Strategies for maximising target
in our classes
Miles Turnbull, Ph.D.
AFMLTA in Sydney – July 11, 2009
• MAXIMIZE TL use! (teachers and
• The teacher is the model!
• L1 can be useful sometimes!And natural!
• Maximized L2 use is not easy for
teachers or students
More on my philosophy
• Language is an important thinking
• To learn language you have to use it
• L1 for L2 learners is a powerful tool
to figure things out and to think
through difficult content/tasks
• Bilinguals codeswitch naturally!
I am NOT talking about
passing out a license to
use the L1!
Focus on Teachers: What
Does Research Say?
• Studies show that the more students
hear and read the TL, the better their
• When teachers use the TL more,
students report being more
motivated to continue learning the
• When teachers overuse the L1,
students report being demotivated
More Research Findings
• Observation studies have shown that
teachers vary in terms of the quantity
and quality of TL used
• Context, teachers’ personalities,
confidence levels seem to be the
factors that influence teachers’ TL
use the most
Why Do Teachers Tend to
Use the L1?
• Comparing L1 and TL
• Grammar teaching
• Social interactions with students
• Clarifying instructions
Teachers’ Beliefs About TL
and L1 Use
• Teachers agree that TL use is
• It is tough to use TL all the time
• Past experiences seem to affect
teachers’ TL use…especially new
Focus on Students: What Does
the Research Say?
• “Kids’ speak”
• Understand the demands
• Make sense of activity
• Sustain interaction
• Natural phenomenon; however,...
• L1 may diminish in tasks over time
• A necessary evil?
Maximising TL Use: Teachers
• Start firm and stick to your guns!
• Use examples that relate to students'
life experiences and
• Point to or show real objects
• Show or draw pictures
Sources for Pictures
• Picture files…..students can help!
• Clip art - “www.caslt.org”
• Illustrated vocabulary books
More Practical Ideas
• Use gestures, mime, facial
• Speak clearly and a bit slowly at first,
increasing speed gradually to normal
• Use intonation to emphasize key
• Repeat more than once...vary
• Use synonyms, antonyms,
paraphrasing and simplification
Other Important Strategies
• Help your students understand that
it’s ok if they don’t understand
EVERY word they hear or read
• Encourage guessing
When and How to Use the
L1 Effectively: For teachers
• Use your students’ voices
• Ask your students' permission to
speak the L1 and ask them to ask
your permission to do so as well
• Point out cognates
When Teachers Feel They
MUST Switch to the L1
• Do not translate word for word
• Do not switch to L1 immediately
• Wait for at least 30 seconds
• Translate only key words at first….
More on L1 Use
• Use the L1 when you can see that a
student is truly frustrated
• Use the L1 after trying every strategy
in the book - Be brief then switch
back to the TL
• Use the L1 to make a comparison
between L1 and TL
Other Uses for L1
• Use the L1 for serious or exceptional
• Use the L1 in emergencies
Maximizing TL Use: Students
• Let’s not dream in technicolor!
• Provide and practice common
• Allow multiple opportunities
• Start short, quick, and then build
• Use clear models, especially for pair
and group work
Maximizing Student TL Use
• Provide needed vocabulary and
structures for a given task
• Provide clear TASK with an outcome
• Model for students--use video!
• Listen and understand
Students’ Use of L1
• Acknowledge effort and success!
• Advanced students should be
expected to speak TL more, if not
Strategies for Maximizing
Student L2 Use In Groups
• Concrete and structured activities
• Pre-activity and models
• Give explicit time frame for task,
• not too much time!
• Distribution of specific roles
• Recognize and reward use of TL