What is Comprehensible Input?
Comprehensible Input is a language acquisition strategy suggested by Stephen Krashen. Comprehensible Input is using what you can understand in the target language both written or spoken. There are things a teacher can do to make the language more understandable to students. We are going to discuss some of these strategies.
Comprehensible Input Techniques
First, the amount of language that is understood can be enhanced by hand gestures, pictures, diagrams, or other visual clues. For example, if the passage you are working with is about an elephant, it would be helpful to have pictures of an elephant. Pictures are extremely useful when teaching new vocabulary.
Another strategy for helping students have a better comprehension of a language passage is to activate prior knowledge. A class discussion on the general topic to find out what students already know and what areas they don’t know. This is a perfect time to teach new key vocabulary words as well.
Teaching with Comprehensible Input
Whole-class instruction is great for using these strategies since there is more than likely a wide range of language skills in the classroom. Students can learn from each other and work together to make a passage more comprehensible to all. This also gives the more confident students a chance to practice their language output. While offering the rest of the class yet another listening opportunity.
In my opinion, one of the most important parts of language learning is self-cognition, the ability to think about one’s thinking. Students need to be able to honestly assess what they are able to understand as well as which words they don’t know yet. When a student can identify the way they learn best, they will then have a tool they can use repeatedly in their education (not just in language learning). I always stress to my students that just because something seems hard now, it won’t always be that way. We just have to start with what they do understand and continue building the knowledge until their level of comprehensible input increases as well.