TL Instruction - University of Wisconsin

Sheila Turek, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of French
August 6, 2014
Teaching in the Target
Language: Benefits,
Challenges, Strategies
Target Language use in the classroom and
language input has been identified
as the overarching concept that permeates
all second language acquisition theory
(ACTFL, 2010; Burke, 2010; Chavez, 2006;
Gass, 1997; Lightbown, 2000; Lightbown &
Spada, 2006; Shrum & Glisan, 2010; Wilbur,
2007).” (Ceo-DiFrancesco 1)
students to significant amounts
of comprehensible input has proven to be
crucial to the development of student
proficiency and essential for the
establishment of mental linguistic
representations of the language (CeoDiFrancesco 1)
+ ACTFL Position Statement on Use of the
Target Language in the Classroom
Research indicates that effective language instruction must
provide significant levels of meaningful communication and
interactive feedback in the TL in order for students to
develop language and cultural proficiency.
The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages
(ACTFL) therefore recommends that language educators and
their students use the target language as exclusively as
possible (90% plus) at all levels of instructional time and,
when feasible, beyond the classroom.
Theory vs. Practice
the case of target language use in
the world language classroom . . .
[t]here is a tension between policy,
research, and practice” (Ceo Di
Francesco 2), and teachers have
difficulty achieving the 90% goal.
What do you see as the biggest challenges to teaching
in the target language?
+ Challenges
Typical concerns:
 student
 too
 not
enough time
(Crouse, “How to Stay in the Target Language,” 23)
Self-Reported Obstacles to TL
Usage in the Classroom
 Obstacles
Beyond Teacher Control
 Obstacles
Involving Student Factors
 Obstacles
Involving Teaching Training
(Based on a survey of 237 instructors: 11.8% university instructors,
74.3% high school, 19.4% middle school, 9.7% elementary school,
representing 7 languages: Arabic, Chinese, French, German,
Italian, Japanese, and Spanish. Ceo-DiFrancesco, D. (2013)).
Obstacles Beyond Teacher
(* Self-reported obstacles by teachers responding to a survey conducted by Diane CeoDiFrancesco, “Instructor Target Language Use,” 5).
Obstacles Involving Student
(Ceo-DiFrancesco 5).
Obstacles Involving Teaching
(Ceo-DiFrancesco 5).
Dangers of using English for
“important” information: the “blah
blah Ginger” syndrome
(Gary Larson, The Far Side)
What strategies do you use to get students speaking
the target language? Discuss in groups of three.
+ Strategies Suggested by ACTFL to
Facilitate Comprehension (1)
 provide
comprehensible input that is directed
toward communicative goals;
 make
meaning clear through body language,
gestures, and visual support;
 conduct
comprehension checks to ensure
 negotiate
meaning with students and encourage
negotiation among students;
+ Strategies Suggested by ACTFL to
Facilitate Comprehension (2)
 elicit
talk that increases in fluency, accuracy, and
complexity over time;
 encourage
self-expression and spontaneous use of
 teach
students strategies for requesting
clarification and assistance when faced with
comprehension difficulties; and
 offer
feedback to assist and improve students’
ability to interact orally in the target language.
+ Other strategies**
 Explain
importance of staying in TL to class at
the beginning of the year; follow up with
motivational chats and reward students when
they use the TL;
 Plan
lessons so as to eliminate idle time, which
can lead students to chat in English;
 Change
seating often so students pair with
different classmates
(**Culled from blogs, online discussion lists, and previous issues of
Language Educator : Crouse 27)
+ Other strategies
 Design
info gap activities in a way that
students must use the TL to obtain missing
 Post
high-frequency phrases around the
class that students can use if they get stuck;
 When
students speak to you in English, give
a quizzical look and say you don’t
(Crouse 27)
+ Other strategies
 Use
activities such as inside-outside circles
that allow students to practice common
expressions and structures in rapid sequence.
 Try
a reward system in which students can
earn points for maintaining the TL.
 Encourage
students to come up with silly
stories as part of a survey or TPRS activities.
(Crouse 27)
Making Input Comprehensible
Sensorial Supports
•Graphic organizers
•Slower than normal
•Purposeful pauses
•Slowed speech for
•Key word emphasis
•Facial expressions
•Context clues
Fortune, Tara. ACTFL Webinar 2012, cited in Terrill, L.
Using visuals for grammar
explanations: a mini-example
Les adjectifs
S’accordent en genre : masculin
ou féminin
et en nombre : (singulier/pluriel) avec les noms :
Les étudiantes intelligentes. (féminin, pluriel)
L’étudiant intelligent. (masculin, singulier)
(follow up with exercises, examples, group activity)
What specific assignments or activities do you use/plan
to use in your own classroom to achieve the 90% goal?
ACTFL. (2014). Position Statement: Use of the Target Language in the Classroom. Accessed on 20th July Web.
20 July 2014.
Ceo-DiFrancesco, D. (2013). Instructor Target Language Use in Today’s World Language Classrooms.
MultiTasks, MultiSkills, MultiConnections: CSCTFL Reports, 1-19.
Chambers, G.N. (2013). The Target Language Revisited. Teaching and Teacher Education 36: 44-54.
Crouse, D. (2012). Going for 90% Plus: How to Stay in the Target Language. The Language Educator 7, 2225.
Dickson, P. (1996). Using the Target Language: A View From the Classroom. Slough: NFER.
Glisan, E. (2013). On Keeping the Target Language in Language Teaching: A Bottom-up Effort to Protect
the Public and Students. The Modem Language Joumal 97:2, 541-44.
Granville, P. (2008). Entering an English Free Zone. Learning Languages 8:1, 9-12.
Terrill, Laura. Maintaining Target Language in the Classroom.
Accessed on 30 July 2014.
Viakinnou-Brinson, L., Herron, C., Cole, S.P., and Haight, C. (2012). The Effect of Target Language and
Code-Switching on the Grammatical Performance and Perceptions of Elementary-Level College French
Students.” Foreign Language Annals 45:1, 72-91.

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