As the new year starts and the second semester gets underway, I am more committed than ever to using Comprehensible Input (CI) strategies to improve learning outcomes for my students. I gave up my textbooks a few years ago, and CI allows me the freedom to explore student interests and still teach vocabulary in context. For me, the key is “in context.” Vocabulary lists alone will not improve fluency. As children, none of us sat down to study a list when we were learning our first language, right?
It was hard to “let go” in the beginning, of course. Change can be really hard! Sometimes my students don’t even realize they are being taught. I know, however, that those repetitions of vocabulary and structures are working their magic. Time will tell.
My students have been using the CI novels in class. We generally read one as a class. Many times, I’ll have them follow along as I read and act out the story. In some classes, students want to act out scenes. Usually, hilarity ensues!
My plan is in place for my classes. I hope I’m up to the challenge.
Before I begin, let me tell you that I wanted to call this blog post “My Brain is Full,” but I felt that was too long, and I like alliteration, so I went with the current title.
If you teach (especially foreign language), you probably already know which Martina—Martina Bex. I have spent considerable time exploring her blog https://martinabex.com/ otherwise known as The Comprehensible Classroom. She discusses the advantages of using CI (Comprehensible Input) when teaching. After all, if the students have no understanding of what the teacher is saying, why bother?
Martina spent two brain-filling days with over 100 educators from Nebraska and surrounding areas. (One teacher drove from Arkansas to take this training!) The part that really blew me away was that we teachers didn’t have to pay to attend! That never happens! This time, however, it sure did, thanks to the hard work of Dr. Janine Theiler of the Nebraska Department of Education. She had support people like Jessica and Jami who saved my bacon when I thought I was lost. They made sure everything went smoothly so we teachers could learn and improve our practice in the classroom.
I was thrilled to get a copy of Martina’s presentation in addition to the handouts provided. I will use them to create plans of my own as I work toward CI in my own classes. Now I have the framework necessary to push students toward proficiency!
It was a pleasure to meet Martina. She’s very approachable and thoughtfully replies to questions. I took the picture below on a break from the session on the second day. I asked Martina, “What makes you happy?” Her response: “My children!”
For more information about Comprehensible Input, the research behind it and strategies for implementation, please visit https://martinabex.com/.