Want to get your French immersion students using French (or another target language) amongst themselves and in class more? This is a big challenge for so many immersion teachers I've met and had the pleasure of working with over the years. Here are 6 ways to increase the amount of the target language being used in your classroom.

1. Model by only using French

Make sure you're not exacerbating the issue by accidentally modeling that it's ok to speak English whenever you are stuck for a word, or a bit tired, or whatever. Students are often tired too. We have to model that it's worth investing the time and energy to say what we need to in the target language ourselves. (Not saying you are doing that! Just something to remember, in case. And if this does describe you, don't beat yourself up - just vow to do better starting tomorrow.)

2. Explicitly teach circumlocution and vocabulary

Specifically teach strategies to talk around or explain what you're trying to say rather than  resorting to English. And notice what words your students need reinforced. When they do slip up, what is it that they're having trouble communicating? Make an anchor chart of common, every day terms that they need reminders about, or to focus on using correctly so that the words really do "stick." You can be proactive with this strategy or respond to student needs as they arise, or a bit of both!  

3. Make it a challenge

I've had success with grade 8s monitoring each other. Each student has a clothes pin or safety pin with a special marking/decoration and if you catch another student speaking, you take their pins. Pins are worth points. (At the local elementary feeder school, the French teachers used a variety of dried beans - but one student DID confess to buying a bag of them at the grocery store himself to circumvent the system by providing his own "fèves".) Points earned can be used towards whatever you like in terms of rewards. Maybe a movie day or special seating arrangements or a week with no homework. Whatever works for you and your students' motivation!

4. Have a mystery student of the day

You choose a student at random when students arrive for the day. (I'd suggest selecting someone ahead of time, but then sometimes that student is absent. I usually do it when I take attendance. The website random.org can be one way to do this if you have your students numbered for attendance or other purposes. Just set the top number to the number of students in your class.) 

The class gets a reward, or a point towards earning a reward, if that mystery student stayed in the target language to an acceptable level throughout the day (or half a day, or even just for one period - you set the parametres so taht they are a stretch yet are attainable). A body break spent in a neighbouring park was always a big hit with my students!

You can use this free poster to serve as a visual reminder. I used to write the student's name on a sticky note & put it on the back of a poster like this that was stuck to my board with magnets.

5. Send home feedback

Sometimes parents don't know how their child is coping or managing in the French program. Communication home can be helpful to paint a clearer picture for supporting adults. Then they can have conversations at home to remind the student of the benefits of the French Immersion program. After all, it's often been the parents' choice rather than the student's choice to be there. I have notes home in my TpT store for this, if you'd like.

6. Send home evaluations

Actually give a small oral assessment mark to 2-4 kids per day on their use of the target language. Have parents sign the mini-rubric and send it back to the class. You can even email this directly if they're not being returned. I would snap a photo of the rubric before I sent it home to give students a chance to show responsibility, and then follow up with an email from me, containing that photo, as necessary.

I hope you've gotten at least one new idea to try!  If you have questions, be sure to drop me a comment below to let me know. Always happy to help!