Hilary McColl, owner of this website, and Susan Thomas of MLG Publishing fervently believe that empowering learners to use the target language for immediate, practical communicative purposes in the classroom is a vital component of successful language learning. Teachers tend to agree that such a policy is needed, but putting it into practice often proves difficult, for various reasons, and enthusiasm wanes. Before finally retiring, Hilary and Susan have attempted to combine all their resources to provide materials and suggestions for overcoming some of these difficulties. We hope the ideas and resources will be helpful anyone who teaches a language, shares our convictions but doesn't know where to start.

This website provides the opportunity for us to contribute to the national discussion about using the target language in class. It will also allow us to add further materials as the work develops. We hope that visitors to the page will feel they can contribute to the additional language lists we plan to add here in due course.

Details of our earlier work to support increasing use of the target language generally can be found here:


Hilary McColl and Susan Thomas gave a seminar entitled Developing Classroom Language at the SALT Conference in Glasgow on Saturday November 7th, 2015. Here is the first of the PowerPoint presentations and the associated handout and survey.

If you have questions, comments or news, or if you would like to trial materials for us, or if you can return a completed survey sheet, please contact us by email at

If you spoke to Susan after the seminar about being willing to trial materials, please email us. Your details disappeared in the changeover...

It occured to us that the coloured sheets you filled in during the seminar could provide a starting point for the first draft of your classroom language syllabus! We've collated them below.

Other materials from the event will appear here over the next few days.

Download Presentation 1 (PPTX) (TIP: If you print out as 'notes' you will see frames and commentary.)

Download Presentation 2 (PPT)

Download Handout 1 (PDF)

Download Handout 2 (PDF)

Download Survey (PDF)

Download Survey (Word doc.)

Download Starting Points? (PDF)

If you haven't come across Hilary's 5-stage cycle before, this will save you looking for it. It includes a bit on making a distinction between practice language and real language: Structuring learning (PDF)

My final point at the SALT Seminar was about recording language learned. Compiling an aide-mémoire has proved a useful way of doing this. Making an aide-mémoire (PDF)

A version of the points we made at the SALT seminar was subsequently written up and later published by SCILT in the Scottish Languages Review & Digest. Here's a copy of the pre-publication article:

Increasing Classrooom Language as a First Step towards Communicative Competence


It is our intention to use this website to recycle some of the materials we produced in earlier publications. We will also start to make collections of useful vocabulary that may be hard to find in dictionaries or in other collections of 'classroom language'. Sometimes we will be able to add some pictures, sometimes not. If you can contribute, please contact us!


PowerPoint: Understanding instructions in French

Exclamations - French PDF

REGISTRATION: We made, but eventually didn't publish, PowerPoint presentations in several languages for teaching and practising registration routines for developing use of TL. They need a page to themselves, so click here.

Poster for target practice!

Coping with language difficulties - French PDF

Using mime and gesture - French PDF

Problem solving - French PowerPoint PPTX


[Links checked 3.2.15 unless otherwise indicated]

Languges without Limits
Hilary McColl's professional website on languages and inclusion, which has an earlier page on using the target language.

MLG Publishing
Susan Thomas's website contains information about the published resources we have worked on prior to this project.

Increasing Use of the Target Language in Classroom Interactions 
An excellent and helpful article by Constance K Knop from a Canadian website. Full of sensible advice and practical suggestions.

Using the target language 
Notes for trainee teachers at the University of Alberta, Canada.

American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL)
Position statement on the use of the target language in the classroom.

Improving the quality of language learning in schools: Approaches to teaching and learning

Teaching in the target language
An article by Helena Curtain, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Links into Languages: Talking to Learn project
This project seeks to foreground two aspects of learner talk in the target language: planned talk and spontaneous talk, and through the development of new task types engaging with a variety of different contexts and stimuli (for example, film, story-telling, song and pictures) improve learners’ confidence and creativity with spoken language.
Information and resources in french, german and Spanish.

Speaking and Spontaneous Talk in the Languages Classroom
Lots of ideas on Rachel Hawkes' website:

Hampshire Languages - Phonics

As others see us
An article by Hazel Crichton in the Scottish Languages Review describing a small piece of research, which was undertaken to gain pupils’ perceptions of techniques and strategies used by teachers who use the target language extensively in the modern languages classroom.

Rejoinders and common expressions to keep the conversation going
Using rejoinders:
English as a second language:
If you know of any other good links to lists of rejoinders, please let me know! - HM

Using the target language to discipline students
A TES Forum discussion on behaviour and learning in the MFL class

Talk so that pupils listen and listen so that pupils talk
An account of the project that won the Mary Glasgow Award in 2004. Why aren't we all doing this?!

The quiet revolution: transformational languages research by teaching school alliances
Theme 5: Spontaneous strategies as the gateway to attainment
Theme 6: Talk in the classroom – Understanding the barriers to speaking

Interact! Learning through spontaneous speaking in Modern Languages
By Colin Christie. This booklet describes a research evidence based approach using strategies and the classroom environment to promote spontaneous talk in the target language.

[15.1.16] Thanks to SCILT for this link!

[11.2.16] Unplanned talk
Watch Rachel Hawkes taking about why 'unplanned talk' is so important.

[13.5.16] Students' use of the target language