My ‘TL’ Story (Part 1): Why I Didn’t Use The Target Language

From 2004 to 2012 I found it very difficult to stay in the target language.  In the classroom I was creative, strict, and entertaining.  However, my target language use was limited to 5%-25% of class time. (see video example)

Any TL (target language) I did use was generally…

  • …during a beginning of the class routine.
  • …isolated phrases throughout the lesson.
  • …lyrics to a song.

Most of my directions to the class were always given in English.  I would feel guilty about not using more of the TL.  I knew my supervisors would expect it.  I assumed my colleagues would disapprove of me if they saw how little I used the target language.  When I knew a formal observation was approaching I’d try to use more of the TL so the students wouldn’t be so ‘thrown off’ if I started only speaking in the TL when my supervisor was in the room.

Why didn’t I use the target language during at least 90% of my instructional time?

  • I was afraid of the students misbehaving.
  • I was afraid of students giving up and calling out, “I don’t understand a word of what you’re saying.”
  • I felt like I could cover material faster if I spoke mostly in English.  (And there was a lot of material to cover)
  • Whenever I asked another teacher “how do you effectively manage behavior AND stay in the target language?,” I felt like I never got a satisfying answer.
  • etc

How about you?  Why do you find it challenging to use the TL in the foreign language classroom?  Leave comments below.

Señor Howard –

My ‘TL’ Story (Part 1): Why I Didn’t Use The Target Language

My ‘TL’ Story (Part 2): Negative Affects Of L1 Use

My ‘TL’ Story (Part 3): Inspiration To Start Teaching In The Target Language

My ‘TL’ Story (Part 4): SUCCESS – Transition To 90+% Was Easier Than I Thought