European Journal of Language Policy

Communicative language teaching: is there a place for L1 in L2 learning?

A case study in Spain and Norway

European Journal of Language Policy (2020), 12, (1), 55–83.


For decades, Second Language Acquisition (SLA)1 has been studied through different approaches and after several obsolete models such as the grammar-based or audio-lingual, a communication-based model was developed, becoming the current main approach used across the globe today, the Communicative Language Teaching (CLT). While it has been considerably successful, it is heterogeneous in principle and has had innovative approaches derived from it (CLIL, task-based, etc.). On the other hand, multilingual models (e.g. DMM [Dynamic Model of Multilingualism]) and plurilingual approaches have started to be considered; however, they are still seen in juxtaposition to CLT, where the language learner “is not explicitly taken into account as a plurilingual subject (able, for example, to call on the resources of his mother tongue(s) or of another foreign language of which he already has some knowledge)” (Coste et al. 2009: 9). In this paper we explore how L1 could be included in the CLT approach and we will propose a new model, which we tested in a pilot test as part of a broader study. The evidence obtained in our study suggests that L1 has an important role in language learning and that, using CLT guidelines, it can be included in a communicative approach.

Pendant des décennies, l’acquisition d’une langue seconde a été étudiée à travers différentes approches. Suivant plusieurs modèles obsolètes, tels que la méthode à base de grammaire ou la méthodologie audio-orale, un modèle basé sur la communication a été développé et est devenu l’approche principale actuelle utilisée à travers le monde, l’enseignement des langues communicatives. (CLT). Bien qu’il ait connu un succès considérable, il est hétérogène en principe et a donner lieu à des approches innovantes (par exemple : EMILE/CLIL, apprentissage par tâche). D’un autre côté, des modèles multilingues (par exemple DMM) et des approches plurilingues ont commencé à être envisagés, mais ils sont encore perçus en juxtaposition avec le CLT, où l’apprenant de langue «n’est pas explicitement pris en compte comme sujet plurilingue (capable, par exemple, pour faire appel aux ressources de sa (ses) langue(s) maternelle(s) ou d’une autre langue étrangère dont il a déjà une certaine connaissance)» (Coste, Moore et Zarate, 2009: 9). Dans cet article, nous explorons comment la L1 pourrait être inclus dans l’approche CLT et nous proposerons un nouveau modèle, que nous avons testé dans un test pilote dans le cadre d’une étude plus large. Les preuves obtenues dans notre étude suggèrent que la L1 a un rôle important dans l’apprentissage des langues et que, en utilisant les directives CLT, elle peut être incluse dans une approche communicative.

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Author details

Chabert, Alicia

Agost, Rosa