What is Comprehensible Input?
Comprehensible input is teaching a foreign language with listening and reading rather than the traditional method of providing a list of vocabulary words and memorizing the list for a test. The key factor with input, is teaching the target language at a level slightly above the student’s current ability.
My Experience with Comprehensible Input
I started using comprehensible input (CI) without realizing what I was doing. I did this primarily through Teaching Proficiency Through Reading and Storytelling. I created short stories that use repetitive sentence structures and topics that kids enjoy. I used these stories primarily with ages 8-10. I also have a middle school and high school curriculum, but I haven’t incorporated CI yet. It’s coming over the next year or so.
My Opinion on CI vs Traditional Language Learning Methods
I’ve taught a wide variety of Spanish, ranging from bilingual education, dual language, and Spanish as a foreign language. Having seen children learning a target language using a variety of methods, I believe we should use a mix of traditional language learning methods (teaching grammar with direct instruction) AND comprehensible input.
I noticed that many dual language students can comprehend the language, but they can’t produce it. They don’t have a good grasp on grammar, and sometimes use broken English or Spanish. It’s very easy to get swept up in what, “the research says,” but as teachers we have to think for ourselves and ensure we’re providing results for our students. When students comprehend by producing the language and using it correctly, we know they’re getting results.
When is a good time to introduce grammar?
For middle school ages and up, I incorporate grammar in each unit. Students then start to grasp how the language functions along with comprehensible input. For elementary students, I only focus on comprehensible input.
Looking for Comprehensible Input Spanish Lessons?
If you’d like to try a comprehensible input lesson, but are unsure how to get started, take a look at a couple of my lessons below.