Making Input Comprehensible

For an excellent introduction to comprehensible input, see this classic explanation by Stephen Krashen. Krashen was very influential in promoting the idea of comprehensible input and much research has been done to validate his ideas.

Perhaps the most well known example is the Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP) model. According to Echevarria, Vogt, and Short (2008), a teacher's preparation, lesson delivery and assessment must be specially designed and adapted to make content comprehensible. Even before the SIOP model was introduced, however, the following techniques were known to be effective:

  • The use of gestures and movement of the body to physically demonstrate or act out the language. For example, to teach the phrase "stand up," the teacher would say the words "stand up" while standing up. Total Physical Response (TPR) is an entire program developed to teach language using body movement
  • Adapting both the speed and intonation of speech
  • Adapting text to the level of the reader
  • Use of "realia" or real objects, pictures or diagrams 
  • Using text to assist in listening or using audio to assist in reading - For example use captions when watching a video or listen to an audio book while reading
  • Building background and activating prior knowledge

Ideas & Strategies