Hint: comprehensible input is not a fad, it’s not a method, and it’s not going away in the world of language teaching and learning. The reason why comprehensible input teaching strategies are so important to understand is because -surprise!- you’re already doing it. Teaching with comprehensible input strategies is also the direction that language teaching is going-and fast.
Every world language teacher uses Comprehensible Input – it just depends on whether they use it intentionally.
Comprehensible Input in very simple terms is any type of message that conveys an understood and interesting meaning to the receiver: listener, reader, conversation partner, you name it.
What Does Comprehensible Input Mean for Teachers?
I’m so glad you asked! Watch this PD class below to get the 101 on what is comprehensible input and proficiency, as well as the important terms and philosophies to get you started. This is part of a 12-part series called Start with CI! Check out the class below:
One crucial takeaway to remember is that CI is not a method — every teacher uses input, it just depends if we’re intentional about it.
This is probably why you’ve heard of so many different methods with comprehensible input being thrown in the mix with it. I used to think that too – but there’s no reason why focusing on providing interesting messages in easy-to-understand language can’t be the focus of our classes over language features.
Have you ever wished the transition to proficiency were easier to do? Grab the FREE toolkit here to learn the framework for updating your practice to comprehensible input – without all the overwhelm – and prepare for the challenges ahead.
This of course does not put us at odds with grammar. This is still important, but it’s frankly outdated to be the curriculum focus. Or that it will lead to your students learning your desired language. For more information and research about this, check out this post on Why I Switched to Comprehensible Input where I presented to my district on the research behind switching to proficiency. You can also check out the 3-part video series here below:
What Comprehensible Input Is NOT
A teacher talking a mile a minute in front of the class the whole time. Comprehensible Input at its core has to be understood. It’s not just a message – the reader or listener has to receive it. It is different from target language use, but entirely linked. To see what I mean, check out the queen of comprehensibility from the CI posse Sarah Breckley. She has a great youtube channel that will make you pee in your pants and learn a ton. BAYUM. For the win!
More Teachers Using Comprehensible Input Strategies:
Comprehensible Input Teaching Strategies
Comprehensible Input is not really a method-like Tina says, it’s the ingredient. In every effective world language classroom where acquisition happens, there’s plenty of input that people understand and interact with, and there’s plenty of different ways to do this. Some teachers stick to a method that they call “CI” in that they use methods associated with the term, which is awesome.
Some examples you might have heard of or you might use:
- TPR and its buddy TPRS
- Natural Approach
- 100% Target Language
- Project-Based World Language
- 90% Target Language
- unit-free, student-driven curriculum
- deskless classrooms
- Proficiency-Based instruction
- ClipChat (previously known as MovieTalks)
- Authentic Texts and Materials
- Teaching with Songs
- Teaching with tasks
- TPR storytelling & procedure instruction
- Special Person Interviews
- TPRS – teaching proficiency through storytelling
- whole-class games in the target language
- timed writing
- IPA – integrated performance assessments
How Teachers Use Comprehensible Input
Frankly, I don’t know of a teacher who strictly uses one method – most use lots of different tricks. If you keep up with ACTFL publications, you’ll know that all of these different strategies all have different advantages.
In reality though, CI is a term that just means we use messages our students understand, and you can see above just how beautifully creative the language community is in how we deliver that content.
The research also shows that there’s still so much that we don’t know, and that different methods have different advantages. There’s also alot of research bias. What is certainly evident is that students exposed to more CI are more successful than those with less, which is why ACFTL has a very strong stance on this:
In classrooms that feature maximum target-language use, instructors use a variety of strategies to facilitate comprehension and support meaning making. For example, they provide comprehensible input that is directed toward communicative goals…
My Story with CI and Teaching for Proficiency
As a Spanish and French teacher fairly new to comprehensible input and all the goodies and methodologies that come with it, I’m hoping that clarifying this term will help you to use it with confidence.
TRUST ME – There’s a reason you’re hearing this term everywhere. It’s not going away anytime soon.
I also help that sharing my story will encourage you to try it out!
Free Training for CI Spanish and French Teachers
If you’re ready to start using comprehensible input strategies, you’re in luck. I teach a free professional development class for world language teachers every Wednesday. This Fall’s series is all about getting started with comprehensible input. Check out the series here:
Do you want to start using strategies for teaching with comprehensible input but don’t want to spend the time that I did making your own lesson plans? I’ve got you covered. Click here to find comprehensible input lesson plans ready-made for your Spanish and French classroom.
Keep at this work that matters so much and I’m sincerely rooting for you.
P.S. Don’t forget to grab this free guide to show you how to start using CI without all the mystery and stress.