L1 scaffolding for international students learning in L2

Mr Titus Ng1

1Monash College, Ringwood North, Australia

Learning challenges faced by international students is widely recognised to be linked to their command of language. Learners with a different first language (L1) encounter additional cognitive burden when required to comprehend and apply new knowledge delivered in their second language (L2). While educators have started introducing the use of L1 in teaching English, which is by far the most common L2, to international students, there has been little extant research on the use of L1 in teaching other subjects delivered in L2. This study focuses on the development of L1 related scaffolds with the aim of lightening the cognitive load of tasks by reducing the demands on learners’ working memory and facilitating cognitive processing. Taking the constructivist approach to learning, which builds on prior knowledge of learners, in this case tapping into their first language and culture, four L1 related in-class scaffolds have been designed to move the students through their zone of proximal development.  Feedback from students have been collected through a survey, and the four scaffolds have been tested in the classrooms that used English (L2) in teaching management to international students at the diploma level. The presentation aims to discuss findings from the survey, lessons from the in-class testing of the scaffolds, and ideas on how institutions and educators can support students through providing L1 scaffolding.


Titus is a management teacher with Monash College in Melbourne. He has previously taught with the University of Melbourne, RMIT, Swinburne Online, and the National University of Singapore. He has an MBA from the University of Melbourne and is currently completing his PhD with RMIT. Prior to academia, he worked as a management consultant in Singapore, and has consulted for many organisations across Asia. He has worked in China for several years, is effectively bilingual, having taught in both in English and Mandarin Chinese, and is passionate in developing learning strategies for international learners.


The Australian and New Zealand Student Services Association Inc. (ANZSSA) is a professional association for people with an interest in the role of support services in post secondary education.

For more information, please visit ANZSSA website by anzssa.com.


ISANA International Education Association is the representative body for professionals in Australia and New Zealand who work in international student services, advocacy, teaching and policy development in international education.

For more information, please visit the ISANA website at www.isana.org.au.

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