First language use by adequate formal schooling adult English language learners in a university English language institute
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In their pursuit of a better way of life, immigrants who arrive in this country are faced with many challenges. One important challenge is their need to adapt to a new society that requires them to learn English as a second language (ESL). As adult learners enter ESL programs, they are confronted with a common sense belief that the exclusion of their native language (L1) and the exclusive use of the target language (TL) in their instruction is the best approach to learn English. Whether immigrant students are educated or not in their home countries, they face the double task of learning to speak and understand a new language, while also learning how to read and write in that same language. The purpose of this study, therefore, was to discover if and how a group of L1 educated adult learners used their first language as they learned and developed academic English in a university English language institute. An additional objective of the study was to examine the perceptions this sample group of adult students had towards their L1 as a learning and linguistic resource. Seven Spanish-speaking participants with a high school and/or college level L1 education were selected to take part in this qualitative study. Findings indicated that, in spite of some negative opinions expressed towards their L1, this group of L1 educated students used and relied on their L1 to develop academic English.
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