In light of the 2010 recommendation of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages that teachers use the target language (TL) "as exclusively as possible," teachers face the necessity of promoting target language use and assessing how their language choices influence their students. The purpose of this study was to analyze teachers' perspectives and practices of whether to use students' first language or the target language. Data from over 100 foreign language teachers, predominantly those in the K-12 sector, were collected through a survey in order to measure how teachers manage the phenomenon of language choice. The findings were analyzed descriptively, categorically, and inferentially to find relationships among teachers in general, as well as within subgroups of participants. Findings indicate that teachers felt using the target language was more of a challenge for academic purposes because of their belief that they should be conducted in the TL. Academic tasks were also reported involving a greater quantity of speech functions, which made them more difficult to complete in the target language. Additional findings showed that teachers in general were most often influenced by student attitudes, motivation, and proficiency as well as their own attitudes, motivation, and proficiency. For certain subgroups, however, when teachers focused more on their own proficiency, motivation, training and experience they were more likely to reach 90% TL use or more. Furthermore, it was found that promoting the target language effectively equated with incorporating many strategies that supported TL goals. The most prevalent techniques found for promoting TL use were preparing for making input comprehensible, giving praise and recognition, and explaining its importance at the beginning of the year. Recommendations for increasing the ability of teachers to face the challenges of TL use are to simplify and increase the academic, social, and managerial purposes for which it can be used, prioritize and focus on the most influential factors of language choice (LC) within teachers' control, and form and promote a plan for TL use built upon a foundation of most effective techniques and practices for optimizing language choices.



College and Department

Humanities; Spanish and Portuguese



Date Submitted


Document Type





Language choice, foreign language, target language use, first language use, teacher perspectives, self-evaluation, target language use strategies, motivation, proficiency, code-switching