I confess, I dropped the ball with enforcing my number 1 rule:
In Spanish class we only speak Spanish
In French class we only speak French
I am good at staying in the target language myself. I was so good at enforcing this sacred rule with my students, but lately I haven’t been enforcing it. My favorite TCI trainer Jason Fritze, told me that this is the most important rule and under no circumstances his students are allowed to speak English without raising their hands and asking for permission. He gave me some very good ideas to stay in the target language 90% of the time. First, I need to explain to my students why this rule is so important. Then, I need to teach them a gesture for when they need to speak English. They will only use this gesture in an emergency situation. I will follow my own rule and ask the class “May I speak English?” Lately I’ve been teaching my Spanish level 2 students synonyms, so now every time they ask me what does a word mean I say this word is a synonym of this. Example:
¿Qué quiere decir alumno?
Alumno es un sinónimo de estudiante.
This strategy has been very useful and it allows me to avoid using English. Another strategy I learned from Jason Fritze is not to let the class turn into the dreaded ¿Cómo se dice..? or insufferable Comment dit-on? game. In other words, students will communicate by using the words that they have acquired at the moment. Lastly, keep your class fun and positive by praising and rewarding those who follow the rules. This will encourage students’ participation and use of the target language.