Evidence From the Phylogenetic Domain and the Use of L1 in English Language Teaching

Hywel Evans, Vahid Rafieyan, Natsue Hasebe


The theoretical foundations supporting adherence to naturalistic language learning approaches appear to have entirely collapsed, just as non-naturalistic approaches to language teaching such as translation and translanguaging have become increasingly respectable in English language teaching. In line with this, language and language learning are increasingly being understood as sociocultural phenomena, inevitably situated in local contexts, rather than in terms of manipulation of an abstract, universally-shared set of syntactic rules. This prompts a reevaluation of both traditional methods and innovation in specific sociocultural settings. We offer a review of some important developments in our understanding of language acquisition, with particular focus on evidence from the phylogenetic domain, often overlooked by language professionals, and suggest directions for fruitful investigation. In this regard, we recommend attention first to methods that have stood the test of time in the sociocultural milieu, that are acknowledged as having value by both local teachers and students. As a notable example of these, we focus on the pedagogical use of L2 vocabulary items embedded in L1 text. We find that the claim made by Japanese native local teachers, that such L1 use is helpful in vocabulary learning, receives significant support from our experimental results. 

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5296/ijl.v12i2.16588

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