Quick Tips: 4 Ideas For Getting Students To Use The Target Language

  1. Opening the classroom window on a very cold day.
  2. Being the only one eating a delicious cupcake/candy bar in front of the students.
  3. Starting the lesson while wearing only one shoe.
  4. Intentionally making an obvious mistake in front of the students.

Doing this creates situations in which generally everyone wants to say the same thing. It gives students something that they’d like to say, and the only thing the teacher has to do is give them the L2 words. (See this blog post for more information on leveraging *Constructed Situational Input.)

1- Open window: Students start to shiver and bring their extremities closer to their core. They look around to confirm that others are noticing that the temperature in the room is unreasonably cold. Some start gesturing for the window to be closed. When all students are bursting with a desire to say, “Teacher, it’s cold! Close the window!” use the Two-Hand Method to help them say it in L2.

2- Teacher eats the treat: Students start salivating. Their eyes get big. Their expressions start saying, “Hey! This is not fair. Why do YOU get to eat in class and why are you NOT sharing your delicious treat with us!?” When the time is right, and all students want to eat your treat, write some L2 phrases/sentences on the board to help them say some of the following phrases in L2:

  • “I want some!”
  • “How about me!? Can I eat some!?”
  • “That’s not fair! I want some!”

3- Only one shoe: Students raise their eyebrows and think, “This teacher is a lunatic! Why in the world is he wearing only one shoe!?” When the entire class has noticed, give them the L2 words to say things like:

  • “Teacher! Look! Your shoe!”
  • “You are only wearing one shoe!”
  • “That smells bad!”

4- Making an obvious mistake: Who doesn’t like correcting their teacher? Help your students participate in a conversation that’s led like this:

  • “Oh, I’m NOT right? Oh. Okay, so this pencil is NOT my pencil? This pencil is YOUR pencil? Oh okay. I’m sorry. This pencil is NOT my pencil, this pencil is YOUR pencil. Thank you.”

Note #1: Within a formal academic program, scenarios like these should not take the place of curriculum goals and daily performance objectives. They should be additional enrichment pieces provided when time allows.

Note #2: These scenarios increase a student’s internal motivation to speak. There are many other ways to increase both internal and external motivations to speak. Click here and here for other blog posts on this topic.


*Disclaimer: This term is my own and I’m using it for the purpose of reflecting on my own foreign language teaching practice.  The reader should not assume that it’s the term found in formal, academic writing.

See what others are saying about Tuesday’s Tips For Staying In The Target Language.

Señor Howard

Señor Howard – www.SenorHoward.com/blog – @HolaSrHoward

Caleb Howard – www.SoMuchHope.com – @calhwrd

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  1. Pingback: Brillante Viernes: January 15, 2016 | Maris Hawkins

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