Jane Willis: award winning writer, speaker and consultant on English language teaching
  • Speaking Mother Tongue during Lessons


    How can I stop my students speaking their mother tongue during task-based lessons?


    There is plenty of advice on how to cope with L1 use during pair-work in our book Doing Task-based Teaching, Chapter 10, pages 220 to 221.

    And also in my earlier book A Framework for Task-based Learning now an e-book, Chapter 3, section 3.3.5, pages 49-50

    But here is a solution sent in by Saul Deason, a teacher who practises TBL in Nagpur Maharashtra, India. It’s a lovely story.

    Dear Jane WillisA tale that may amuse you.

    I was teaching English to young dalits (so-called untouchables) in Nagpur in Maharashtra India. During the task based learning activities the learners were resorting to speaking in Hindi. I coaxed them not to but to no effect. In the end I was despairing so I told my students that they had to write to Jane Willis who I said was my professor when I did my MA (which wasn’t really true; at Manchester University I had read a manuscript written by you about Task Based Learning, anyway…) So I set this task and set the groups. The task was to write a letter to you and ask you if there was any point in doing TBL if the learners used mother tongue – in this case Hindi or Marathi.

    Well the letters were very poor (which made me aware of their deficiencies in writing skills) so I did not send off a copy. However after we did this task the attitude of the learners changed and they stopped talking Hindi/Marathi during TBL. Desired outcome achieved!

    Saul Deason