FLAs on-line 1
Staying in the target language – GCSE level
Language teachers in the UK talk about target language a lot.
Target language is the language that they teaching and the one the students are learning.
Language teachers try to use the target language as much as possible and you can too.
Preparing to use the target language
Often you will observe lessons before you start teaching your own small groups. When you do this, note the instructions teachers use. Teachers are usually very consistent in the phrases they employ. The language you hear is therefore language that the pupils will be familiar with and you should try to use it consistently in your lessons too.
If the teacher is using English, is s/he doing so for a particular reason?
Identify which target language phrases the teacher uses to praise pupils. Note these and try to use them in your lessons.
Ask if your department has a target language policy with a list of instructions to which you could refer.
Perhaps your school uses pictures (flashcards) that illustrate the target language so that pupils understand what they are being asked to do. Are these displayed in classrooms? If so, why not make your own set for your lessons with a translation on the back? You can turn them over if pupils are having difficulty understanding what you are asking them to do.
Teaching in the target language
Some pupils will be used to a French only, German only, Spanish only environment –
others will not. Try to stay in your own language as far as possible. You will be mainly practising and reinforcing language, not introducing it so your pupils should understand a lot of what’s going on. Reinforce what you are saying with mimes and gestures – put
your hand to your ear for ‘listen’, turn your hand round for ‘repeat’, pretend to write for ‘write’. You may have seen teachers in your department using such techniques. You may need to slow down a little bit when you speak, but be natural. Pupils will have to cope with native speaker speed when they visit the target language speaking country and you have a very valuable role to play here in preparing them for this experience.
Try to simplify the language that you use. Always use the same classroom instructions and use visual aids to support meaning wherever possible.
Use text to support your words. Write words on the board that may help pupils with meaning.
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Always try to reply in your language even if pupils are speaking to you in English. Explain why you’re doing this –‘you’re here to learn French, Spanish, German and my
job is to help you with that.’
Introduce some competition into your lessons.
Divide pupils into teams and give each team a number of points.
Explain that teams will lose points if they speak in English rather than in the target language.
Or turn it the other way round and introduce a points chart/ merit marks for good use of the target language.
Find alternative ways of saying things, but try not to complicate matters.
To get to know your students and for them to get to know you it may be tempting to speak in English.
Try to keep those conversations in the target language too.
Remember too that a smile says a lot in any language!
Updated January 2009 | 2