Back To Todd & “Which Form Of Input Is Most Effective For Facilitating L2 Acquisition?”

I took a break.

During the past 2-3 months I haven’t continued the series on CI with Todd.  However, I NEED TO GET BACK TO IT because at the end of each of those posts I listed some questions/discussion topics that I promised to address.  Do you remember them?

Todd will help me discuss and/or continue to discuss…:

  1. …the nature of input and comprehensible input.

  2. …different forms of input.

  3. …a qualitative analysis of the various forms of input and their usefulness in facilitating foreign language acquisition.

  4. …making input comprehensible.

  5. …how making input comprehensible and meaningful (to foreign language students) can cause language acquisition “magic” to occur.

  6. …obstacles to making input comprehensible in a classroom full of students.

  7. …strategies for overcoming the making-input-comprehensible-obstacles that exist in a foreign language classroom.

  8. …a comprehensive rubric for assessing the effectiveness of a foreign language teacher.

In today’s post I’d like to tackle #3: “a qualitative analysis of the various forms of input.”

FIRST, I’ll list the forms of input that I’ve delineated in the series so far.  Feel free to click through the links if you need a refresher on their definitions and usefulness for facilitating L2 acquisition.

Forms of extralinguistic input:

Forms of linguistic input:

(*Things to keep in mind about the above list:

  1. I don’t think it’s a comprehensive list.
  2. You shouldn’t think of this list as a well researched piece of language acquisition theory.  I’m not an expert in the field.  I don’t even know the names of the real/academic terms used to talk about these forms of input.  They are just terms I’ve developed as I’ve tried to reflect on my own practice.)

SECOND, I’ll confess that I’ve changed my mind about this whole ‘qualitative analysis’ thing.  When I first started this series, I thought that some of the forms of input were more useful (or effective) for facilitating L2 acquisition than others.  However, several months later, I no longer think this is true.  Here’s what I think now:

  1. Each of the forms of input have equal degrees of potential to help facilitate L2 acquisition.  (How, you may ask, do they help facilitate L2 acquisition? They can be used to make a piece of incomprehensible L2 input meaningful through *PAIRING. See this post, Vocab List Analogy, for more on *PAIRING.)
  2. In an L2 immersion environment NONE of the forms of input will help facilitate L2 acquisition UNLESS certain factors are in place. 1) The learner notices and processes the instance of *PAIRING. 2) The instructor *pairs effectively.  (An effective *pair happens when an isolated and noticed piece of incomprehensible L2 is PAIRED with it’s exact extralinguistic match OR when a teacher uses comprehensible L2 to help a learner make sense of a piece of incomprehensible L2. See this post, A Common Teaching In The Target Language Mistake, for more details on effective pairing.)

Based on these two statements we can draw the following pedagogical conclusion:

A teacher should feel confident using any form of input for pairing as long as she pairs effectively and invests reasonable effort to increase the chance that a learner will pay attention to each instance of pairing.


Señor Howard

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

Caleb Howard – www.SoMuchHope.com – @calhwrd

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