Why is it necessary to teach a language in the target language ?
There are several theories about the way of teaching foreign languages. Using the native language of the students seems to be comfortable for everyone. Indeed, the teacher is sure that everybody understands and the students cannot be totally lost and confused. But using the native language shouldn’t last and shouldn’t be part of your way of teaching a foreign language. When your students are total beginners, using the native language from time to time can be necessary to guide them in their discovery, but after a few classes, the teacher should only speak in the target language and be creative because being in an authentic situation of communication is the best to be trained for real life!
Being totally immersed in the target language has a lot of advantages.
First, the students can live the challenges that they would face in the country where they speak the target language. Consequently, they will have to find strategies of communication and will have the possibility to live the pleasures and the uncomfortable situations that they would live in real life.
Second, the students are more stimulated when they know that they need to try to understand everything to be able to participate in the target language. So the language class does not look like any other class. It’s less boring and it’s challenging.
Third, being immersed helps the students get more communication skills quickly. Indeed, their brain will think in the foreign language more naturally and it will help them communicate in a more efficient way (without translating).
Fourth, when everybody must speak the same language in the classroom, everybody is in the same situation. In other words, everybody is making efforts. It can create a certain solidarity between the students, which is very positive for the atmosphere in the classroom.
Fifth, speaking the target language all the time using authentic documents can help your students understand the foreign linguistic system and the foreign culture more easily. It’s important to help them become more open-minded. Open-mindedness is essential to be tolerant.
Sixth, when your students are English-speakers, total immersion in the foreign language is better because they cannot escape from an uncomfortable situation using their native language.
On the other hand, from time to time, when you choose the moment, it is fundamental to give a chance to your students to express themselves in their native language about what they can reflect about the differences and similarities between the linguistic systems and cultures. But these discussions should be limited in time and you must be clear about the fact that it is a special moment to help them be aware of more things in their learning. Then, when you start speaking the target language again, it must be clear for everyone that it must be the lingua franca of the classroom again.
As a conclusion, teaching in the target language will help your students be better from a linguistic and cultural point of view and more efficient in less time. Independence in communication is what everybody wants that’s why the native language of the students should be left at the door of the classroom.