This is a draft only, an attempt to create a short document for the Primers section that we can print out lest any of our colleagues claim to be doing CI when they are not. (There are a more than a few out there doing that which I think is more than dangerous to future curriculum statements/design than anyone has any idea, as per recent discussion here.)
Having a quick printable version of our general point about CI is meant to save us from some of those discussions we all have had but wish we hadn’t with our colleagues. Such discussions can and have ruined friendships, especially on the point about speech output.
Please add or suggest changes in the comment fields below and I will add this document to the Primers hard link above when it is ready.
General Definition: Comprehensible Input is delivering understandable messages, both heard and read. In a school setting, this involves the delivery and development of understandable messages with students.
For it to be said that language teachers are indeed are using comprehensible input, the following things should be observable in their classrooms:
1. The instructor uses the target language at least 90% of available instructional minutes.
2. The students are primarily focused on the meaning and not on the form of the language.
3. The instructor and the students are engaged in an observable back and forth negotiation of meaning beyond simple translation, correlation of words to a picture, or the working with lists to define individual words.
4. The students do not take tests that require memorization. Rather, they demonstrate their knowledge of the language by showing that they understand messages as a result of their having focused in an unconscious way on their meaning, and not in a conscious way on any individual words that have been separated from the overall context of a message. In addition, tests/quizzes used in classrooms where comprehensible input would not be expected to require students to demonstrate an ability to output the language in the form of writing or speech.
5. The students accept that speech and writing will emerge spontaneously and in a relatively short amount of time, but that all students will develop these abilities at different times and to varying degrees of accuracy. Therefore, no students should ever feel forced to speak the target language in the classroom, although they are of course encouraged to do so whenever they want to.
6. Student receptivity of CI is reduced or enhanced by student motivation, interest, and the affective state. Students who are open to learning, learn.
7. Teachers deliver messages in class that are received and understood by the students in the target language without interruption or explanation using L1. A mix of L1 and L2 is not used, and the 10% use of L1 suggested in the ACTFL 90% position statement is used to clarify meaning, and not shift the auditory focus away from the L2. (Teachers who moves back and forth between L1 and L2 are merely sharing general messages in class in two languages and cannot therefore be said to be teaching the language.)
(Credit: Dr. Robert Patrick. Diane Neubauer, Scott Grapin, Robert Harrell, Jim Tripp, Nathaniel Hardt)