If you are a language teacher or becoming a language teacher, it is important to understand certain “lingo.” I remember when I was in college, I heard my content specialty professor make reference to and say often the two words “target language.” To be honest, I had NO idea what she meant. I wasn’t sure if “target language” meant words you wanted to use during your teaching? Or perhaps the words that made up the daily objective?
However, NO WORRIES, I am here to help! “Target language” simply refers to the language that you teach, and therefore use with your students. Since I teach Spanish, my target language is Spanish. If you teach French, then your target language is French, and so on.
As language teachers, our #1 priority is to teach as close to 100% in the target language as we possibly can. In secondary classrooms, students sit for approximately 40 minutes in a language classroom. For many students, this could be their only 40 minutes of hearing the target language a day. Therefore, it is imperative that we provide our students with a productive 40 minutes. Forty minutes where they can be fully immersed by listening, speaking, reading, and writing the language.
I teach middle school and can tell you that I only speak to my students in Spanish. Is it frustrating at times when they don’t understand me? DEFINITELY!! But, I power through it until they get it. I’ll be real with you and say that when it comes to explaining tricky grammar concepts I’ll usually switch to English because my #1 goal is for students to LEARN and UNDERSTAND concepts, not be confused when it comes to using the language.
I’m going to provide you with two strategies I use to support my students as I speak in the target language.
Number 1 = Write English Words on the Board as you Speak Spanish! ~ If I’m speaking to my students in Spanish and I don’t want to interrupt my flow and stop to say “¿Qué significa _____?” or ¿Todos entienden la palabra ______?” I will write the word on the board in English and point to the word it as I say it in Spanish. I love using this strategy! It helps me not break from my flow, but also helps students make connections and actually understand what I’m saying!
Number 2 = Classroom Commands Posters! ~ I made these posters to help my students understand the basic classroom commands that I use on a daily basis. These posters are displayed in my classroom in the front of the room. Therefore, whenever I ask my students to “Read the question,” “Listen,” “Sit down,” “Speak with your partner,” “Answer the question,” “Take out the h.w”….(I think you get the point!) they can use these posters as a reference and I can simply point to the poster as I say it in Spanish. The posters come in only Spanish, or Spanish with English translations, so you can change them as the year goes on to adjust to your students’ ability! Do you have any other strategies you use to support your students as you speak in the target language? Comment below and let me know! 🙂