Maybe you have noticed the little reminder to the right of this blog page. Maybe you haven’t. These three little C’s emerged out of our CI Latin team’s own attempts to remind ourselves of what our real work is each day: comprehensible, compelling, compassionate. Those three C words serve to remind us. If not these three things, it’s probably a waste of time.
So, for today, notice your students. The noticing can be very simple. Rodriguo, you got your hair cut! It looks good! Sarah, I missed you yesterday. Freddie, you have a different color shoes on every day. That’s amazing. How many colors do you have? Marta, are you okay? You see kind of quiet today. Sam, I heard about the swim meet last night. Congratulations!
This kind of noticing makes connections. It lowers anxiety in the room. It opens the door to the flow of good human interaction. It builds trust. It isn’t difficult. It likely is not happening often enough through the day for it to feel routine, and in a CI classroom these things need to be routine. When you lower the affective filter, you raise the level of acquisition.
This is crucial with novice language learners, but the truth is, it’s important whenever we introduce new words or structures to our students–regardless of their level.
Bonus: if you use icing words (those extra words that are new but not “must know” words)
Do you have some Comprehensible daily rituals through which you engage your students in the target language? Rituals–if introduced for full understanding by everyone in the room (those two pieces are non negotiable in a CI classroom) provide some quick understandable language that helps establish the CI classroom and with daily management issues.
The beginning of the school year–at any level–is a great time to establish these rituals.
Check out this description of four such rituals, and try them out.
Regardless of the level that you are teaching today, it’s always essential to stop mid-stream multiple times during the class and do a comprehension check. There are several ways you can do that.
My most often go-to way of doing comprehension checks is to stop just after a sentence or phrase containing a new word and ask in English: what does XYZ mean? For words that you KNOW are difficult (nothing close to a cognate, for example, or a false cognate) do this every time the word is used.
Comprehension checks. Every level. Every period. Today!