How Russian Teachers of English Perceive Learners’ Native Tongue

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Natalia Troitskaya, The British School in Tokyo

For this paper I investigated what Russian teachers of English in Japan know and believe about the role and use of learners’ native tongue (or L1) in the classroom and how it influences their educational practices. Through qualitative research, I argue that teachers are aware of and support the methodological principles defined by the Russian school of teaching foreign languages, which advocates for active use of the native tongue in the classroom. Discussion of their educational practices shows that teachers consistently use the Japanese language and culture explicitly and implicitly. The study analysed how and why teachers use Japanese while teaching English. I propose four principles of using learners’ native tongue in the classroom, argue that the value of the native tongue must be acknowledged, and advocate for further research into effective ways to incorporate the Japanese language and culture into English lessons to make them more communicative and meaningful.