How to Use the Target Language 90-100%- Part 2

This is part two in a series on how to use the target language 90-100%.  This month we will explore more strategies that facilitate the use of the target language in the classroom.  We will continue to talk about how the components of the lesson plan, classroom management, and tension contribute to that endeavor.

How to Use the Target Language Part Two

If you missed Part One, you can access it here: Target Language Part One

Daily Structures and Routines

How to Stay in the Target Language: Classroom Procedures

TIP # 1

  • Write your lesson plans to include the same daily routines so that, once students become familiar with the structure of the lesson, they will know what you are saying.
  • For example, I always begin with Bell Work, then transition to homework correction, the statement of the learning target, etc.  Here is the template I use for my lesson plans from the student perspective.  I have omitted the learning objective and the items needed because those are for the teacher’s use.   Lesson Plan Template

Preparing Students for 90% to 100% Target Language

TIP # 2

  • In levels one and two, I begin the year by telling students the class will eventually be conducted completely in Spanish and, therefore, we are going to prepare so they will be ready. (They don’t know that, “eventually” means one or two weeks, depending on the level.)
  • Every day or two I repeat that statement. “Remember, you will have to ask me that all in Spanish soon.  How would you say that?”
  • I give them a list of essential words, phrases, and sentences that they will need in order to function in Spanish or French.  I call it, ”Frases útiles”.  After students repeat the vocabulary after me, I tell them to put it on their desks for reference because, from that day on, I will no longer understand anything that is written on that list in English.
  • I test them on the phrases after two weeks.

Here is the  list.

Here is the test.

Student Resistance

TIP # 3

  • I have seen many beginning teachers give up on their goal of conducting the class in the target language because they caved to STUDENT PRESSURE.  “What?  What are you saying? We don’t understand you! Speak English!”
  • Of course, if the teacher is not making the language understandable by using comprehensible input, that is a topic for another blog.
  • Assuming he/she is not speaking over the heads of the students and is skilled in using CI, how does the teacher deal with student resistance while keeping the learning atmosphere light?

How to Use the Target language: Student Resistance

I suggest creating a simulated native-speaker environment.  If students were in another country, they would have to use that country’s language in order to communicate.  When students say something to me that is on the list, or ANYTHING in English, after the specified all-target language date, I say, “¿Cómo?  No entiendo” with a SMILE on my face.

How to Stay in the Target Language: Train yourself first

And I keep teaching. The consequence is that they are unable to communicate their message.  The student inevitably asks a friend, looks it up, or in some way figures out how to convey his/her message in the target language.  It is YOURSELF you must train, not the students.  If you forget to say, “No entiendo”, your inconsistency will guarantee student resistance.

How to Stay in the Target Language 

How to Stay in the Target Language

TIP # 4

I wrote about my favorite strategy for keeping students in the target language in a previous blog.  In case you missed it, here is the link: My Favorite Strategy

Classroom Management – AGAIN?

The rules on the board are NOT the rules.  The rules are the ones you enforce.

My students know that, even though it is written on the poster in the front of the room, “stay in your seats”, that is not really a rule. Because I don’t enforce it.  They know, however, that they must raise their hands to speak because, if they don’t, they will get  a warning, and then, detention.  Every.  Time.


Teach your rules.  Test your rules.  Enforce your rules.  If your classroom does not run smoothly, it will be impossible to conduct the class in the target language.

I spend the first TWO weeks teaching classroom rules and procedures with some curriculum interspersed.


One of the best things I did to increase the target language in my classes was to attend Fred Jones Workshops.   I highly recommend participating in Tools for Teaching Workshops with your colleagues.  I have attended (and facilitated) over ten times:

How to Use the Target Language

Fred Jones Tools for Teaching

In the last newsletter, we talked about how tension keeps students on-task and motivated.  In case you missed it, here is the link: Tension

I promised I’d give you more examples of tension in a lesson.  Experienced teachers can feel the taut, invisible strings connecting them to the students.  When the strings begin to slacken, they know more tension is needed in the lesson.

The Stick Jar and WAIT time are guaranteed to provide tension AND equity with the added bonus of preventing you from calling on the same students repeatedly.

Students write their first names (I prefer they write their Spanish names) on a popsicle stick and hand them in.

How to use the target language: popsicle sticks

I ask a question, pull a popsicle stick out, repeat the question, pause…. OH, the suspense!

Students don’t know whom I going to call on, so all are attentive.  (And quiet so they can hear me speak the target language)

In the next blog, we will continue to discuss strategies to keep the class functioning in the target language.

Christmas Resource

 Las tradiciones navideñas Listening Activity for Spanish Three-AP Spanish

Since it’s Christmas time, you might like to  incorporate some culture into your lesson.  Click on the picture to see the listening activity that discusses how Christmas is celebrated in different Spanish-speaking countries.

The Power of a Good Lesson Plan

  • We have talked about how crafting a good lesson plan with learning targets and tension takes care of a large portion of your classroom management.  But, who likes writing lesson plans?  Confession time.  I despise the intellectual focus required to write them.  But I do it because I have to and I happen to be good at it.  Since I have already created them, you might consider saving yourself the hassle.
  • I pay someone to clean my house.  Priorities.  I hate housecleaning and I’d rather spend my time doing other things.  How much is your time worth?
  • Take a look at some of my popular lesson plans and see if you might want to use them instead of staring at the computer after school until your eyes can’t focus.  Go  home early! Be with your family!

No Prep Subjunctive Lesson Plans and Curriculum

Preterite Imperfect No-Prep Lesson Plans and Curriculum

AP Spanish Lesson Plans for an Entire Year

Spanish Two Lesson Plans and Curriculum for an Entire Year

This short VIDEO will give you an idea of what is included in the Year-Long Lesson Plans:

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In the next newsletter we will talk about peer pressure and its role in motivation as well as other strategies for staying in the target language.

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Showing 4 comments

    Nice Post. Thanks!

    • admin

      You’re welcome! Glad you enjoyed it!

  • Annie Gilliland

    I am unable to see the “Lesson Plan Template” and “Frases útiles [list]” links because they say that I need to request access. When I request access, it tells me that I cannot.

    • Angie Sherbondy

      Hi, Annie: I fixed the broken links. Thank you for letting me know. Angie

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