Studying abroad for a semester in Spain, showing an episode of a telenovela, or playing a Latin Pop crossover hit as students enter the classroom… What is the best way to immerse students in a foreign language?

If you mentioned any of the above, you may already be teaching with Comprehensible Input, known to some in the foreign language teaching community as CI.

Sometimes we can easily fall back into old habits of structuring rigid grammar lessons or giving students huge lists of vocabulary words to memorize. Instead, let’s consider how CI can more effectively engage students of different learning types and how Promethean is a great tool to incorporate culture and technology into CI teaching practices.

What Is Comprehensible Input?

Based on linguist Stephen Krashen’s input hypothesis, Comprehensible Input (CI) helps language learners understand the essence of a language before acquiring an extensive vocabulary. Context clues, physical gestures, and heavy input of key verb structures encourage students to use natural motor skills to convey meaning in the target language. In other words, CI is how students can refine their foreign language skills through application instead of memorization. Since complete fluency is not a pre-requisite to interact with a native speaker, students will be better motivated to stay with the target language.

Why Is CI ideal for foreign language instruction?

Using curriculum materials that are relevant and understandable help students see a foreign language as a transferable life skill. In world language classrooms, music is a great way to generate active intercultural dialogue and give students ownership of their learning. By previewing key lyrics and pivoting back to high-frequency vocabulary structures, the lesson is paced through PQA (personalized questions and answers) in a way that challenges students in an accessible, relevant way. For Spanish teachers that want to reinvigorate their lesson plans, Miércoles de Música is a popular activity that students look forward to weekly.

Which type of students learn best from CI based instruction?

Whether students are English Language Learners (ELL), kinesthetic learners, or in advanced placement courses, teaching with CI differentiates among multiple learning types. CI-friendly activities such as the running dictation relay race encourage active use of the language as well as team building. Interpretation of the key phrase and accompanied illustration teach students that a language is a living organism. These activities also offer teachers quick feedback on how to pace and revise the lesson for each group of students.

How Does Promethean fit with CI based curriculum?

Adding videos and other multimedia in ActivInspire is a simple trick that generates robust discussions in the classroom. Annotate high-frequency vocabulary in images with the highlighter or pen tools to spotlight the main takeaway of the presentation. For great classroom management, the revealer tool is a popular feature to pace the lesson and hone in on key concepts.

The multi-user mode on the Promethean Whiteboard App for ActivPanel is an ideal tool for students to use when summarizing and reviewing what they learned that day, as well as to create quick, engaging activities.

For more information to make your classroom CI-friendly, check out these recommendations below:

  • Martina Bex is a World Languages Curriculum Consultant and former Spanish teacher that is a leading mind on CI. Her blog The Comprehensible Classroom features teaching practices that are great for CI novices and the Somos  curricula.
  • Marc Fencil is a Spanish teacher at Marysville Early College High School. His blog TCI By the Lake is filled with CI-friendly resources and teacher tips that will help make your classroom an immersive and authentic experience for all students.

Author: Brent Hawk is an Education Consultant for Promethean in New York City. He taught high school Spanish for 6 years in Ohio, where he implemented a Comprehensible Input (CI) based curriculum to promote cultural fluency –– which is part of the school district’s 1:1 Chromebook initiative grant. He enjoys long distance running, traveling, watching Ohio State Buckeyes football and cooking food that’s way too spicy for his wife in Brooklyn.

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