CILT ITE Conference Secondary MFL – Target Language

28 Nov

Last Saturday I spent a great day at the national centre for languages (CILT) at my first ever ITE conference.

The opening address was from a very animated, engaging and well informed lady, Ann Swarbrick.

She made reference to the Languages Review and said, quite unashamedly that she is proud of the fact that languages are seen to be HARD.  HARD is FUN in her eyes! You have to be disciplined.  It’s a challenge.  You can see immediately why I warmed to her so much!


With reference to Target Language (the main theme of the day), she stated that potentially the fears that some Primary teachers have about TL teaching are the same as those of some secondary colleagues.


Reasons for not using much TL could include:

-getting it wrong

-fear of criticism

-fear of being corrected

-fear of being out of control

-losing warm relationships / rapport

-need for collegial working and time to do it


All the above are legitimate fears.


Our job in ITE is:

-to get mentors on board

-to help trainees to deconstruct the process

-to correctly interpret ever changing initiatives / documentation

-to keep tabs on ex trainees to see what happens to TL once they ‘fly the university nest’.


The view of many trainees is

‘I see what you mean, I believe you BUT I don’t see TL use in my school.  It’s difficult for me to establish a different way of working when everybody around me is teaching in English.’

Trainees are strategically thinking about who is assessing them at ground level i.e. school based mentors.

Trainees come into ITE with a belief system that is personal to them.  A trainer from Leeds University, Amanda Deacon, said that she had conducted a survey of beliefs with her trainees and uncovered all sorts of interesting things!

Here is a link to ‘An inventory of teacher perspectives’, PRATTS 


On the CILT website, hidden away behind various layers and tabs are some videos about spontaneous talk.  They can be found if you follow this trail:

>Secondary >14-19 >Teaching Strategies > TL > Case Studies > Spontaneous Talk


The video could be a good starting point for a departmental discussion on use of TL.


Below are the notes I took over the course of the day – if anything requires further explanation please do get in touch by leaving me a comment below.


If you are reading this post from outside the UK I would be particularly keen to hear from you as I think it would be very interesting to see what the TL approach is elsewhere.








One Response to “CILT ITE Conference Secondary MFL – Target Language”

  1. Meg Chance November 29, 2010 at 1:36 pm #

    Hello! I’ve just been researching Group Talk and recently saw some inspiring videos on TeacherTV. I am a high school French teacher in the states and getting my students to SPEAK is sooo difficult! They are so hesitant and lack the confidence because they are afraid of making a mistake. I am always searching for fun ways to get them to use the language in and out of the classroom. I try to use as much TL in the classroom as I can, but I know I should always use more.

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