L2 Methodology tips: Using students’ schema in their English classes

What if we use Guarani to make positive language transfer in our English classes?

Auxiliaries do/does

Well, I use Guarani when introducing the auxiliaries do/does. Since these are usually difficult to explain to Spanish speakers because of the lack of these auxiliaries in our language, showing them a Guarani equivalence is always good to clarify any doubts. The Guarani lexical items “piko” and “pa” are usually used as question form markers. Therefore, I usually write on the board:

Moo                piko                (nde)   remba’apo?

Where            do                   you      work?

Mba’e             pa                   (ha’e)  ojapo?

What               does               he        do?

The reaction of the students is a mixture of awe and happiness, since they can relate the target language with their mother tongue/second language.


I also normally use Guarani in order to teach possessives. Since Guarani and English share the possessive form order, I neither need to recur to an extensive English explanation (which, at this level, is meaningless) nor to a Spanish translation. Usually possessives are introduced along with the “Family Members” topic. I just want them to develop analytic/patterning skills by writing on the board:

Nde     rembireko      sy

Your    wife’s              mother

Pea     (ha’e)  itua                 ryguasu

That    is         his father’s     chicken

Taking advantage of our students’ background is always a good way to help them deal with inductive teaching. Therefore, using their L1 or L2 in the foreign language classroom does not only integrate their affective area by providing an easy environment where they can relate the language they already know with the target language, but also their cognitive aspect when doing the comparison and contrast of both, their mother tongue and the target language.


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