Pakistani university English teachers’ cognitions and classroom practices regarding their use of the learners’ first languages

Said Imran, Mark Wyatt

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There has been a recent increase in research into language teachers’ cognitions regarding their use of the learners’ mother tongue(s). However, one strand of this research has tended to elicit idealized cognitions with little reference to actual classroom behaviour through questionnaires and interviews. This is in contrast to the other strand which, through drawing on observations too, has managed to elicit situated cognitions based on classroom events. However, the relationship between these and the teachers’ idealized cognitions has often been left unexplored. If there is a gap, this could potentially result in negative emotions, such as guilt and confusion, amongst students as well as teachers. This case study of three Pakistani university English teachers explores (through interview) their idealized cognitions regarding their use of the target language and the learners’ first language(s) (Urdu and Pashto); it explores their observed classroom practices and their rationale for these, elicited through stimulated recall. Findings reveal that while the idealized cognitions of all three teachers supported the exclusive use of the target language, two of these teachers used the learners’ first languages in class to some extent and subsequently justified ‘judicious’ first language use. To explain the gap between idealized cognitions and classroom behaviour, the study draws on various personal and contextual factors, e.g. other cognitions including feelings of identity, prior language learning experiences and perceptions of the students’ language proficiency. Implications include the need for awareness-raising in Pakistani higher education and public debate on language policy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)138-179
JournalAsian EFL Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2015


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