Abstract

Learners’ language background is one of the factors which may influence the amount and functions of own-language use in English instruction. This article reports a study in which a group of almost 400 Polish and Norwegian secondary school learners of English were asked how their own languages are used in the classroom, how they use them when they study English at home, and, finally, how they assess their usefulness in relation to various aspects of learning English. In the study, learners’ behaviour and beliefs were investigated through a questionnaire and through interviews. The results indicate that Polish and Norwegian secondary classrooms are in many respects similar concerning how the students’ own languages are used. Also, there were few significant differences between Polish and Norwegian students’ attitudes to whether own-language use is useful for learning English. More significant differences were found in how these two groups of learners use their own languages to support the learning of English at home.

Own-language use in the classroom: rejection and reassessment

Much of twentieth century ELT literature recommended that learners’ own languages 1 should be either marginalized or eliminated altogether from the classroom. Initially, the arguments against own-language use were mostly arguments against translation: translation exercises were supposed to result in L1-based errors and to lead learners to the false belief that there were one-to-one correspondences between lexical items in the different languages. As G. Cook (2010 : 8) points out, the use of the native language in foreign language teaching was considered to be a departure from ‘natural’ language acquisition, which was seen as typically monolingual. In the classroom, the conditions resembling natural (i.e. monolingual) acquisitional contexts were supposed to be reproduced.

In more recent second language acquisition (SLA)-based approaches to foreign language acquisition, translation continues to be seen as a harmful activity ( Long and Robinson 1998 : 20). In more general terms, native language background is not regarded as an important factor determining how instruction should proceed. As Long and Robinson (ibid.: 17) say, in the subconscious process of linguistic development, learners pass through fixed developmental sequences which are largely unaffected by L1–L2 relationships. Thus, to help learners develop a new linguistic system, teachers should provide them with comprehensible L2 input and communicative L2 interaction rather than, for example, use translation exercises to increase learners’ awareness of L1–L2 relationships.

However, this lack of interest on the part of leading SLA researchers in possible ways of employing learners’ own languages to improve instruction is rather surprising since, as Hall and Cook (2012 : 289) observe, drawing learners’ attention to L1–L2 similarities and differences can be linked to ‘noticing’ and ‘focus on form’, which are basic concepts in current SLA theory. Further, it seems that the claims about L1 and L2 being separate systems do not correspond to what actually happens in the minds of bilingual language users. As V. Cook (2001 : 407) points out, ‘the two languages are interwoven in the L2 user’s mind in vocabulary (…), in syntax (…), in phonology (…), and in pragmatics (…)’. Because of these interactions and interdependences, it has been suggested that learning may be more effective if learners are made aware of similarities and differences between the L1 and L2 (for example Cummins 2007 ; Butzkamm and Caldwell 2009 ). These suggestions are confirmed in, for example, a study by Ammar, Lightbown, and Spada (2010) , which investigated the role of contrastive metalinguistic information in the learning of English as a second language by francophone learners.

The conclusion that Ammar et al . (ibid.: 142–3) reach with respect to L1–L2 contrasts is that ‘there is crucial information students need to know and that this information may best be provided through explicit instruction’. Assuming that this is indeed the case, an important question that remains is whether the amount of contrastive metalinguistic information, and in more general terms the amount of own-language use in the classroom, should be dependent upon the similarities and differences between the learners’ own languages and English, the target language.

The question of the relationship between own-language use and differences between languages was one of the issues addressed by Hall and Cook (2013) in a global survey of teaching practices. Hall and Cook (ibid.: 19) asked their respondents to judge the appropriateness of the statement that ‘[o]wn language use is dependent on the extent to which the learners’ own language is particularly different from English’. The teachers’ responses, however, did not reveal a clear pattern: very many teachers were undecided and there was just a slight tendency to disagree with the statement. The present study looks at this issue from the learners’ point of view and asks how learners of English from two different L1 backgrounds feel about the roles of their native languages in their learning.

Learners’ perceptions of own-language use: previous research

As Hall and Cook (2012 : 297) observe, there has been little research into learners’ perceptions of own-language use. Hall and Cook (ibid.) briefly review a handful of studies in which learners express both positive and negative opinions concerning L1 use in L2 instruction. For example, some of Rolin-Ianziti and Varshney’s (2008) participants, who were beginner L1 English learners of French as a foreign language at a university in Australia, attributed a positive role to English in learning grammar, vocabulary, and in classroom management. They said the L1 made it easier to understand and remember words, to grasp difficult grammatical points, and to comprehend task instructions. English also made some of them less anxious in the classroom. However, there were also students who were concerned about too much English being used: they stated that it deprived them of exposure to French and that it made them too comfortable and ‘lazy’.

A more recent study investigating learners’ perceptions of translation activities is that of Scheffler (2013) . In the study, a group of 45 Polish secondary school learners of English participated in two consciousness-raising activities: a grammar-translation exercise and a communicative activity. When asked for an evaluation, the learners expressed the view that translating sentences from Polish into English was as useful and interesting as practising grammar in oral communication. A point stressed by many learners was that translation was a good way of focusing on differences between Polish and English.

The study

Aim of the study and research questions

The general aim of the study is to investigate the roles of learners’ own languages in learning English. The following research questions have been formulated:

  • 1 How are learners’ own languages used in English language classrooms in two different L1 backgrounds?

  • 2 How do learners from two different L1 backgrounds use their own languages in learning L2 English at home?

  • 3 How do learners from two different L1 backgrounds perceive the roles of their own languages in learning L2 English?

L1 contexts

The two languages focused on were Norwegian and Polish because of the significant linguistic differences between them. Norwegian and English are Germanic languages which derive from a common ancestor language, whereas Polish is a Slavic language. Due to historical links, there are numerous lexical and grammatical similarities between Norwegian and English. Turning to lexis first, in modern English, we can find many words from Old Norse which were adopted in the Old and Middle English periods. The examples in Table 1 show that they are common day-to-day words.

table 1

Words of Scandinavian origin in modern English

English Norwegian Polish 
die dø umrzeć 
egg egg jajko 
rotten råtten zgniły 
take ta wziąć 
they de/dei oni 
English Norwegian Polish 
die dø umrzeć 
egg egg jajko 
rotten råtten zgniły 
take ta wziąć 
they de/dei oni 

As for grammar, there are a number of features which separate Norwegian and English from Polish (see Table 2 ). Let us just consider two examples. First, there are striking similarities between English and Norwegian in the verbal system.

table 2

Selected forms of the verb ‘like’

Infinitive Present Past Present perfect Past perfect 
like (English) like(s) liked have/has liked had liked 
like (Norwegian) liker likte har likt hadde likt 
lubić (Polish) lubię (-isz, -i, -imy, -icie, -ią) lubiłem/am (eś/aś, -/a/o, liśmy/yśmy, liście/yście, li/y) — — 
Infinitive Present Past Present perfect Past perfect 
like (English) like(s) liked have/has liked had liked 
like (Norwegian) liker likte har likt hadde likt 
lubić (Polish) lubię (-isz, -i, -imy, -icie, -ią) lubiłem/am (eś/aś, -/a/o, liśmy/yśmy, liście/yście, li/y) — — 

Second, the Norwegian and English case systems are much simpler than the Polish system: the former can be described as having two/three cases (see Table 3 ) whereas Polish has seven (see Table 4 ).

table 3

English and Norwegian case forms

English Nominative Genitive Norwegian Nominative Genitive 
 Accusative   Accusative  
 horse horse’s  hest hestens 
 daughter daughter’s  datter datterens 
English Nominative Genitive Norwegian Nominative Genitive 
 Accusative   Accusative  
 horse horse’s  hest hestens 
 daughter daughter’s  datter datterens 
table 4

Polish case forms

Polish Nominative Genitive Dative Accusative Locative Instrumental Vocative 
 koń konia koniowi konia koniu koniem koniu 
 córka córki córce córkę córce córką córko 
Polish Nominative Genitive Dative Accusative Locative Instrumental Vocative 
 koń konia koniowi konia koniu koniem koniu 
 córka córki córce córkę córce córką córko 

Procedure and sample

The study involves a mixed methods research design, combining quantitative and qualitative methods ( Teddlie and Tashakkori 2009 ). First, a questionnaire was administered to first-year upper secondary school students in Poland and Norway. In both countries, the questionnaires were administered online. To complement the findings from the survey, 25 students from the Polish group and 28 from the Norwegian sample were interviewed, each group in their native language. The interviews were recorded, transcribed, and translated into English. The participants were recruited through convenience sampling, as two schools from each country were contacted through acquaintances and asked to participate.

Table 5 presents the distribution of the students who participated in the survey in terms of L1 background, gender, age, type of study, length of English instruction, and self-reported level of English. The Norwegian students came from two different types of studies, i.e. general and vocational studies. However, in most categories in the questionnaire, no statistically significant differences ( p < 0.01) were found between these two groups.

table 5

Survey participants

  Polish L1 Norwegian L1 
Total number 194 197 
Gender Males 44.3% 50.8% 
 Females 55.7% 49.2% 
Age  15–16 years 15–16 years 
Study General studies 100% 59.9% 
 Vocational studies 0% 40.1% 
Length of instruction  9–12 years 10–12 years 
Overall level Low 4.1% 5.1% 
 Medium 59.8% 56.9% 
 High 36.1% 38.1% 
  Polish L1 Norwegian L1 
Total number 194 197 
Gender Males 44.3% 50.8% 
 Females 55.7% 49.2% 
Age  15–16 years 15–16 years 
Study General studies 100% 59.9% 
 Vocational studies 0% 40.1% 
Length of instruction  9–12 years 10–12 years 
Overall level Low 4.1% 5.1% 
 Medium 59.8% 56.9% 
 High 36.1% 38.1% 

Measuring instruments

The original questionnaire design took place in Poland. Before the final Polish version was developed, there were three pilot administrations. The Polish questionnaire was then translated into English and retranslated into Polish to check for inconsistencies. After that, the English version was translated into Norwegian and the Norwegian version was retranslated into English. The Norwegian questionnaire underwent one pilot administration. Before they were administered, the final Polish and Norwegian versions were discussed by the researchers in an effort to make them as equivalent as possible.

The questionnaire was divided into four parts:

  • 1 The role of L1 in the English classroom

  • 2 The role of L1 in learning English at home

  • 3 Students’ beliefs about L1 use when learning English

  • 4 Background information.

In Parts 1 and 2, the students were asked about different situations in which their native languages may be used in school and in home study. They were asked to mark their responses on a frequency scale with the categories ‘never’, ‘rarely’, ‘sometimes’, ‘often’, and ‘always’. The set of situations potentially involving L1 use in the classroom and during home study was developed on the basis of Hall and Cook’s (2013) items which were discussed further by the researchers with students and teachers during the design process in the two countries involved.

In the third part of the questionnaire, three main domains are covered. They reflect previous discussions and research findings concerning pedagogic functions of learners’ own languages summarized by Hall and Cook (ibid.: 8–9). The domains and scales were as follows:

  • 1 The linguistic domain

    • Scale 1: own-language use in learning grammar

    • Scale 2: own-language use in learning vocabulary

    • A high score on these two scales indicates that a student considers his/her native language useful in English grammar and vocabulary learning.

  • 2 The affective domain (see also Gardner 2010: 124–6)

    • Scale 1: own-language use in developing teacher–learner rapport

    • Scale 2: own-language use in reducing learner anxiety

    • A high score on Scale 1 indicates that a student regards own-language use as an important element in developing teacher–learner rapport. A high score on Scale 2 indicates a high level of anxiety as a result of exclusion of own-language use.

  • 3 The organizational domain

    • Scale 1: own-language use in assessment

    • Scale 2: own-language use in classroom management

    • A high score on Scale 1 indicates a preference for assessment in the native language. A high score on Scale 2 indicates that a student prefers classroom management (for example task instructions) to be performed in his/her native language.

Within each scale, the students were asked to express their opinions concerning own-language use on a five-point Likert scale from ‘strongly disagree’ to ‘strongly agree’. Since Likert scales are multi-item scales, in each scale there are six statements, of which three are positively keyed and three are negatively keyed. The English version of the Polish questionnaire is provided in the Appendix.

The interviews were structured and contained four questions. The first two asked whether Polish or Norwegian was used in situations in class or during home study not mentioned in the questionnaire. In question three, the interviewees were asked to identify the area in which their native languages helped them the most in learning English. Question four concerned the area in which the use of their native languages hindered the participants the most. If the students did not give immediate answers to questions three and four, they were given the following keywords: to explain words, language errors, grammar, to convey messages, to explain tasks or topics.

Steps in the analysis of the data

First, the learners’ original responses were converted into numerical values so that descriptive analyses of the data could be carried out. The alternatives in the frequency and Likert scales were converted into 1 to 5 scales. In the former, ‘never’ equalled 1, and so on. In the latter, in positively worded items, ‘strongly disagree’ meant 1 point and ‘strongly agree’ 5 points. In negatively keyed items, the scores were, of course, reversed. Second, Mann–Whitney U -tests were used to investigate differences between the Norwegian and the Polish samples. Non-parametric statistical analyses were applied as the data were ordinal. When comparing the results in Part 3, total scores for the scales in each category were used, as the scales were found to be internally consistent (see Table 6 ; all the Cronbach’s alpha coefficients were around 0.7 or higher).

table 6

Cronbach’s alpha coefficients

Scale Polish questionnaire Norwegian questionnaire 
Grammar 0.8 0.74 
Vocabulary 0.86 0.8 
Rapport 0.77 0.69 
Anxiety 0.9 0.79 
Assessment 0.83 0.84 
Classroom management 0.85 0.85 
Scale Polish questionnaire Norwegian questionnaire 
Grammar 0.8 0.74 
Vocabulary 0.86 0.8 
Rapport 0.77 0.69 
Anxiety 0.9 0.79 
Assessment 0.83 0.84 
Classroom management 0.85 0.85 

The analysis of quantitative data was complemented with a thematic analysis applied to the interviews ( Braun and Clarke 2006 ), identifying central patterns in the responses.

Results

In order to present the frequency data from Parts 1 and 2 of the questionnaire, stacked bar charts will be used. Each bar in the figures below shows the percentage contribution of the different response options (for example ‘never’, ‘rarely’, etc.) in the relevant categories (for example ‘rapport’, ‘discipline’, etc.). In Part 1 of the questionnaire, the two groups of learners were asked to estimate their teachers’ mother tongue use in the classroom. Figures 1 and 2 contain frequency data for the eight categories that were investigated.

figure 1

L1 Polish in the classroom

figure 1

L1 Polish in the classroom

figure 2

L1 Norwegian in the classroom

figure 2

L1 Norwegian in the classroom

In general, there are many similarities but also some interesting differences between the responses of the two groups. There are statistically significant differences ( p < 0.01) in own-language use in grammatical explanations, assessment, translation exercises, and task instructions: Polish teachers seem to rely more on their native language in the first two categories, whereas Norwegian teachers in the latter two.

More differences can be seen in how Polish and Norwegian learners use their native languages to support English learning at home. Figures 3 and 4 (over) provide the frequency data.

figure 3

L1 Polish at home

figure 3

L1 Polish at home

figure 4

L1 Norwegian at home

figure 4

L1 Norwegian at home

Polish learners significantly more often ( p < 0.01) use bilingual dictionaries and online translators. Similarly, they rely more on grammatical explanations in their native language and do translation exercises more often.

Finally, in Figure 5 box-and-whisker plots are used to illustrate the distribution of the total scores for each participant in each of the scales in Part 3. A box-and-whisker plot divides the data into quarters: the horizontal lines in the boxes are the medians (middle points in the distribution of the scores) and the ends of the boxes are the middle points of the two halves. The ends of the whiskers mark the minimum and maximum scores, which are called outliers, and are shown as separately plotted circles.

figure 5

Learners’ perceptions of L1

figure 5

Learners’ perceptions of L1

There were six items in each scale and five Likert response options for each item, which means that for a given scale the minimum possible score was 6 and the maximum was 30. The higher the score, the more positive assessment of the role of the native language in learning English. The score of 18 points can be interpreted as neutral with respect to a given issue.

The two sets of box plots in Figure 5 demonstrate that the medians for both samples are close or slightly above the 18-point level in terms of attitudes to own-language use. There are two categories in which the two groups of learners differ significantly ( p < 0.01): anxiety and classroom management. In the former, Norwegian students feel more anxious than Polish learners if they cannot use their native language in the classroom. In the latter, they agree more that their mother tongue should be used for classroom management (for example for task instructions). Also, one can observe that there are more extreme scores in the Norwegian sample, which means that more Norwegian students feel extremely positive or negative about the role of their L1 in learning English.

The analysis of the interviews produced two general findings. First, the students’ responses confirmed that the survey questions describing classroom and home L1 uses (from Part 1 and Part 2 of the questionnaire) were exhaustive. The only addition that was suggested by a Polish student concerned using translations of song lyrics to learn English vocabulary. Second, we were able to identify two central themes in the students’ responses: the native language as cognitive support in grammar and vocabulary learning (Polish students) and in performing classroom tasks (Norwegian students), and extensive (or exclusive) use of English in communicative interactions (both Polish and Norwegian students). This will be elaborated on in the next section.

Discussion

In both the Polish and Norwegian classrooms which were investigated in this project, learners’ own languages are present. From the students’ accounts, Polish and Norwegian teachers in many cases employ the mother tongue in similar ways. It is perhaps not surprising then that the two groups of learners’ perceptions of L1 roles in English study are also similar: learning experiences and learning context are certainly important determinants of learners’ beliefs about L2 study in general and not just about the usefulness of own-language use ( Richards 2015 : 138).

Polish and Norwegian in the classroom

In some cases, however, the teachers’ perceived behaviour did differ. Turning to Polish teachers first, one can see, from the stacked bar charts in Figures 1 and 2 , that they employ the mother tongue in grammatical explanations more often than their Norwegian counterparts. This could be due to the fact that certain grammatical categories of English (for example tense and aspect) are more challenging for Polish learners and require relatively complex explanations. Polish teachers may be aware that such explanations may be absorbed by the learners more efficiently in the native language (V. Cook op.cit.: 414).

As for Norwegian teachers, it is interesting to note their greater reliance on the mother tongue in task instructions and a higher frequency of translation exercises in Norwegian classrooms. In our opinion, both of these can be explained by referring to features of each educational context and the tasks and topics that are covered within them. In Norway, curriculum aims require students to discuss and elaborate on culture and social conditions in English-speaking countries and on different types of English language literary texts from different parts of the world ( Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training 2013 ). Thus, Norwegian students need to handle quite complex issues and tasks, some of which include translation. This can perhaps explain why teachers often provide clarification in the native language.

Turning to the Polish context, foreign language curriculum guidelines in Poland contain only general references to teaching about the culture of English-speaking countries. Teachers are first of all supposed to work on learners’ communicative skills in the language, and they normally focus on general grammar and vocabulary instruction to achieve this goal. One could perhaps describe English instruction in Norwegian upper secondary schools as content oriented and in Polish upper secondary schools as more language focused.

Polish and Norwegian during home study

According to Polish learners’ reported behaviour at home, they rely more heavily on their native language than Norwegian students do: they significantly more often read grammatical explanations in Polish, turn to bilingual dictionaries, and so on. It seems to us that these differences can be explained by a combination of linguistic and contextual differences. First, learners may turn to Polish explanations when they are faced with challenging grammatical categories and unfamiliar-looking vocabulary items. This may be reinforced by grammatical explanations in Polish often provided by their teachers. Second, the differences in focus of the two curricula—the focus on learning content in Norway, and on learning language in Poland—may also contribute to greater home use of grammar books and dictionaries in general.

Students’ beliefs about L1 use

As evidenced in the interviews, the inclusion of L1 explanations is appreciated by students in the Norwegian context:

I perhaps like best to get it in Norwegian, then in English afterwards … somewhat advanced stuff perhaps, a difficult topic in a text perhaps … talk a little in Norwegian about the topic for example, and then write sentences in English. (Student 22)

The need to understand complex topics and tasks was an important theme in the Norwegian interviews. This probably explains why Norwegian students would feel significantly more anxious than Polish learners if their native language could not be used in the classroom, which was one of the findings of the statistical analyses of the results in Part 3 of the questionnaire.

In contrast, a prominent theme in the Polish interviews concerned the role of Polish in mastering English vocabulary and grammar. In these two areas students find the Polish language most useful:

It is important for me to have a Polish equivalent of a word. Grammar can be explained in English, comparisons do not always work, I know it’s similar with vocabulary but it’s better to have something tangible. (Student 7)

For me it is better to learn grammar if I spell it out in Polish first, explain everything, and then translate it into English or start doing sentences. (Student 9)

Both groups of learners see their native languages as important tools for cognitive support. However, when it comes to practising speaking skills and free production, they feel that English should clearly dominate or even be used exclusively:

If we are to talk in general in class, or talk about how we are that day, then it easily shifts to Norwegian, and that is kind of silly, because when it is an English class, I think the whole class should be in English. (Student 11)

When we are to speak English to each other, then Polish should not be used, you should try to somehow find replacements in English if you don’t know a word or explain words in English. (Student 8)

Conclusion

In this study, we examined Polish and Norwegian learners’ beliefs and practices in the area of own-language use in learning English. We discovered that our participants’ beliefs were in many ways similar and that the practices differed in some interesting ways. It seems to us that the factors responsible for these results are first of all educational context (teachers’ L1 use and curriculum goals) and also differences between Polish and Norwegian.

This study is for us just a starting point for further exploration of practices and beliefs in the area of own-language use. The study is limited in two important aspects: first, it uses convenience samples, and second, it only involves languages from the Indo-European family. The linguistic differences between Polish and Norwegian are significant but obviously not as significant as, for example, those between Polish and Chinese. In future research, using the questionnaire we have developed, we intend to widen the scope of our study and examine representative samples of learners from more distant L1 backgrounds to investigate the extent to which learners’ own language background affects the ways in which their L1 might be used in learning English. In broader terms, we see our research as contributing to the understanding of how language distance can influence foreign language instruction in general.

Note

1
In this article, the terms ‘own language’, ‘native language’, ‘mother tongue’, and ‘L1’ will be used interchangeably. ‘L2’ will be used to refer to a second or a foreign language. The former applies to the status of English in Norway, the latter to the status of English in Poland.

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Appendix

The role of Polish in learning English as a foreign language

Part 1: The role of Polish in the English classroom
Your English teacher uses Polish: Never Rarely Sometimes Often Always 
to explain vocabulary      
to explain grammar      
to compare English and Polish grammar      
in translation tasks      
to give evaluations      
to give instructions for tasks      
to maintain discipline      
to develop good relations with pupils      
Your English teacher uses Polish: Never Rarely Sometimes Often Always 
to explain vocabulary      
to explain grammar      
to compare English and Polish grammar      
in translation tasks      
to give evaluations      
to give instructions for tasks      
to maintain discipline      
to develop good relations with pupils      
Part 2: The role of Polish in learning English at home
When I am at home I: Never Rarely Sometimes Often Always 
use Polish-English or English-Polish dictionaries      
read explanations of English grammar in Polish      
compare English and Polish grammar      
do translation exercises      
use online translation programmes      
watch programmes/films in English with Polish subtitles      
When I am at home I: Never Rarely Sometimes Often Always 
use Polish-English or English-Polish dictionaries      
read explanations of English grammar in Polish      
compare English and Polish grammar      
do translation exercises      
use online translation programmes      
watch programmes/films in English with Polish subtitles      
Part 3: In your opinion

Below you will find a number of statements with which some people agree and others disagree. Please circle one alternative below each statement according to how much you agree or disagree with the statements.

For example:

Lech Poznań players are much better than Legia Warsaw players. 
Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 
Lech Poznań players are much better than Legia Warsaw players. 
Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 

When answering this question you should have circled one alternative only. The answer you select should express how you feel on the basis of what you know and think. Note: there is no right or wrong answer.

1 It would be worrying for me if I could not ask questions in Polish during the lesson.

Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 
Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 

2 The teacher’s comments concerning grades should be in Polish.

Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 
Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 

3 Speaking to each other only in English is essential for good teacher–student relations in the classroom.

Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 
Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 

4 Translating English words into Polish helps me to understand them.

Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 
Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 

5 I would feel quite relaxed if I had to depend only on English during the lesson.

Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 
Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 

6 It is easier for me to learn English grammar when it is explained in Polish.

Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 
Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 

7 When the teacher talks to students in Polish from time to time, this creates a good atmosphere in the classroom.

Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 
Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 

8 English is one hundred per cent sufficient for explaining to students what they are supposed to do.

Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 
Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 

9 English definitions of English words are better for me than Polish translations.

Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 
Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 

10 It is easier for me to understand English grammar when the teacher draws my attention to how it differs from Polish grammar.

Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 
Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 

11 It’s best if the teacher gives explanations for grades in English.

Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 
Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 

12 If I couldn’t ask my teacher any questions in Polish I would feel uneasy.

Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 
Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 

13 Knowing what English words mean in Polish makes it easier for me to learn them.

Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 
Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 

14 Communicating only in English during the lesson significantly contributes to friendly relations between the teacher and the learners.

Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 
Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 

15 Grammatical explanations in English are completely sufficient for me.

Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 
Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 

16 The teacher should use Polish to inform pupils how they are doing in English.

Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 
Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 

17 When I do not know the meaning of a word I prefer an explanation in English rather than in Polish.

Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 
Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 

18 The Polish language is the right language for giving task instructions.

Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 
Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 

19 Friendly teacher–student relations are best created through constant use of English in the classroom.

Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 
Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 

20 Test results should be discussed in English.

Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 
Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 

21 I prefer homework to be given in Polish.

Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 
Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 

22 It is easier for me to understand the meanings of English words when I know their Polish equivalents.

Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 
Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 

23 I feel comfortable when my teacher explains everything in English.

Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 
Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 

24 Evaluation criteria should be presented to learners in Polish.

Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 
Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 

25 Explanations in Polish help me to understand English grammar.

Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 
Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 

26 I have much better contact with my teacher when I can speak with him/her in Polish from time to time during the lesson.

Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 
Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 

27 All tasks to be completed by a student ought to be introduced in English.

Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 
Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 

28 I would be completely calm and confident if the whole lesson was conducted entirely in English.

Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 
Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 

29 I understand English grammar best when it is explained in English.

Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 
Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 

30 When the teacher explains what to do at home, he/she should do it in English.

Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 
Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 

31 A teacher becomes more accessible to his/her students when he/she uses Polish from time to time.

Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 
Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 

32 The teacher’s requirements should be explained in English.

Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 
Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 

33 For a pupil to understand well what to do in class it’s best to use Polish.

Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 
Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 

34 I would be anxious if there weren’t any explanations in Polish during the lesson.

Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 
Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 

35 Explanations of English words in English are more useful than Polish equivalents.

Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 
Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 

36 Discussing the differences between English and Polish grammar is a waste of time.

Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 
Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 
Part 4: About you

Gender:

Male  
Female  
Male  
Female  

Age:

15  
16  
17  
18  
More than 18  
15  
16  
17  
18  
More than 18  

First language:

Polish  
Other  
Polish  
Other  

Years I have been learning English:

0–6 years  
7–9 years  
10–12 years  
More than 12 years  
0–6 years  
7–9 years  
10–12 years  
More than 12 years  

I grade the level of my English as:

 Low Medium High 
Listening    
Speaking    
Reading    
Writing    
Overall    
 Low Medium High 
Listening    
Speaking    
Reading    
Writing    
Overall    

Key to Part 3

The linguistic domain

Scale 1: Grammar

Positively keyed items

6 It is easier for me to learn English grammar when it is explained in Polish.

10 It is easier for me to understand English grammar when the teacher draws my attention to how it differs from Polish grammar.

25 Explanations in Polish help me to understand English grammar.

Negatively keyed items

15 Grammatical explanations in English are completely sufficient for me.

29 I understand English grammar best when it is explained in English.

36 Discussing the differences between English and Polish grammar is a waste of time.

Scale 2: Vocabulary

Positively keyed items

4 Translating English words into Polish helps me to understand them.

13 Knowing what English words mean in Polish makes it easier for me to learn them.

22 It is easier for me to understand the meanings of English words when I know their Polish equivalents.

Negatively keyed items

9 English definitions of English words are better for me than Polish translations.

17 When I do not know the meaning of a word I prefer an explanation in English rather than in Polish.

35 Explanations of English words in English are more useful than Polish equivalents.

The affective domain

Scale 1: Teacher–learner rapport

Positively keyed items

7 When the teacher talks to students in Polish from time to time, this creates a good atmosphere in the classroom.

26 I have much better contact with my teacher when I can speak with him/her in Polish from time to time during the lesson.

31 A teacher becomes more accessible to his/her students when he/she uses Polish from time to time.

Negatively keyed items

3 Speaking to each other only in English is essential for good teacher–student relations in the classroom.

14 Communicating only in English during the lesson significantly contributes to friendly relations between the teacher and the learners.

19 Friendly teacher–student relations are best created through constant use of English in the classroom.

Scale 2: Anxiety

Positively keyed items

1 It would be worrying for me if I could not ask questions in Polish during the lesson.

12 If I couldn’t ask my teacher any questions in Polish I would feel uneasy.

34 I would be anxious if there weren’t any explanations in Polish during the lesson.

Negatively keyed items

5 I would feel quite relaxed if I had to depend only on English during the lesson.

23 I feel comfortable when my teacher explains everything in English.

28 I would be completely calm and confident if the whole lesson was conducted entirely in English.

The organizational domain

Scale 1: Assessment

Positively keyed items

2 The teacher’s comments concerning grades should be in Polish.

16 The teacher should use Polish to inform pupils how they are doing in English.

24 Evaluation criteria should be presented to learners in Polish.

Negatively keyed items

11 It’s best if the teacher gives explanations for grades in English.

20 Test results should be discussed in English.

32 The teacher’s requirements should be explained in English.

Scale 2: Classroom management

Positively keyed items

18 The Polish language is the right language for giving task instructions.

21 I prefer homework to be given in Polish.

33 For a pupil to understand well what to do in class it’s best to use Polish.

Negatively keyed items

8 English is one hundred per cent sufficient for explaining to students what they are supposed to do.

27 All tasks to be completed by a student ought to be introduced in English.

30 When the teacher explains what to do at home, he/she should do it in English.