There’s a side of teaching with comprehensible input centered methods that I wish teachers talked about more. Yes, I run a blog and conference on being a proficiency oriented world language teacher. Yes, I believe with my whole heart that this method is the most effective and culturally responsive teaching method for your classroom.
However, it’s also a very messy journey. A beautiful one, but when many are telling you how life-changing it is, you start to wonder why you feel so lost trying to figure out how to start with ci methods and understanding the role of comprehensible input in your classroom.
Why Comprehensible Input is Messy
Starting something new in 3 words from what you read in blogs/books/see on social:
exciting. empowering. life-changing!
All true, but here are 3 words I’d like to add to starting anything new:
exhausting. frustrating. confusing.
I don’t know about you, but I feel all of these things in a single day when starting something new.
As many of you know, my season in life right now is focused on health. I’ve been training for a 10k race for a few weeks now.
It’s the Cooper River Bridge Run in Charleston if you wanna check it out, it’s actually kinda famous and been on my bucket list forevs.
Starting with Proficiency and CI is Like Any New Journey
Lemme first say that I do love running – in my high school and college rugby days, running was my favorite way to train since rugby is such a high-condition sport. (Alot like soccer).
But running long distance is very new to me. Like babe in the woods level new. I haven’t run cross country since I was 12, and the longest I ever ran was 3 mile races anyways.
I called my sister (a die-hard runner) immediately for help, a training plan, and her best advice for my already sore shin splints~ 🤣
And like any good educator and info lover, I bought some books on training and nutrition, consulted some blogs, and started following some new running leaders to help me get better and learn more about my new sport.
How I Felt When I Started with Comprehensible Input
After I was all up in the feelings of excited, empowered by my new strength, and stoked for how life-changing this achievement would be, I was hit by some new feelings only a chapter into the fitness and nutrition book:
This is confusing. How do I know this will work for my body type and my training?
This is frustrating. This other book is saying something different about the same dang food.
This blog rabbit hole is exhausting. I’m not a beginner, but I also need help….how do I know where to turn and that I’m getting the running and nutrition info that’s right for me?
And then yesterday on my longest run yet (6 miles, whoop whoop!) ⚡️⚡️I was lightning struck ⚡️⚡️
Friend, I kid you not — this is exactly how I felt 4 years ago when I was trying to improve my classroom practice with proficiency and comprehensible input.
I dove in like the obsessive person that I am, excited for the promise of change. I was empowered to continue from all the progress I saw in students even when I sucked at it. I knew this would be life-changing for me. (hence the whole blog and conference gig nowadays)
How Teaching with CI Actually Feels
But friend, I also started my proficiency-oriented blog because these feelings were also daily:
CI is confusing! Where do you even start and how do you know that what you see others doing will work for your very unique classroom needs?
CI is frustrating! The research is conflicting at times, leaders are conflicting at times….and seriously, why can’t WoLang teachers just get along?
The blog rabbit hole for CI is exhausting! There’s so much high quality stuff out there. So many incredible teachers.
Enough that I was inspired to try it myself and dedicate my career to it. But at the same time, there’s not enough out there about the failures, the falls, and the real life of how up and down trying anything new really is.
The Truth About Proficiency
So here I am, comin’ at you from the real side of trying something new. Starting to teach with proficiency? It’s all 6 feelings, sometimes on the same day.
You might at the same time feel excited reading one of my blog posts, but also frustrated because I did things differently in my class than another teacher. You’ll constantly wonder about whether what you’re doing is working. It’s confusing.
But I’ll tell you the same thing my sister told me about running long distance — yes, it’s literally a long journey, but you’ll find a groove.
You’ll find the foods that work for you, the schedule that works for you, and the only way to figure it out is to learn for a while from others until you have enough miles under your feet to know what truly works for you – shin splints, good days, bad days, and all.
The Switch to Proficiency is Messy and Glorious
There will be a time when you don’t need someone else to guide you on your CI journey.
There will be a time when you can leave behind the exhaustion, the frustration, and the confusion because you’ll have over a year’s worth of your own days trying it yourself to know what works.
But until then, I want to honor the fact that this journey is messy.
I made a class just for you if you’re brand new to proficiency and are feelin’ that babe in the woods level newness.
Comprehensible Input & Proficiency: Where Do I Start?”
Live class is on FB at 4pm Weds EST – click below to either join live or watch the replay anytime!
|Click here to watch this class about how to optimize your mindset when starting to teach for proficiency with comprehensible input|
It’s all about having the right mindset and approach to starting that will help keep you sane as you start your exciting, empowering, life-changing, and yes, exhausting, confusing, and often frustrating journey into the teaching method that changed my classroom and my life for the better.
More Comprehensible Input Resources
If you’re ready to jump in and get started with proficiency and comprehensible input, I have some resources to help you on your journey below:
- Free roadmap on how to transition to proficiency – click here to download this 20+ page ebook on all things world language, including how to transition to proficiency without losing your sanity
- What is Comprehensible Input? post
- Curriculum Design for World Language Teachers post
- Sign Up for the Next Practical & Comprehensible Free Virtual Conference!
If you’re new to proficiency through CI rich instruction and you’re feeling like me training for this 10k — a babe in the woods — you are not alone, friend. It’s messy but also glorious. Join me for this quick class to help you get started on the right foot (lolz).
And for real, if you’re a runner, send me your race day tips! I’m really trying to figure out my breakfast since the race is at 8am — I’ll trade you PD for good running ideas any day of the week 😁
Wish me luck on Sept 25th, and I hope to hang with you tomorrow or on the #replay!
Sincerely rooting for you,