Action Request

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10 thoughts on “Action Request”

  1. Done. Here’s what I responded:
    1) More training in what proficiency is and what that means for teaching and assessment.
    2) Applied linguistics courses – FL teachers are on the whole ignorant of how a language is acquired.
    3) More experience and training in teaching with comprehensible input methods (e.g. TPR, TPRS, MovieTalk, FVR).

  2. And here is my response (a bit more verbose than Eric’s):
    Hi Caroline,
    I think World Language teachers need both theoretical and practical content in order to improve (“better”) our instruction.
    On the one hand, we need to know more about how (second) languages are acquired. In my experience, most teachers are uninformed about this process and tend to see it as simply a process of memorization rather than, as Bill Van Patten indicates, the creation of a mental representation of the language that does not organize itself according to the commonly taught precepts (i.e. rules of grammar) found in textbooks.
    On the other hand, we need courses and workshops that not only demonstrate how to use Comprehensible Input methods (e.g TPR, TPRS, FVR, Movie Talk) but also allow participants to practice in a low-stress environment under the guidance of a coach.
    Combining both theoretical and practical content, courses that investigate what proficiency is and looks like and then provide help in applying that to teaching and assessment would be very helpful.
    Of course, it does nothing to develop such courses and workshops if no one knows about them or is able to benefit from them, so it would also be helpful for ACTFL to develop an active program of outreach with these courses and coaching opportunities into districts and schools at minimal cost. This way teachers who do not belong to ACTFL receive some benefit from the organization, become aware of what ACTFL has to offer members, and – hopefully – become members and participants in the organization. Such a program would provide benefits to all.

  3. I had a few minutes…
    Hi Caroline,
    As a language teacher, I have found one of the best resources in my development to become more effective, has been observing others. I love watching others express brain-based learning strategies in order to inspire language acquisition. Conversely, I have observed teachers that have low-levels of student engagement and are teaching language like it is a regular old subject. To me, this is against the purpose and motivation of the 21st century skills map.
    Programs or workshops that would allow teachers to watch other teachers in action with students would be a huge benefit. I also think that the emphasis on classes taught specific to ACTFL’s 90% Target Language usage statement would be beneficial. This type of training would help other teachers develop teaching and learning that inspires language acquisition in their communities.
    One the goals in our FL department at the middle and high school levels is to create appropriate level immersion-like settings so that students learn how to use the TL. This seems to be the area where teachers need the most support. We would benefit from watching how other language professionals engage the TL with students.
    Michael Coxon
    Spanish Instructor

  4. Alisa Shapiro-Rosenberg

    I wrote this:
    I am interested in aligning my teaching with the way the human brain acquires language- through Comprehensible Input.
    I believe our instruction will improve drastically- indeed our students’ interest, success, retention and pursuit of more languages will follow if we are guided by the SLA research. We know, for example, the practicing speaking at the lower levels does not lead to acquisition. So scripted dialogues, cloze exercises and such must be carefully considered for novices. And yet so many textbooks contain these types of activities.
    ACTFL can best support teachers and ultimately students by understanding how humans come to language- through comprehension first – and train teachers in the strategies that support this most natural of processes.

  5. I wonder if she’s feeling like someone just told a bunch of CI teachers about her request. I wrote today as well:
    Hi Ms. Kelly,
    I hear that you are seeking feedback from language teachers about training opportunities and topics of interest. Here are my top few:
    – Comprehensible input methods and approaches to instruction;
    – Second Language Acquisition research on how languages are acquired, so we can teach with greater effect and our students gain greater language fluency through our programs. Ex, the work of people like Stephen Krashen, Bill VanPatten, Ashley Hastings.
    – I am a Chinese teacher, so how to develop student reading comprehension in non-native, beginning levels is a special topic in my field. (I have been helped a lot by work by Terry Waltz, and I’ve begun to find out about work done at Univ. of Iowa and at College of the Holy Cross on this topic.) I think Japanese teachers would have many of the same issues since their text also includes non-phonetic characters.
    Caroline sent me back a brief reply: Thanks for your thoughtful answer, Diane. CSK

  6. I also had some time… sitting around waiting for parents to trickle in during parent-teacher conferences.
    Hi Caroline!
    As we know that second language acquisition comes from the delivery of comprehensible input, I would absolutely love to see ACTFL share more about what teaching comprehensible input means (based on Krashen’s research), more resources for teachers to begin or enhance their comprehensible input instruction, and more workshops or collaborative communities where we can reflect, share, practice, and coach each other to better deliver comprehensible input in our classrooms.
    The SLA researcher Wynne Wong famously said, “A flood of input must precede a trickle of output.” This is a powerful statement about teaching a foreign language. We have been forcing our students to produce, in speaking and writing, the target language for too long in our classrooms without immersing them in comprehensible input, both with spoken text and written text. As a result, too many of our students feel like they can’t learn the target language and turn away from it. Too many of our students fail and give up. Too many of our students waste hundreds of hours of their time without having acquired much of anything.
    That said, I would love to see ACTFL be assertive with our foreign language teaching community on how the classroom experience needs to reflect SLA theory. Please guide us on how we may deliver a “flood of input” that is compelling and comprehensible to our students.
    I’d like to add one more request about assessment. Knowing that students need to listen and respond to the aural input in the target language, and that this is essential in the process of acquisition, it would be helpful for us to get some guidance on how to assess their listening and responding skills. I understand and appreciate how ACTFL has articulated the 3 modes of communication (interpersonal, interpretive, and presentational). We see how the interpersonal mode captures these listening and responding skills. I would like to see more about how to assess and the importance of assessing students’ interpersonal communication skills, especially since many administrators, for example, have expressed uncertainty in placing interpersonal communication skills as part of the assessment criteria in which our students are graded.
    Thank you so much for asking, Caroline. I greatly look forward to ACTFL leading the way in helping all of us be better teachers of comprehensible input.
    Sean Lawler
    Spanish Teacher
    Northwestern University MSEd

  7. You guys are awesome. Now we need the rest of the group to send in some one minute requests to Caroline. Wouldn’t it be cool if every answer she gets all point her to the same thing – comprehension based instruction? I don’t think she is going to be getting a bunch of answers from the Foreign Language Educators. Unless it’s on tips to help teach relative pronouns. Or how to teach culture using games.

  8. I finally got some thoughts to gel:
    Hello Caroline,
    Thank you for your invitation.
    I look forward to an exploration of the interpersonal mode from the perspective of the caregiver model. If language is truly acquired via messages comprehensible to the learner, what are the implications for the L2 classroom?
    What are strategies that can be used to deliver understandable messages to the beginner?
    What are some strategies for facilitating negotiation of meaning on the part of the beginner?
    What can/must the instructor do to reduce the affective filter so that the understandable messages will be processed at the unconscious level?
    How can we assess student comprehension, formatively and summatively?
    How can we write Can-Do Statements so that they reflect the comprehension and negotiation of meaning aspects of the the interpersonal mode? (Comprehension is recognized in the Interpretative Listening and Interpretive Reading categories. However, the focus of Interpersonal seems to be on communicative output. And, of course, negotiation of meaning is only relevant to the Interpersonal Mode.)
    Nathaniel Hardt

  9. Caroline,
    I heard you are looking for training recommendations. I would like to be trained in Comprehensible Input. I attended a conference in Denver last summer called iFLT and witnessed teachers doing some things I didn’t think were possible with beginning students. The results were amazing.
    Could the ACTFL provide training like that in here Illinois? I can’t afford to travel this summer.
    David Sceggel

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