Designing Lessons with Target-Language use in Mind


ETAP 623 FALL 2015 - BYRNE section 5874
Dana Gaska's Portfolio Page

Why Take this Mini-Course?

Are you a LOTE teacher? Do you go into your lessons with the idea of speaking the target language for the majority of class time, but end up speaking too much English? This mini-course is to help LOTE (languages other than English) teachers plan their lessons with target language use in mind. It will help you determine what is holding you back from reaching the target language goals that you have for your classroom. In this mini-course, we will look at misconceptions about target language use in the classroom, strategies for using the target language, and obstacles you may encounter.

How This Course Works

This course is intended to be an independent study for teachers of a language other than English, and will allow teachers to understand more about target language use in their classroom. Each unit consists of learning activities, guided reflections, and allows teachers to work on a design project modifying one of their previously used lessons, or creating a new lesson with the goal of 90% target language use.


  • Participants must have a computer with ability to play video
  • Participants must be able to design a lesson plan
  • It is recommended that participants are in-service LOTE teachers

Needs Assessment

The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) has recommended that teachers of foreign language use the target language for at least 90% of instruction. According to research (LeLoup, J. W., Ponterio, R., & Warford, M. K., 2013) however, many educators struggle to reach this level of target language use in the classroom. There are a myriad of reasons for the gap in expectations and reality. Most teachers are aware of ACTFL’s recommendations and the research that points to the use of target language being important, but they are hindered by misconceptions and lack of specific training in the topic.

Target Learners

This course is intended for foreign language instructors at the secondary level, however foreign language teachers at any level may find the information to be useful.

Performance Objectives

At the end of this course participants will be able to:

  • Identify several misconceptions to target language use in the classroom
  • Identify several strategies teachers can use to increase target language use
  • Evaluate a lesson for use of the target language and presence of effective TL use strategies
  • Troubleshoot issues related to target language use in the classroom
  • Design a short activity with emphasis on target language use

Course Units

This mini-course includes the following units. Click the title of a unit to go to its page.

Unit 1: Assumptions and Misconceptions-Laying the Groundwork

In the first unit we will take a look at what some of the common beliefs about target use in the language classroom are.


  • Identify personal beliefs about TL use
  • Understand common misconceptions about TL use
  • Reflect on their own classroom practices


  • Take a short quiz on misconceptions about TL use to determine if they personally hold beliefs that inhibit successful TL use in the classroom.
  • Read an article about resistance to TL use in the classroom.
  • Create a journal entry reflecting on current classroom practices.
  • Choose a previously used lesson to re-work

Unit 2: Strategies for Target Language use

Unit 2 looks at strategies that LOTE teachers can use in their classroom to keep instruction in the TL.


  • Identify strategies to stay in the TL
  • Define “circumlocution” and “comprehensible input” and “inductive grammar instruction”
  • Integrate strategies to stay in the TL into lesson design


  • Evaluate a lesson taught by another teacher to determine the quality of TL use and the strategies that were effective.
  • Reflect on readings/videos about strategies in relation to your own classroom practice
  • Design a lesson, or update one, to incorporate strategies learned.

Unit 3: Comprehensible Input

What use is speaking in the target language if your student's can't understand it? This unit focuses on Comprehensible Input (CI) and Krashen's theory of i+1.


  • Understand Krashen’s theory of comprehensible input (CI)
  • Understand and explain the theory “ i+1”
  • Identify strategies for CI
  • Evaluate a lesson for presence of CI


  • Read an article on Krashen’s theories and reflect on your own language learning experiences
  • Watch a video of a lesson and use a checklist to determine the quality of CI provided to students
  • Re-design lesson to incorporate opportunities to provide CI

References and Extended Resources

1. Crous, D. (2012. October) Going for 90% Plus: Keeping it in the Target Language. The Language Educator, 22-27. Retrieved from:

2. Donato, R., & Smith, M. [Word Document] STARTALK Comprehensible Input Checklist. Retrieved from

3. Krashen, S. (1982). Principles and Practice in Second Language Acquisition. Oxford: Pergamon Press.

4. LeLoup, J. W., Ponterio, R., & Warford, M. K. (2013). Overcoming resistance to 90% target language use: Rationale, challenges, and suggestions. NECTFL Review, (72), 45-60.

5. Moeller, A., Roberts, A. (2013) Keeping it in the Target Language. MultiTasks, MultiSkills, MultiConnections. Faculty Publications: Department of Teaching, Learning and Education. Paper 178.

6. Strategies to Make Content Comprehensible: Retrieved from

7. Thompson, G., Harrison, K. (2014). Language Use in the Foreign Language Classroom. Foreign Language Annals, 47(3), 321-337.

8. Wong-Fillmore, L. (1985). Second language learning in children: A propose model. In R. Eshch & J. Provinzano (Eds.) Issues in English development. Rosslyn, VA National Clearinghouse for Bilingual Education.