Comprehensible Input: Only Short Deciphering Periods

ACTFL recommends that foreign language teachers should stay in the target language at least 90% of the time.  I recommend this as well…

…but I don’t recommend that instructional leaders expect students to attempt to figure out what’s being said for the entire class period.

Most students can’t sustain on-task behavior, in an immersion setting, for extended amounts of time.  Being in a situation and not understanding the spoken language is stressful and tiring.  Only highly motivated language learners can sustain any effort to interpert their foreign surroundings for extended amounts of time.  So it’s important to…

…have ‘deciphering periods’ that last only 3-5 minutes.

What do I mean by deciphering periods?  It’s the time a student is bravely trying to figure out what is happening when they’re being exposed to new content.  After a student has invested energy into figuring out or decifering target vocabulary, follow up with a low-stress activity.  Low-stress activities can include:

  • Watching engaging video clips in the TL. (examples)
  • Participating in review activities or tasks that have been epxlained and mastered in the past.
  • Doing some kind of seat work, individually, where student success is anticipated.

Pattern the flow of your class time with plenty of SHORT ‘deciphering periods broken up by low-stress, non-threatening activities.

See what others are saying about Tuesday’s Tips For Staying In The Target Language.

Señor Howard

Señor Howard – www.SenorHoward.com/blog – @HolaSrHoward

Caleb Howard – www.SoMuchHope.com – @calhwrd

Your voice is valuable! Share your target language teaching experiences!

Leave comments below or add to the conversation on twitter by using #TL90plus (for staying in the target language” comments) and/or #langchat (for general language teaching comments).