Optimizing new language use by employing young learners' own language

W. L.Quint Oga-Baldwin, Yoshiyuki Nakata

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


The use and appropriate amount of students' own language (OL) in foreign language classes remains a subject of debate. While exclusive new language (NL) use may not necessarily always benefit all learners, especially young language learners (YLLs), overuse of the students' OL may not provide the same range of communicative experiences as greater NL exposure. This article reports on measures by which teachers of elementary-age YLLs use the students' OL in a systematic fashion to create an optimally rich NL environment. Successful elementary teachers of English as a foreign language in Japan and of Japanese as a foreign language in the United States were selected and observed, and classroom OL use practices enabling clear and engaging use of the NL were documented. Teachers made extensive use of signals for the use of the students' OL within routines for classroom management to reduce student confusion. These findings are discussed with implications for teachers seeking to use the students' OL to facilitate the use of the NL in class.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)410-421
Number of pages12
JournalELT Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Oct 1
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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