Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


Date of this Version



Published in MultiTasks, MultiSkills, MultiConnections: Selected Papers from the 2013 Central States Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, ed. Stephanie Dhonau (Eau Clarie, WI: Crown Prints, 2013), pp. 21-38.


Copyright © 2013 Central States Conference on the Teacing of Foreign Languages


This article investigates how target language use can be optimized in the language classroom to enhance language development. Principles and guidelines for integration of the target language are extracted from empirical evidence and best practices demonstrated by teachers who maximize target language. Classroom tested strategies and examples are described and illustrated.

There is much debate about the use of the target language (TL) and first language (L1) in the foreign language classroom. How much TL will maximize language development? When should L1 be used and how often? Language teachers are receiving mixed messages that range from 100% exclusive use of target language to selective integration of L1 to maximize the benefits of codeswitching. This article extracts principles and guidelines for integration of the TL in the language classroom from (a) empirical evidence regarding the use of the TL and L1 in the language classroom, and (b) best practices demonstrated through classroom observations of teachers who maximize L2. In addition, classroomtested strategies and examples designed to optimize and expand L2 use in the classroom are described and illustrated. These examples embody classroom tasks that develop and expand learning skills and build connections between TL and L1 that promote language development.