Arab World English Journal (AWEJ) Volume 14. Number 4 December 2023                             Pp. 19-45

Full Paper PDF 

Exploring First Language Use in Non-Formal Foreign Language Education: A Mixed-
Method Approach

Raquel Criado
Department of English, Faculty of Arts,
University of Murcia, Murcia, Spain
Corresponding Author:

Patricia González-Romero
Salvador Sandoval Secondary School
Las Torres de Cotillas, Murcia, Spain


Received:07/18/2023                     Accepted:10/20/2023                 Published:12/15/2023


In Foreign Language Teaching, investigating the multiple variables that intervene in first language use is essential to uncover learning processes and design optimal teaching practices. Past studies have mainly focused on identifying teachers’ reasons for their first language use, while research on learners’ views is scarce. This mixed-method case study aims to provide a comprehensive description of first language use in a foreign language classroom through the examination of its pedagogical functions and the corresponding views held by the teacher and his students. This article adds to the scholarly body of knowledge about the role of first language use in Foreign Language Teaching with the yielding of constructive insights from non-formal education–a non-previously researched context. Specifically, this study was conducted in “Mar Menor” Center of Adult Education (Southern Spain). The main research questions address the quantification of the pedagogical functions of first language use generated by the instructor in certain classes and the comparison of his views with those of his students, concerning L1 use in general teaching and his sessions. Data comprised classroom observations, teacher’s stimulated recalls, students’ diaries and questionnaires addressed to both sets of participants. The results revealed the multifunctional nature of the teacher’s first language use and a fairly degree of alignment between his views and those of his students. This study underscores the importance of fostering learners’ agency. Furthermore, its findings can potentially inform Foreign Language Teaching by deepening the understanding of the myriad of factors and perspectives involved in first language use.
Keywords: Classroom observation, English as a Foreign Language, first language use, non-formal
education, students’ views, teacher’s views

Cite as: Criado, R., & González-Romero, P. (2023). Exploring First Language Use in Non-Formal Foreign Language Education: A Mixed-Method Approach. Arab World English Journal, 14 (4) 19-45.


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Received: 07/18/2023
Accepted: 10/20/2023 
Published: 12/15/2023 

Dr. Raquel Criado is an Associate Professor in the Department of English at the University of Murcia, Spain. Her research interests include form-focused instruction, second language writing, teacher education and the history of language learning and teaching. She has published in various specialized refereed venues (both journals and books) on these topics.

Patricia González-Romero has a Bachelor’s degree in English from the Spanish National Distance Education University. She also completed the Master in EFL Teacher Training and the Master in Theoretical and Applied Linguistics from the University of Murcia, Spain. Her research interests cover teacher education and form-focused instruction. ORCID ID: