When you use English in your classes, it will emphasize to your learners that the English lesson is very different from any other lesson in the school day. It will help to maintain a good ‘English-speaking atmosphere’ and this will help your learners focus on learning and using the language.
Also, if you give them instructions, ask questions, and make comments in English, the learners will have to listen carefully to what you say all the time. This will keep them thinking in English. You only use a language well when you think in it and don’t have to translate everything in your head before you speak. So it is important, from the early stages of learning, to avoid translation as much as possible and make the learners think in that language. When you use classroom English, you are helping that process.
As well as listening carefully to you, the learners have to do something in response. If you say to a girl ‘Come to the board, please,’ she has to leave her place and move to you. This means that she is both thinking and doing something – in other words, she is an active learner. To learn actively is better and more effective for the learner than learning passively (for example, when learners just sit and listen to the teacher).
Active learning is better because it links words and phrases to actions, objects, ideas, and people in a strong and positive way. This helps the learners learn and remember. When you give an instruction or ask a question in English and the learners do or say something in reply, they quickly realize that they can understand something in English. This gives them a feeling of success and will help improve their confidence. Remember how important a feeling of confidence is when you are learning a language. Feelings of success and confidence will help your learners overcome the difficulties in learning a foreign language. If you keep using the same instructions, questions, and comments, even the weaker learners will begin to understand – and this will help their confidence too.
If you use English more in your classes, it will increase your own confidence as a teacher, because you will see that the learners understand you and that they are learning to use English. You will feel very satisfied when you don’t have to keep changing from English to your own language and back to English again. It will show you that the learners are making progress and that they really are thinking in English. And don’t forget that saying something in English only saves time. To say it in English then to repeat it in your own language takes twice as long.