Atkinson (1987: 241-247) offers a list of nine reasons for using L1 in the EFL classroom:
1. Eliciting Language
“How do you say ‘X’ in English?”
2. Checking comprehension
“How do you say ‘I’ve been waiting for ten minutes in Spanish?”
3. Giving complex instructions to basic levels
4. Co-operating in groups
Learners compare and correct answers to exercises or tasks in the L1.
5. Explaining classroom methodology at basic levels
6. Using translation to highlight a recently taught language item
7. Checking for sense
If students write or say something in the L2 that does not make sense, have them try to translate it into the L1 to realize their error.
Translation items can be useful in testing mastery of forms and meanings.
9. Developing circumlocution strategies.
When students do not know how to say something in the L2, have them think if (sic) different ways to say the same thing in the L1, which may be easier to translate.