Todd (The Stick Figure) & A Series On Comprehensible Input – Part 1

Over the last few months, in my spare time, I’ve been having fun thinking about things like input, comprehensible input and extralinguistic input.  Call me crazy (or a language acquisition nerd) but I’ve even gotten up in the middle of the night to write down thoughts I’ve had about it.

Disclaimer: I haven’t taken the time to do any research on what’s already been written about the topic.  So none of the stuff that I’ll be sharing in this series is researched-based or formal/academic writing.  I’m just having fun sharing my own reflections on the nature of input and how it’s affecting the way I teach my elementary-aged, novice, L2 students.

So here I go with Part 1:


Say, “Hello!” to Todd.

person


The words that Todd hears or reads…whatever symbols he sees…whatever gestures he interprets…can be called INPUT.

input

 


Todd can receive input from another person.

input to listener from person

 


Todd can receive input from a T.V. screen.

input can be received from television

 


Todd can receive input (in written form) from a book, magazine or from his iPhone.

input can be received in written form

 


Todd can receive input in the form of another person’s words.

input can be verbal input from person

 


Todd can receive input (from another person) even though they don’t use words.

input can be nonverbal from person

 


Todd can receive input when he reads words on a sign.

input can be from words

 


Todd can receive input even when a sign displays no words.

input can be non verbal and not written

 


Todd can receive small amounts of input. (i.e. one word or one phrase)

input has quantitative properties

 


Todd can receive large amounts of input. (i.e. a two-hour academic lecture)

there can be little input or lots of input

 


One form of input can affect Todd’s ability or willingness to respond to another form of input.

Todd input


Input, that Todd receives, can cause him to feel happy.

image

 


Input, that Todd receives, can cause Todd to feel sad.

input can make you sad

 


Todd can have an experience of understanding the input he receives. (In other words, the input can be comprehensible.)

input can be comprehensible

 


Todd can have an experience of not understanding the input he receives.  (In other words, the input can be incomprehensible.)

input can be incomprehensible

 


When the input Todd receives is his native language (L1), it is almost always comprehensible. (Like when he hears his friend say, “I like your shirt.”)

input in your native language can be comprehensible

 


On occasion, Todd may experience instances when his native language (L1) is incomprehensible. (Like when his calculus-nerd-friend states the Quotient Rule:

“y prime equals the denominator times the derivative of the numerator minus the numerator times the derivative of the denominator, all over the denominator squared.”)

input in your native language can be incomprehensible

 


A language that Todd has never heard before (L2) will generally be incomprehensible to him.

input in a language other than your native language can be incomprehensible

 


There can be instances when the teeniest part of the language that Todd has never heard before (L2) becomes meaningful.  (Like when Todd sneezes and a native L2 speaker immediately says, “Bless you,” in L2.  Both Todd and the native L2 speaker smile at each other because they each experienced a moment where the L2 was incomprehensible, however there was available extralinguistic input that made the interaction meaningful.)

input in a language other than your native language can be incomprehensible

 


A foreign language teacher’s goal is to enable Todd to meaningfully enter an L2-world.

the goal of fascilitating language acquisition

The conversation is just beginning.

Over the next several weeks, the posts on Tuesday’s Tips For Staying In The Target Language will delineate the massive implications that these simple sketches have had on my foreign language teaching practice.

Todd will help me discuss my developing (and non-research-based) thoughts on…:

  • …the nature of input and comprehensible input.
  • …different forms of input and comprehensible input.
  • …a qualitative analysis of the various forms of comprehensible input and their usefulness in facilitating foreign language acquisition.
  • …making input comprehensible.
  • …how making input comprehensible and meaningful (to foreign language students) can cause language acquisition “magic” to occur.
  • …obstacles to making input comprehensible in a classroom full of students.
  • …strategies for overcoming the making-input-comprehensible-obstacles that exist in a foreign language classroom.
  • …a comprehensive rubric for assessing the effectiveness of a foreign language teacher.

STAY TUNED!

 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

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