Rethinking the Other Language(s) in the English Language Classroom
with Philip Kerr


The learner’s own language (or L1) is an unavoidable feature in English language learning, but it is rarely mentioned in teacher training or teacher development programmes. In this self study course with Philip Kerr, you’ll explore the issues, prejudices and practical realities of own-language use in English classrooms. At the end of the four weeks, you will have a clear idea of the relevance of own-language use in your own teaching context, and you will have a good repertoire of teaching techniques and activities in which the learners’ own language is exploited.

Session 1: Where does the idea that we shouldn’t use the learners’ own language come from?
This introduction looks at how an English-only approach has come to be part of English language teaching orthodoxy. We’ll look at the reasons that are usually given for banning the learners’ own language and the research that challenges these beliefs. We’ll explore the role that translation has played (and plays) in language learning and teaching, and the different kinds of activities that involve the learners’ own language(s).

Session 2: Focusing on the teacher
Most teachers use the language that they share with their students some of the time, but they often do this as a ‘fall-back’ option and sometimes with a sense of guilt. How can we take a more principled approach? This week, we’ll be looking at a toolkit of teaching techniques which use the learners’ own language in various ways. A principled use of own-language techniques can result in the learners using more English, not less!

Session 3: Focusing on the learner
Discussions about own-language use tend to focus on what the teacher does and says. This week, we’ll focus on the learners. What preferences do they have? How, in fact, do they usually use their own language in class and for self-study? Which bilingual tools do they use and which tools should they use? What options are available to the teacher when the students in a class come from different language backgrounds?

Session 4: Language focus and language skills
Building on the practical ideas of the previous week, we’ll be exploring and sharing further practical ideas and resources for use in teaching grammar and vocabulary and for developing the four language skills.

Each recorded session will involve discussing and trying out of activities as well as the presentation of ideas and an opportunity for you to answer a discussion question.

Each download includes the original course recordings, handouts, readings, and discussion questions

US $69 – Course Download


As always, iTDi believes that all teachers deserve the same opportunity to improve themselves. Therefore, a limited number of scholarships will be available for this course. Please apply through our scholarship application and specify which course you would like a scholarship for.

iTDi Advanced Skills Self Study courses allow you to enjoy the content of some of our most popular Advanced Teaching Skills live courses, at your own pace and at a time that is convenient for you. And you can revisit the course recordings and resources as often as you like.


Advanced Skills Self Study Courses

Get your professional development certified with iTDi

This is not a live course. Your purchase includes includes access to four video recordings, readings, and discussion questions. Teachers can earn a Certificate of Completion verifying 20 Professional Development hours if desired. To receive a certificate teachers are required to submit written responses to the discussion questions

Course Download $69


Questions about the course?


About Philip Kerr:

Philip Kerr is a teacher trainer, lecturer and materials writer who lives in Vienna, Austria. His publications include the award-winning ‘Translation and Own-Language Activities’(Cambridge University Press, 2014) and a chapter entitled ‘Questioning ‘English-only’ classrooms: own-language use in ELT’ in the ‘Routledge Handbook of English Language Teaching’ (forthcoming). Coursebooks he has written or co-written include ‘Straightforward’ and ‘Inside Out’ (both Macmillan). He is also the author of ‘How to Write Vocabulary Presentations and Practice’ (ELT Teacher 2 Writer). Philip is a consultant for Cambridge English Teacher and he blogs about technology and English language teaching.

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