The present study investigates the functions that language learners attribute to the first language (L1) within a teaching context that maximizes the target language (TL). Beginners of French in an Australian university (N = 52) completed a questionnaire consisting of 21 closed questions on their views on L1/TL use and two open questions on the advantages/disadvantages of using the L1 in teaching and learning a language. Results confirm previous studies indicating that students attribute a function to L1 to impart knowledge about the TL medium. The particularities of the context may help explain other findings of the study. First, a majority of students showed a preference for the use of L1 to perform classroom management. Second, for respondents, L1 and TL have an impact on anxiety and motivation. While L1 use may alleviate classroom anxiety, it may also be a demotivating factor. This article calls for further research to examine the impact of the teaching context on students' views of L1/TL distribution.