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Advice needed - starting to use (much!) more target language late in the year

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by redheadrover, Apr 5, 2019.

  1. redheadrover

    redheadrover New commenter

    Question here for modern language teachers. I am an NQT German and French teacher. I have now more or less passed probation year and am.lucky to have secured a job at the same school for next year.

    However, I have had such a shock and hard time managing behaviour this year, and still am, to the extent that I probably run 90% or more of my lessons in the L1, English, and feel like a complete failure. I have no theoretical issues with teaching almost everything in the L2, and having the L2 as the classroom language and I am convinced it is the best and and most engaging way to teach languages, and it is how I dream of being able to teach. But I have just found it so hard to do on top of behaviour, and I am happy if I have kept my pupils not sceaming for a lesson.

    Now I fear it is too late to start using L2 as the kids aren’t used to it, and even if I make a fresh start next year it will still be a shock to any pupils I have already taught.

    Has anyone been in a similar situation, and can anyone offer tips on how to begin to begin to introduce more target language to lessons?

    I have bought a book to read to help me with this, but am feeling a little daunted and depressed as I start to read it!

    Thanks all!
  2. MissCleo

    MissCleo New commenter

    You could try to do a gradual change where you add in a little more of the target language each time. What kind of vocabulary are you currently incorporating?

    An idea could be to perhaps start with some basic instructions, like sit/stand/write and then moving on slowly to more advanced uses. This way it might not be as much of a shock for the students as it will not be a sudden change. If you start now, it would also mean that by next year, your current students will be used to hearing more of the target language and if you decide to use this as the main language of instructions next year it will be less of a shock to them.

    Good luck!
    agathamorse and bonxie like this.
  3. cathr

    cathr Occasional commenter

    We must live in a different world! The students I teach don't understand instructions in English.....
    profdefrancais007 likes this.
  4. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    Take the register in the target language after giving them a selection of responses (here, present, greetings, s/he's not here/is absent/is ill etc).
    Have a few minutes after the register when you do a Q&A of general things like the weather that day, asking what day and date it is, asking how they are doing etc.
    If re-seating a pupil, do it in target language with gestures to make your meaning clear. Keep to a small range of words and phrases that will eventually become known to them (Move here please. Now! Hurry up! Stand up now and sit here!).

    If a pupil is late to the lesson, ask them why in the target language. They find it difficult and will minimise a re-occurence! The whole class will evetually hav elearnt the words for You are late/Why are you late?

    These routines soon get established and become a ready-planned 5 minutes or so of every lesson. Words and phrases, once absorbed, can then be used in other contexts too.
  5. lentils22

    lentils22 New commenter

    As others have already said, using TL for classroom routines - like greetings, taking the register or writing the date on the board - is a good place to start. You could also maybe aim to give some of your instructions very clearly and simply in the TL, backing up what you're saying with mimes, gestures, demonstrations, written support on WB, worked examples etc. It can also help to ask for a student to translate what you've said for the rest of the class; this turns listening to and decoding the instruction into a challenge (especially if they are rewarded with a merit etc.) and also ensures that everyone has understood so they don't have grounds for claiming they don't know what to do so they're not going to attempt the task!
  6. rosaespanola

    rosaespanola New commenter

    I've tricked a great many reluctant and disengaged classes into using the target language (or at least coping with me using it) by having a deal that if we play a game then it has to be in the TL. It's all about how you present it - try having a 10 minute "target language challenge" at the end where you play a game and you only use the TL. Start with a game you've played before so they're familiar with it, but explain the rules in the TL with plenty of miming and cognates/familiar vocab, then do all of the things like "it's your turn" and so on in TL - maybe show key phrases you'll use on the board, or give them a list to stick in their books of things you'll say and things they could say (they love to say that someone is cheating, for example, or tell someone to hurry up). They'll enjoy this and will want to play games in other lessons, so you'll find that in effect, they're asking to do things where the TL is used. After a while, you'll be able to sneak it into other parts of the lesson and you'll find the pupils much more receptive to it. Good luck!

    Another thing I've done is to have a laminated card on each table that says "TRANSLATOR" in the TL. When I'm giving instructions, I'll pause every so often and any pupil who has understood can hold up the card and translate what I've said into English, which earns them some kind of reward (house points etc). This keeps them engaged and even the more reluctant ones like to earn rewards :)
    senoritavava likes this.

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