The target language revisited

Gary Chambers led a one year research project (2010-11) on use of the target language (ie. French, German, Spanish) by trainee teachers of MFL on the Postgraduate Certificate of Education (PGCE) at the University of Leeds.

It built on some of the work done by researchers in the early 90s on the same topic. Although the project was small-scale, the data collected proved to be rich and the findings evoked considerable interest in the MFL teaching population in the region.

By means of semi-structured interviews with trainee and practising teachers, focus groups and observation of lessons and lesson feedback discussions, the following research questions were addressed.

  • What level of subject knowledge competence and confidence do trainees bring to their teaching?
  • How much TL do they use in their lessons?
  • For what purposes do they use the TL in their lessons?
  • How skilled are they in using the TL in their lessons?
  • Do trainees consider TL use as part of their preparation and planning?
  • What are the factors which impact on the amount of TL they use in lessons?

The research outcomes were disseminated at a conference entitled, “The target language re-visited: use of the target language by trainee teachers on school-placements”, held at the University of Leeds on 24 June 2011. This was aimed at teachers from the region. The conference was then followed by the publication of Chambers, G. N., “The Target Language Revisited”, in Teaching and Teacher Education, pp. 44-54 DOI information: 10.1016/j.tate.2013.07.003., 2013.