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100% target language

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by vuvuzela, Oct 4, 2010.

  1. vuvuzela

    vuvuzela Occasional commenter

    Fire a continuous and rapid volley of a language unknown to the inspector, and when she looks back at you, confused, say, "Well, that's how the class feels about 100% target language too." You might get sacked but it would be worth it just to see the expression on the inspector's face and you will get your point across.
  2. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    Like the idea-does get the point across, but fear it would be unwise to actually try it out!
  3. matador

    matador New commenter

    What they learn is far more important ...not my ability to talk to them in French for an hour waving my arms about
  4. spsmith45

    spsmith45 New commenter

    Are you implying that French people wave their arms about a lot?
  5. I think 100% target language is some kind of utopian imagination, but I do think that there would be the possibility of using more TL than teachers in England do (of cours, I haven't seen every teacher teach, but the teachers at my school used significantly less TL than I would have to do in Germany). Of course, it's impossible to explain grammar in the TL in Y7 to 9, but I think from Y10, they should be able to understand the explanation if they have a good English explanation in their books or the teacher provides a good English explanation on the board. By Y12, 100% target language should be possible, if you don't count translations for single words.
  6. matador

    matador New commenter

    er not quite ...
    The implication is more that teachers using TL have to resort to gesture, mime etc - whichever language they are talking in - TL has it's place but not 100 % all of the time ...it is totally depending on the class, ability, time of day, what's being taught etc

    Also with the new GCSE specs listening and reading are now being tested through English so when teaching these skills surely it makes sense to revert to English as and when the teacher feels necessary ...for me no hard and fast rules on percentages on this one
  7. So how do you teach translation skills if you insist on 100% TL?

  8. 100% TL would be great, but I doubt it's very practical. I definitely think the TL should be used as much as possible (certainly at my comprehensive, it was barely used at all up to Year 9 and not much at GCSE or even A-level) but certain things like grammar need to be explained in English for the kids to really understand them. Especially for lower ability and/or unmotivated kids, if you start babbling away at them in the TL, they'll just switch off. So I think teachers should try to use the TL when they can, helped by lots of gestures, mime, pictures etc, but they shouldn't feel bad about clarifying things in English if they need to.
  9. Indeed, but then aren't the kids looking at your gestures and pictures to get what they need to know rather than listening to you?
  10. Incommunicado

    Incommunicado Established commenter

    This is an issue on which bodies such as the Association for Language Learning should be giving a prouncement.
    If the "top brass" of ALL have credibility as experts in the field then they should make a clear statement about THEIR feelings on this matter. They should be making their views clear to OFSTED, and if OFSTED feel differently, then they should be made to explain their stance very clearly if they are found to be at odds with ALL.
  11. Yeah, I think that's the danger, and then their listening skills may not be up to scratch. Maybe you could use the gestures, pictures etc when you first teach them vocab so they can associate the words wth something to help them remember, but then gradually wean them off so they actually have to listen? If you give them a listening test afterwards and collect the marks in, you'll know whether or not it's sunk in anyway and then you can rethink if you need to.
  12. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    I spoke to someone today whose daughter has just started in Yr 7 at an oversubscribed school that is hoping to get an MFL specialism added to its current specialism.
    Her daughter absolutely loves French and has had regular lessons at school since being in the infants. She was really looking forward to MFL at secondary school but after 5 weeks is becoming dejected, and so is her mum.
    1) She will only be doing French for a term before starting German instead for the second term and is worried that she will forget French through lack of use.

    2) The school has a policy of 100% target language. The child, despite years of French, is struggling to understand more than a very basic gist. The mother wonders how the pupils with no French competence are coping.
    The pupils have been taught one sentence in French that allows them to ask for permission to ask a question in English. The daughter says that she would need to use the phrase so often that she would be constantly interrupting the teacher.
    I foresee an enthusiastic pupil dropping MFL at the first opportunity.
    A baby/toddler learns from 100% Mother tongue but MT is surround-sound for all their waking hours and they get individual attention, with lots of body language and repetition to allow them to deduce meaning. They are expected by Health Visitors to be able to speak a handful of words by the age of 18 months.
    That rate of language acquisition is not fast enough for pupils learning an MFL and they do not have 10+ hours per day of MFL immersion. Neither do they have individual attention.
    100% TL should not even be considered untill pupils have the basics. It would even be too much for some KS4 classes, especially the mixed ability ones.
  13. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    Using pictures is all very well when there is no chance of ambiguity but there's so much new vocabulary than cannot be properly introduced pictorially.
    I remember teaching Places In The Town back in 1999. When I tested the Unit after several weeks, I discovered that a significant number of pupils had internalised 'la gare' as 'the train' because the flashcard showed a train beside a station building!
    Pictures are great when teaching a language to a class with no common language but they are used as a poor substitute for a common language.
    Where there is a common language, it should be used! It speeds up MFL acquisition and understanding.
    When I am communicating in an MFL, I dothink pictorially when selecting the language to use. I think linguistically.
    All the effort and class time being put into avoiding English could be better spent explaining language structures and explaining pronunciation rules. In my schooldays, teachers didn't use class time to prectice vocabulary. We learnt new words for homework and knew how to pronounce them because we had been taught how to pronounce each combination of letters. Lessons were for in-depth study.
  14. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    I don't think pictorially ....
  15. Had Ofsted just before the summer hols - very little target language as I did not deem it appropriate for the lesson and got outstanding. Had a language inspector observing. Think it is totally subjective - we are the practioners we have to deal all day and every day with classes and we have to motivate and enthuse.
    Think back to uni days when you would have whole days of lectures in one, two and even three languages - did you pay attention all the time? did you knwo what was going on all the time? how did you feel if you missed one thing?
    Now relate that to some poor student who has thirteen subjects to deal with and is landed with trying to understand the TL from day one - more like a turn off than a turn on!
  16. Jubilee, that is shocking. I really don't understand the thinking behind 100% TL - and your friend's daughter's experience confirms all my suspicions.
    Of course a child is going to pick up its mother tongue by immersion - it has to learn to speak it pretty quickly too if it wants any of its needs fulfilled!
    Am so relieved that it isn't just me - although I still worry that Ofsted will mark me down for it. Guess I will just do TL for the 20 mins they are there, and then teach it so the kids can actually understand afterwards...
  17. spsmith45

    spsmith45 New commenter

    "Also with the new GCSE specs listening and reading are now being tested
    through English so when teaching these skills surely it makes sense to
    revert to English as and when the teacher feels necessary ...for me no
    hard and fast rules on percentages on this one"
    This is a problem with the new assessment system, of course.
    That apart, it is very hard to build an intimate bond with a class using 100% TL. Even with able pupils you lose them too quickly. Bursts of target language are good, but IMHO you need some "release of tension" during lessons. I'm not keen on the echoing technique where you use TL, then instantly translate. That should be used sparingly.
  18. Quite so - what's the point then because everyone knows you are about to explain again.
    On the other hand I often give instructions to an activity in TL and then pick someone to explain in English what we are about to do.That way everyone focusses on the TL and tries to work out as much as they can (after all, they might be called upon to explain) but everybody is still clear on what they have to do.
    By and large I have some lessons where practically everything is conducted in TL - and some lessons where I speak a lot of English. And most lie somewhere in-between. It all depends what I'm doing in the lesson.
    But I have noticed over time that I tend to use a lot more TL with Y7 - the instructions are relatively simple at that stage . By the time you reach a low-ability GCSE group (especially if you still have compulsory GCSE lang. as we do) my experience has been that they need quite a lot of English, or you just lose them.
  19. I don't think you'd lose a low-ability GCSE group if you speak more TL. It works here - Hauptschule (Secondary Modern) pupils would be able to understand a lesson taught in TL as long as it's not a lesson about grammar and they are what would be the lowest-ability GCSE group you could possibly get. It just depends on what kind of teacher they have. If the teacher in Y5 starts using as much TL as possible, they will be able to understand in Y9 (their last year). I think it just depends on training, i.e. on how much TL they hear.
  20. I am not from Britain originally. I was born, raised and educated in Hong Kong.

    I work as a Cantonese tutor in England. I ONLY use Cantonese in class. When my students speak English to me, I just ignore them.

    Think about it this way, would an British teacher in Hong Kong speak Chinese when they are teaching English there? No. How do they do it? I do not know but I do know that very very rarely British people in HK are able to speak, even, a single word in Cantonese.

    PS I use 'Direct method' in class.

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