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by Sara-Elizabeth Cottrell on Feb 13, 2018

Integrating Comprehensible Input in the World Language Classroom

Once upon a timeAcross the world language teaching profession, teachers are eagerly looking for more and better ways to provide comprehensible (or better yet, comprehended) input to their learners.  They know that acquisition only happens when learners assign meaning to words and structures, and that requires comprehension.  This topic inspired the November 23 #langchat.  Let’s see what teachers had to say about how they ensure learners are receiving rich, engaging, and comprehended input.

Finding Reading Resources to Provide Comprehensible Input

#Langchat teachers are always looking for more creative ways to integrate comprehensible input into their reading resources.  To choose wisely, @MadameVolz recommends understanding what your students are interested in: “I find resources by paying attention to what my [students] are talking about”.  Also, it’s important to make sure the reading is achievable.  “I believe in either scaffolding up to authentic resources or using texts that students can easily read,” said @Marishawkins. @GrowingFrench shared, “also shortening, chunking and editing authentic resources makes them more accessible.”

Where do world language teachers look first for good comprehensible reading material? @SraWienhold shared some of the favorites:I buy great language learner novels from @profeklein @FluencyMatters @MCanion @TPRSbooks.”

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Using Listening Resources to Support Comprehensible Input

When it comes to incorporating comprehensible input into listening resources, world language teachers shared a plethora of successful ideas for their classrooms.  Here again, scaffolding to make sure resources were comprehensible was important.  @sharon_grele mentioned Audacity, the free audio editing software from Sourceforge, adding, “You can slow down, repeat, shorten, etc. [the] audio.”  Then, when introducing the audio, “providing comprehensible input & visuals before the listening (film, song etc) helps SO much!” (SraWienhold)

During listening, focus was important for #langchat teachers. According to @kellycondon,“if the authentic resource is above their comprehensible input, I give them a specific task and remind them that the goal is not to understand everything they hear, but to complete the task.”  Similarly, @sharon_grele believes it is important “focus on one thing at a time. Don’t ask them to write a lot while listening. Can’t do both well. Keep task simple.”

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Supporting the Management of the Classroom while Using Comprehensible Input

Because of the high energy and focus on target language use by the entire class in a CI classroom, “management” can seem to become an issue.  We say “seem” because in typical school classes, movement and excessive talking are labeled misbehavior.  In a CI class, however, these behaviors should mean that learners are comprehending more and engaging more with the input.  So how did #Langchat participants “manage” class behavior and focus in a language class infused with comprehensible input?

  • @Rrrrrrrrrrrrosa said the class is more focused on the input with routines that “[keep] things familiar”: “language & content learning targets, daily themes, persona especial.”
  • @VTracy7 shared, “My walls scream CI! Verbs, rejoinders, question posters & my circumlocution board.”
  • @GrowingFrench uses “a lot of manipulatives and posters to support CI and support target language use.”
  • @MlleSulewski shared, “Also having routine phrases that signal what’s coming next/what students have to do. I always do a countdown to transition out of partner/group work, some use [call-response] phrases.”
    For a list of suggested target-language call-response phrases, see this post shared by Martina Bex.
  • @SenoritaHidalgo said, “I give students opportunities to shoutout with rejoinders that are distributed and passed out each day by the student helper. It gives kids an opportunity to shout out in the target language.”
    For helpful guidance on rejoinders, see Bryce Hedstrom’s rejoinder tag.

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Ensuring Students are Provided Comprehensible Input During Homework or Choice Assignments

Although it is challenging to ensure that students are provided with Comprehensible Input outside of the classroom, @MadameVolz suggested that Classkick is a great tech resource for illustrating sentences from stories or text. You can see all illustrations in one place or click [through] students’ illustrations on overhead… a great post-story for novel [repetitions].” @Marishawkins said, “When I am feeling super ambitious I find a few different comprehensible input sources that can work for students but it is time consuming and hard!” @SenoritaHidalgo added, “You CAN’T 100% ensure students will be provided with comprehensible input for out-of-class assignments. However, SeñorWooly is great for comprehensibility and can be compelling depending on student interest.”

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Thank You

Thank you to #langchat moderator @MlleSulewski and all who participated in the langchat on Comprehensible Input in the World Language Classroom and for continuing to make Langchat discussions possible!

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Sara-Elizabeth Cottrell
Sara-Elizabeth Cottrell is a homeschool mom of three bilingual children. She’s also a Spanish teacher and the COO and chief storyteller for Calico Spanish.

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