FL literature lessons in Dutch secondary education present a potential dilemma for teachers in terms of language use. On the one hand teachers are encouraged to support target language (TL) input and output to promote foreign language (FL) learning. On the other hand, the curricular culture in the Netherlands has historically stipulated that FL literature teaching should take place in the first language (L1). Furthermore, studies on TL/L1 use in FL lessons suggest teachers and students turn to L1 when discussing complex content such as a passages from a literary texts. As such, it is unknown what is currently happening regarding TL/L1 use during FL literature lessons in the Netherlands. Therefore, this descriptive study investigates how much and during which classroom activities TL/L1 were used in English as a foreign language (EFL) literature classrooms. Twenty-four lessons (four for each of six teachers) were video-recorded and TL/L1 use analysed. Results show that although students used mostly L1, teachers predominantly used TL, revealing them to be actively providing a language focus in EFL literature lessons. TL/L1 use by teachers and students differed between classrooms and individual lessons; TL/L1 choice was generally not determined by classroom activities but by teacher consistency and encouragement.