The 2018 WAFLT Summer Institute is just around the corner. To help folks get charged for this year’s theme, “Digging Deep: Comprehensible Input, Authentic Resources and Growing Professionally,” it seemed appropriate to share a few definitions and current resources from the web that provide a range of thought on this topic.
First, What is CI?
Comprehensible Input is built off of Krashen’s Input Hypothesis whereby students need target language input just above their current level of linguistic competence. Krashen suggests that input at this level leads students to acquire language naturally rather than focusing on the memorization of grammatical rules. (http://www.sk.com.br/sk-krash-english.html)
CI from the instructor however doesn’t stand alone. Students need authentic resources both auditory and written to build their level of linguistic competence. Here’s where we can look at high and low tech options. Let’s start with the web. There are tons of infographics in all languages and the activity of course can be adjusted to meet the level of the learner. If these are infographics from the target culture that weren’t designed specifically for your students, you know you are working with authentic resources. Here’s an earlier article on High Tech/Low Tech use of infographics and a long list of options for you. If your students can’t access the web during class you can always print these out and work with them in paper form.
YouTube of course is a great resource for auditory input. Look for a song, newscast or other short video of interest. If YouTube is blocked perhaps it is time to look throughyour CD collection from your past trips to the target culture. You can probably find something there that you can use. Whatever you find and use, the important thing is to realize that you are providing your students with additional input, a voice that isn’t yours, and this will help tune their ear, move your class more towards the 90% target language goal you have set, and move your students forward on their proficiency level continuum.
Going back in time a bit, on August 28, 2014 Langchat (check out their Facebook page), a weekly twitter chat attended by language educators from all over the world, focused on incorporating more comprehensible input and authentic resources in a “traditional” language program. Take a look at the summary of that conversation for ideas from numerous teachers that struggle with the same concerns you may have. Topics include explicit grammar instruction vs. implicit instruction, whether or not to ditch your textbook, vocabulary lists, worksheets, and technology. There isn’t a single right answer to the question of “how it should be done” but there are some interesting suggestions for what people are doing to evolve pedagogically with today’s options.
Hopefully you are feeling intrigued to learn a bit more from Jan Kittok who has been presenting on this topic for several years. Attending the 2018 Summer Institute will give you a chance to get a hands-on more in-depth idea of how CI and authentic resources can take your students down their path to proficiency. It will also give you an opportunity to check in with other language educators on this topic as you find your own path professionally, whether you have access to all the latest technology or not.