What is CI

What Is CI in the World Language Classroom?

In the realm of language learning, educators are constantly seeking new and effective methods to engage students and accelerate their proficiency. One approach that has gained popularity in recent years is Comprehensible Input (CI). This methodology prioritizes understanding over rote memorization, fostering a natural acquisition process, which is more similar to how we learn our first language. So what is CI in the World Language classroom? Many of you asked. So let’s break it down!

What is CI, Exactly?

Comprehensible Input, coined by linguist Stephen Krashen, revolves around the idea that language acquisition occurs most effectively when learners are exposed to messages that are slightly above their current proficiency level but are still comprehensible. CI emphasizes the importance of providing students with language input that they can understand, even if it requires some stretching of their comprehension abilities. This can be achieved through various means such as gestures, visuals, contextual clues, and simplified language structures.

In CI-based instruction, teachers focus on delivering compelling and meaningful input in the target language, ensuring that students are actively engaged and motivated to decipher the message. This approach creates a low-anxiety learning environment where mistakes are embraced as integral steps towards linguistic growth.

Why Is CI So Popular?

CI is aligned with the natural processes of language acquisition. Just as infants absorb language effortlessly through exposure to comprehensible input from caregivers, learners of any age can internalize a new language when provided with compelling and comprehensible messages. By immersing students in authentic and context-rich language experiences, CI activates their innate language-learning mechanisms, leading to faster and more sustainable progress.

Another hallmark of CI is that it facilitates meaningful communication and authentic language use. The more traditional practices and drills that often feel disconnected from real-world language usage are not used. According to Krashen, this relevance and authenticity not only enhance motivation but also deepen students’ understanding and retention of linguistic structures and vocabulary.

How Can I Use CI in My Classroom?

Implementing CI in your language classroom requires a shift in instructional practices towards a more student-centered and input-focused approach. Here are some strategies to incorporate CI effectively:

  • Use Compelling Input: Select materials, such as stories, videos, and authentic texts, that are inherently interesting and culturally relevant to your students. Ensure that the input is comprehensible through contextual supports and scaffolding.
  • Provide Comprehensible Output Opportunities: Encourage students to communicate in the target language through activities such as story retelling, role-plays, and discussions. Scaffold the tasks to match students’ proficiency levels, gradually increasing the complexity of language use over time.
  • Use Gestures and Visuals: Supplement verbal input with gestures, images, and realia to enhance comprehension and make abstract concepts more tangible. Visual aids serve as powerful tools for reinforcing vocabulary and language structures.
  • Provide Language-rich Environments: Create an immersive language environment within the classroom by integrating the target language into various aspects of instruction, including classroom routines, displays, and interactions.

Many teachers, especially teachers that have been in the game a long time, feel apprehension when a “new trend” comes along. But the ideas provided above are things that most language teachers are doing anyway! My suggestion when tackling something new is always to set a reasonable goal for myself. Can I adapt ONE activity a week that was very traditional or rote to something more CI-aligned?

I guarantee that if your students love it and/or it makes a difference in their language acquisition, you will be motivated to do more!

Do you use CI exclusively as your teaching method? Do you use a mix of approaches? I’d love to hear from you! Email me at Jamie@SpecialtySpanish.com

Resources: Here are some CI-modeled activities for you to check out!

Spanish Reading Comprehension Scavenger Hunt Game Accident Theme

Vacaciones en España Culture Presentation with Linked Activities Past Tense

Spanish Authentic Listening Activity Winter Invierno in Chile

The Case For Comprehensible Input

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What is CI