Teaching Monolingual versus Multi-lingual groups There are two broad categories of

There are two broad categories of situations in which non-native English speakers may learn English. Multi-lingual classes are with students from various nationalities normally in a country where English is the native language. This may be considered as teaching 'English as a Second Language (ESL). Monolingual classes are usually in the students' home country and this context is 'English as a Foreign Language' (EFL). In multi-lingual classes the students are living in an English speaking country and are exposed to the language, either for a limited period of time or permanently. In class they must use English to communicate even if there are some other students with the same native language (L1). The teacher will probably ask them to sit separately, and even if he/she speaks their native language it will not be used in class because the teacher's job 'is to serve as a model of fairness and neutrality and only English is the surest way to achieve this in a multilingual classroom' (1). In multi-lingual groups students are likely to have a higher intrinsic motivation (1a) which the teacher should take into account in his approach and lesson planning. Task based activities can involve extra-classroom activities in ESL teaching e.g. interviewing , and it is said that a teacher can 'focus more intensively on accuracy' (1) in speaking because there are opportunities for fluency practice outside the classroom. Culturally related activities can be used to great advantage in multi-lingual classes. Rosemary Richey (2) feels that intercultural training is not just an added 'extra' in Business English but that it is essential to 'genuinely communicate in a real life business setting'. The teacher could find difficulty in multi-lingual classes because students from different cultures will have different language problems and learning styles. The Japanese have been classified as 'reflective learners' whereas Brazilian students are 'impulsive learners' (1). In a monolingual class, students could have a low intrinsic motivation (1). They find themselves in classes of 30 ' 50 at university and have to pass an examination or study English as part of a compulsory curriculum. Alternatively a high extrinsic motivation in certain situations e.g. businessmen with promotion prospects in smaller classes, can give good results (1). The classroom activities in monolingual groups can be related to the students' culture and will need to have as much student talking time as possible since there is otherwise very little opportunity to speak English. It is very important to aim the activity at the students' level otherwise they will resort to the use of L1 either through boredom or because they are out of their depth. At a presentation on English Language Teaching in Japan in 2004, the conclusion reached was that 'properly trained Japanese English teachers will more often do a better job ' (3) than the EFL teachers in Japanese High Schools. In the future, as globalization continues, cultural awareness will become increasingly more important. This should be taken into greater consideration in the English Language teaching field especially regarding monolingual and multi-lingual groups.


1. Daniel Krieger. http://exchanges.state.gov/forum/vols/vol43/no2/p8.htm 1a. Daniel Krieger refers to Harmer 1991.

2. Rosemary Richey. www.macmillandictionary.com/med-magazine/October 2004/25 -MED- Magazine-contributors.htm.

3. Stephen Shucart www.edinet.ne.jp~takeshisimages/jalt/jalt%202004/jal047.htm