MA Education TEFL dissertation prize winner 2013

Wesam Alshammari

Wesam Alshammari‘Remember…no Arabic please’: Re-examining the ‘English-only’ policy in EFL classrooms in a private primary school in Saudi Arabia

'I am deeply honoured at receiving such a prestigious award from the School of Education at the University of Birmingham. I truly appreciate your recognition of my work. Receiving this award will undoubtedly encourage me more to work towards achieving both my educational and professional goals. I would like to dedicate this award to my loved ones, my parents, who have supported me throughout my entire studies. Furthermore, I would like to express my deepest gratitude to my tutors for their generous support and outstanding guidance. This award provides me with extra boost of motivation to pursue my Ph.D. studies as well the confidence to view my future endeavours with enthusiasm.'

Abstract

The monolingual approach has long been advocated in the field of English language teaching and has gained widespread acceptance for many ESL/EFL contexts. For some language educators, English-only is seen as a crucial feature of providing optimal ELT conditions, implying that prohibiting the home language facilitates L2 learning and enhances learners’ achievements. However, pedagogical research has questioned these assumptions, providing minimal support for monolingualism and emphasising the necessity of selectively using L1 in the classroom. This dissertation involves a qualitative study of EFL classrooms in a private primary school in Saudi Arabia in the form of interviews, observations and field and diary notes. The empirical findings mirror the academic debate of whether L1 should be allowed or totally banned. They also reveal that despite the hegemonic status of the English-only rule among participants’ beliefs and practices, the use of L1 was found to be pedagogically crucial in the primary school classroom as it served a set of cognitive, social and communicative functions. Nevertheless, further research is needed to bring native language back from exile and develop a more tolerant attitude toward incorporating the judicious use of L1 in EFL classrooms.