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The use of the target language/second language and the use of the first language: four case studies of German and Spanish teachers in modern foreign language post-primary classrooms in the Republic of Ireland
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University College Cork
The role and importance of teaching a modern foreign language mainly through the target language has been an issue of considerable debate. Current best practice suggests that use of the target language as the principal language of the classroom is an important element in creating an effective learning environment. The pedagogical value of use of the first language is also contested. There has been limited research into these aspects of classroom practice and in particular classroom-based research in post-primary schools. Modern foreign language teachers require research-informed guidelines to support them in their thinking and decision-making around use of the target language and the first language. The purpose of this study is to better understand use of the target language and the first language in the practice of two post-primary teachers of German and two of Spanish. Both a cognitive and a socio-cultural theoretical perspective inform the study. A multiple case study research approach has been selected as it allows for a more detailed consideration of multiple perspectives and use of a range of data sources. Data was collected from classroom observations including Junior Cycle and Senior Cycle classes over two/three days and teacher and pupil semi-structured interviews. Analysis of audio and/or video recordings of classroom interaction, teacher and pupil interview data including some use of audio- and video-stimulated recall, focused on identifying current practice in use of the target language and the first language, the interrelationship between use of the target language as the main language of the classroom and more general target language input and interaction, the importance of contextual factors and the learner perspective. Findings from the analysis were used as a basis to identify key guiding principles for teachers in their use of the target language and the first language and to articulate more general recommendations.
Use of the target language , Use of the first language , Second language teacher education , Second language acquisition
McKeon, J. 2018. The use of the target language/second language and the use of the first language: four case studies of German and Spanish teachers in modern foreign language post-primary classrooms in the Republic of Ireland. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.