Header Image Header Image

Using L1 to keep forms and functions straight

Teachers especially would usually discourage you from relying on your mother tongue when studying a second or foreign language.  The argument is that it may have adverse consequences for the learning process.  However, depending on your learning style preferences, you may find that a judicious use of the first language can be beneficial in the development of your second language.  For instance, you may find that the use of problematic Spanish forms becomes easier when you associate these form with their English equivalent.  In short, at times translation may work just fine for you!  So be prepared to revisit an adage such as “don’t translate!”

If you want to see two specific examples of this strategy, click on the links below.

English equivalents for por (When to use por)

Thinking in English (Preterite vs. imperfect)




Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA) • 140 University International Center • 331 17th Ave SE • Minneapolis, MN 55414 | Contact CARLA