University students’ perception toward the use of the mother tongue in the EFL classrooms

Siti Hawa, Suryani Suryani, Rini Susiani, Ema Dauyah, A. Halim Majid


This study identified learners’ perceptions toward using the mother tongue and analyzed the function or occasions of its use in the EFL classroom. A mixed-methods design, employing classroom observation, questionnaire, and semi-structured interview as data collection methods, was used to pursue this study. The questionnaire items gained the students’ opinion on two categories, namely: students’ preference and occasion of mother tongue use. Twenty undergraduate students who took the Speaking course at a private university in Aceh were involved as the participant of the observation and questionnaire. Meanwhile, only three of them were chosen as the interviewee. The questionnaire data were analyzed quantitatively. In contrast, the observation and interview data were analyzed qualitatively. The results indicated that the use of mother tongue brought positive and negative impacts regarding the students’ perception based on their various English proficiency levels. The low level of English proficiency and intermediate students revealed a higher preference toward the mother tongue to understand the instructions, explain unfamiliar vocabularies, and understand the differences or similarities of English pronunciation and idioms. At the same time, the advanced students indicated a negative perception of mother tongue use. They chose to avoid using their mother tongue to improve their skill through maximum exposure to English as the target language in the speaking classroom atmosphere.


bilingual classroom; EFL students; mother tongue; perceptions

Full Text:



Al-Auwal, T. M. R. (2017). Reluctance of Acehnese youth to use Acehnese. Studies in English Language and Education, 4(1), 1-14.

Al Sharaeai, W. A. A. (2012). Students’ perspectives on the use of L1 in English classrooms [Unpublished master’s theses]. Iowa State University.

Alshehri, E. (2017). Using learners’ first language in EFL classrooms. IAFOR Journal of Language Learning, 3(1), 20-33.

Amin, F. M., & Sundari, H. (2020). EFL students’ preferences on digital platforms during emergency remote teaching: Video Conference, LMS, or Messenger Application? Studies in English Language and Education, 7(2), 362-378.

Aziz, Z. A., Yusuf, Y. Q., & Menalisa. (2020). National language or ethnic language? Young parents’ language choice for their children in the Acehnese home. The International Journal of Communication and Linguistic Studies, 18(1), 21-35, 2327-7882.

Aziz, Z. A., Yusuf, Y. Q., & Aulia, N. (2021). Acehnese attitudes towards their heritage language: A qualitative, inter-generational study. The Qualitative Report, 26(8), 2631-2647.

Anggrahini, N. W. (2019). Students’ perception on the use of L1 in the English language classroom in SMA Taman Siswa Mojokerto. Journal RETAIN, 7(1), 139-146.

Cook, V. (2001). Using the first language in the classroom. The Canadian Modern Language Review, 57(3), 402-423.

Creswell, J. W. (2014). Research design (Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed method approaches) (4th ed.). SAGE Publications.

Cudi, B., Kiliç, M. E., & Kaplan, O. (2014). Teachers’ and learners’ perceptions about using L1 in English language classrooms. Retrieved from

Elmetwally, E. E. (2012). Students’ and teachers’ attitudes toward the use of learners’ mother tongue in English language classrooms in UAE public high schools [Unpublished doctoral dissertation]. The British University.

Fitriani, S. S., Prasetyaningsih, D. R., Samad, I. A. (2017). The influence of first language toward students’ achievement in learning English. Jurnal Pencerahan, 11(1), 28-38.

Fraenkel, J. S., Wallen, N. E., & Hyun, H. H. (2012). How to design and evaluate research in education. Mcgraw-Hill Education.

Gunantar, D. A. (2016). The impact of English as an international language on English language teaching in Indonesia. Language Circle: Journal of Language and Literature, X(1), 141-151.

Harmer, J. (2007). How to teach English. Pearson Education Limited.

Kasim, U., Yusuf, Y. Q., & Ningsih, S. R. J. (2019). The types and functions of code switching in a thesis defense examination. EduLite: Journal of English Education, Literature, and Culture, 4(2), 101-118

Khati, A. R. (2011). When and why of mother tongue use in English classrooms. Journal of NELTA, 16(1), 42-51.

Miles, M. B., & Huberman, A. M. (1984). Qualitative data analysis: A sourcebook of new methods. SAGE Publications Inc.

Mouhanna, M. (2009). Re-examining the role of L1 in the EFL Classroom. UGRU Journal, 8, 1-19.

Mulyani, Fidyati, Suryani, Suri, M., & Halimatussakdiah. (2021). University students’ perceptions through e-learning implementation during COVID-19 Pandemic: Positive or negative features dominate? Studies in English Language and Education, 8(1), 197-211.

Noormohamadi, R. (2008). Mother tongue, a necessary step to intellectual development. Journal of Pan-Pacific Association of Applied Linguistics, 12(2), 25-36.

Pillai, S., Soh, W.-H., & Yusuf, Y. Q. (2015). Perceptions about one’s heritage language: The case of the Acehnese in Kampung Aceh and Malacca Portuguese-Eurasians in the Portuguese Settlement in Malaysia. Kemanusiaan: The Asian Journal of Humanities, 22(2), 67-92.

Qiong, O. (2017). A brief introduction to perception. Studies in Literature and Language, 15(4), 18-28.

Resmini, S. (2019). EFL students’ perception towards the use of Bahasa Indonesia in an English classroom. ELTIN Journal, 7(1), 12-22.

Sa’d, S. H. T., & Qadermazi, Z. (2015). L1 use in EFL classes with English-only policy: Insights from triangulated data. Center for Educational Policy Studies Journal, 5(2), 159-175.

Samingan, A. (2016). First language interference in EFL students’ composition of IAIN Salatiga [Unpublished master’s thesis]. Universitas Muhammadiyah.

Sari, D. F., Yusuf, Y. Q., Darniati, N., & Fajrina, D. (2020). Boosting young EFL students’ speaking through game activities. Elementary Education Online, 19(2), 436-444.

Schreiber, J. B., & Asner, K. (2011). Educational research. John Willey and Son, Inc.

Sharma, B. K. (2006). Mother tongue use in English Classroom. Journal of Nelta, 11(1-2), 80-87.

Silvani, D. (2014). The use of first language in English classroom: Functions and reasons (A case study at SMP Negeri 2 Cisayong in the academic year of 2015/2016) [Unpublished master’s thesis]. Universitas Sebelas Maret.

Sipra, M. A. (2007). Bilingualism as teaching aid in a language class: L1 as a facilitator in teaching/learning process of L2 at intermediate/certificate level. [Unpublished dissertation]. National University of Modern Languages.

Sulistiyo, U. (2016). Learning English as a foreign language in an Indonesian university: A study of non-English department students’ preferred activities inside and outside the classroom. Indonesian Journal of English Teaching, 5(1), 1-26.

Tashakkori, A., & Teddlie, C. (2003). Handbook of mixed method in social and behavioral research. Sage Publication, Inc.

Urdaneta, J. L. L. (2011). Spanish-English writing structure interferences in second language learners. Gist Education and Learning Research Journal, 5, 158-179.

Yusuf, Y. Q. (2009). A pragmatic analysis of a teacher’s code-switching in a bilingual classroom. The Linguistics Journal, 4, 6-39.

Yusuf, Y.Q., Mustafa, F., & Iqbal, R. M. (2021). An inquiry into grammatical errors in writing committed by high achieving EFL students. International Journal of Language Studies, 15(2), 1-22.

Zhao, Y. N. (2019). Negative transfer of mother tongue in English. Creative Education, 10, 940-946.


Article Metrics

Abstract view : 0 times
PDF - 0 times


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Print ISSN: 2355-2794, Online ISSN: 2461-0275

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

View Journal Stats