) and an oral sentence completion test with source of knowledge probes showed that performance immediately after the instruction and then six weeks later improved only for learners exhibiting L1 awareness. These results suggest that awareness of L1 form-meaning mappings can benefit L2 grammar learning of a crosslinguistically complex target feature.
- Sparks, Richard, Jon Patton & Julie Luebbers. 2019. Individual differences in L2 achievement mirror individual differences in L1 skills and L2aptitude: Crosslinguistic transfer of L1 to L2 skills. Foreign Language Annals 1–29.
- OASIS: accessible summary
- Abstract: Studies with U.S. secondary second language (L2) learners have revealed individual differences (IDs) in first language (L1) skills and L2 aptitude and shown that these IDs are related to L2 achievement and proficiency. In this study, U.S. students were administered measures of L1 achievement, L1 cognitive processing, and L2 aptitude; followed through 2 to 3 years of Spanish courses; and administered standardized measures of Spanish achievement at the end of each year. Students were divided into high‐, average‐, and low‐achieving groups according to their scores on the Spanish measures and compared on the L1 measures and L2 aptitude test. Findings showed significant overall group differences on most L1 measures and significant between‐group differences on most L1 measures and the L2 aptitude test. IDs in L1 literacy, L1 working memory, and L2 aptitude best discriminated among students who completed 2 versus 3 years of Spanish. Results support claims that IDs in L2 achievement mirror IDs in L1 skills and provide evidence for the crosslinguistic transfer of L1 to L2 skills.
McManus, Kevin, and Emma Marsden. 2016. “L1 Explicit Instruction Can Improve L2 Online and Offline Performance. An Exploratory Study.” Studies in Second Language Acquisition.
- This study investigated the effectiveness of providing L1 explicit information with practice for making more accurate and faster interpretations of L2 French Imparfait. Two treatments were investigated: (i) ‘L2-only’, providing explicit information (EI) about the L2 with L2 interpretation practice and (ii) ‘L2+L1’, providing the exact same L2-only treatment and including EI about the L1 (English) with practice interpreting L1 features that are equivalent to the Imparfait. 50 L2 French learners were randomly assigned to either L2-only, L2+L1, or a Control group. Online (self-paced reading) and offline (context-sentence matching) measures from Pretest, Posttest and Delayed Posttests showed that providing additional L1 EI and practice improved not only offline L2 accuracy, but also the speed of online L2 processing. To our knowledge, this makes an original and significant contribution about the nature of EI with practice, the role of L1 (Tolentino & Tokowicz, 2014), and extends a recent line of research examining EI effects in online sentence processing (Andringa & Curcic, 2015).
- Falk, Y., Lindqvist, C., Bardel, C. (2015) The role of L1 explicit metalinguistic knowledge in L3 oral production at the initial stage. Bilingualism, Language and Cognition 18, 2, 227-235
- Those with better metalinguistic knowledge about their 1st language (Swedish) performed better on placing attributive (colour) adjectives in front of nouns in their 3rd language (Dutch). Both Swedish and Dutch put adjectives in front of nouns, so this was transferring their knowledge from their first language. However, those with lower metalinguistic knowledge about their 1st language, transferred (erroneously) from their Romance 2nd languages, being more likely to put attributive adjectives post nominally.
- Hall, Graham, and Guy Cook. 2012. “Own-Language Use in Language Teaching and Learning.” Language Teaching 45 (03): 271–308. doi:10.1017/S0261444812000067.
- L2 teaching was dominated through the 20th century by the principle of using only L2 in the classroom, but recent research shows that L2 learning benefits from the ‘judicious’ use of L1, and from explicit comparisons with L1.
Sparks, R., J. Patton, L. Ganschow and N. Humbach, 2011. Subcomponents of second language aptitude and second-language proficiency. Modern Language Journal, 95: 253-273. Perspective. London: Multilingual Matters. pp: 11-35
- Ammar, Ahlem, Lightbown, Patsy, and Spada. Nina. 2010. ‘Awareness of L1/L2 Differences: Does It Matter?’ Language Awareness 19: 129–46. https://doi.org/10.1080/09658411003746612.
- Sparks, R., L. Ganschow and J. Patton, 2008. L1 and L2 literacy, aptitude, and affective variables as discriminators among high- and low-achieving L2 learners with special needs. In J. Kormos, & E. Kontra (Eds). Language learners with special needs. Bristol: Maltilingual Matters. pp: 11-35.
- Cook, Vivian. 2001. “Using the First Language in the Classroom.” Canadian Modern Language Review-Revue Canadienne Des Langues Vivantes 57: 402–23
- L1 can be a useful tool in teaching L2.
- Kupferberg, Irit. 1999. The Cognitive Turn of Contrastive Analysis: Empirical Evidence. Language Awareness 8. 210–213.
- Kupferberg, Irit & E Olshtain. 1996. Explicit contrastive instruction facilitates the acquisition of difficult l2 forms. Special issue on Cross linguistic approaches to language awareness. Language Awareness 5, 149–165. Language Awareness 5 (Special issue on cross-linguistic approaches to language awareness). 149–165.
- Sparks, R., Ganschow, L. Patton, J. (1995) Prediction of performance in first-year foreign language courses: Connections between native and foreign language learning. Journal of Educational Psychology 87, 638-655
- Sparks & Ganschow (1991) Foreign language learning difficulties: Affective or native language aptitude differences? The Modern Language Journal, 7, 3-16
Research showing how L2 teaching can support L1 teaching
- Martínez, M, L Clarke, L Hamilton & C Hall. 2023. Fostering crosslinguistic knowledge about language in young learners: Effects of explicit L2 Spanish grammar learning on L1 English grammar. Language Awareness. https://doi.org/10.1080/09658416.2023.2228196.
- Over recent decades, governments in predominantly English-speaking countries have been attempting to strengthen additional language teaching, often in the face of monolingual complacency and neglect. At the same time, they have been attending to concerns about national literacy levels (including pupils’ awareness of grammatical conventions) in the first language. In the light of this dual challenge, an important but under-researched issue is the extent to which studying an additional language might help children with their explicit knowledge of English as a first language. We approached this issue by investigating whether English primary school children could use explicit knowledge of grammar acquired through Spanish study to boost their performance on a national test of English grammar. We examined children’s English grammar test scores before and after they completed a series of self-study grammar activities in Spanish. We then compared those scores with the scores of another group of children who completed Spanish language activities which didn’t focus on grammar. Results provided preliminary evidence of a positive effect of Spanish grammar study on English grammar test performance.
- Murphy, Victoria, Ernesto Macaro, Sonia Alba, and Claudia Cipolla. 2015. The Inﬂuence of Learning a Second Language in Primary School on Developing ﬁrst Language Literacy Skills. Applied Psycholinguistics 36: 1133–53. doi:doi:10.1017 / S0142716414000095.
- Teaching Year 3 children French or Italian for 15 weeks had a measurable positive effect on their phonological processing and reading accuracy in English; the effect was especially strong with Italian because of its regular spelling.
- Cook, V. (Ed.). (2003a). Effects of the second language on the ﬁrst. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.
- Most chapters show either neutral or negative influences of L2 on L1, but one (by Murphy and Price) shows that young learners can become more aware of rules in L1 through learning L2.
Research showing how L1 and L2 teaching can support each other
- Gunning, P., White, J. & Busque, C. (2016). Raising learners’ awareness through L1-L2 teacher collaboration. Language Awareness 25 (1-2), 72-88.