How to get them to speak the language they are learning?

(cross-posted at Enseigner, c’est agir – en français)

How do you get your students to speak French (or whatever the 2nd language is that they are learning) in class?

I am not interested in offering rewards. I don’t want to raise a group of trained seals who will do anything for a candy.

click image to view source

I think the answer lies somewhere in here:

If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.— Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

in creating learning situations where they must speak the 2nd language in order to participate and where they will want to participate…

Have you been able to do this? Tell me your story!


  • I studied French and Spanish back in high school and college respectively. Unfortunately, I didn’t learn anything beyond the class and now I totally forgot about them. What I notice is that students are motivated by the fact that they’ll be able to use the language other than going to a country speaking them. I really wanted to learn japanese because I like reading japanese manga. Maybe students would want to learn french is they’ll be able to use it for something inside their hobbies.

  • Tara says:

    I think my most successful experience of this was teaching Core French. We always ended our units with something fun…a cafe, a magic show, a carnival. The children wanted to participate and needed to know and practice the vocabulary. Man we had a lot of fun while learning French.

    • Tracy says:

      @Tara, thanks for your comment :)

      So they participated in French in order to get to the something fun? Or they could only participate in the something fun if they spoke French?

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