Teaching secondary modern foreign languages
Teaching secondary modern foreign languages

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2.2 Using target language to support all students in learning a language

Depending on your school context and amount of school experience, you may have come across a variety of different approaches to using the target language in the classroom, but what are some of the benefits of using target language as the main means of communication in the classroom? Some of the benefits include promoting independent learning, encouraging student talk as well as providing a unique context for students with English as an additional language.

Consider firstly, the role of target language in supporting students with English as an addition language (EAL). Using target language puts these students on a level footing with their fellow students due to the absence of English as the medium of instruction. Teaching strategies using target language which support all students including those EAL include:

  • providing visual support to enable students to conceptualise information and learning tasks
  • modelling a task, particularly pair and group work tasks
  • providing examples of written work
  • providing frameworks for writing and speaking
  • introducing key vocabulary and phrases in spoken or written texts before students hear or read these
  • using oral ‘rehearsal’ of written tasks in order to focus students’ attention on the language required.

You may well have already begun to use some of these strategies in your own teaching. You may also have experienced that it is not always easy to remain in the target language to communicate with students throughout the whole lesson.

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