Thursday, March 31, 2016

CI is the New Buzzword

Recently at a conference, a fellow-CI user attended a session which was publicized as one involving CI (the words "Comprehensible Input" were in the title). To her surprise, she found that the session really had nothing to do with CI, as the speaker was focusing on full immersion, forced output, and no translation into L1 for the establishment of meaning. Yet, the speaker was saying that these were all components of a CI classroom. 

The term "CI" has become the new buzzword in world language education, but unfortunately, I do not think that many people who use the term truly understand it. On the one hand, I am happy to see that many teachers are embracing CI, but I also do not like the fact that CI has become "trendy." As I write this, please do not think that I wish to play "CI police" or that I own the market on CI, since I too still am learning about Comprehensible Input. By no means am I a full expert on the topic. 

In many occasions, however, a misinformation regarding CI is disseminated. This may be the result of a number of reasons. Now there is a difference between those who knowingly use the term CI but possess a limited understanding of it and acknowledge that they want to learn more about it vs. those who use the word generously but think it to be something else. I feel that there are many out there who possess an academic knowledge of CI but not a heart understanding of it.

Ways to learn about CI:
  1. Attend a local CI workshop in your area. Here is a listing of Blaine Ray TPRS workshops, and Laurie Clarcq has an updated list on her blog
  2. Read CI blogs. On the sidebar, there is a listing of CI blogs which I regularly read.
  3. Join CI communities, either online or in person.
  4. Attend national CI conferences, such as NTPRS and IFLT.
  5. Collaborate with other CI users, either online or in person. This is key. I really do not think that I would be the CI teacher which I am today if it were not for a my community of local CI users.
Although learning about CI through reading blogs is helpful, in my opinion, it is not enough, as it is limited; blogs can only go so far in teaching about CI. I cannot say it enough: one of the best ways to understand Comprehensible Input is to experience it first hand learning another language which you do not know from a teacher using CI and to experience all components of the language (listening, reading, writing, speaking) in a CI manner. I always point to my experiences with Blaine Ray at my first TPRS workshop where I learned German and with Betsy Paskvan at two NTPRS conferences where I learned Japanese. The first hand experiential knowledge of CI is key, because you will understand how your own students feel in your classroom.

I have found that in my own experience that the more I learn about CI, the more I teach using it, and most importantly, the more I myself experience it, the deeper my knowledge of CI becomes. I hope the same for you too.

1 comment:

  1. Agreed- it's impossible to understand HOW to use CI and also the magic of it if you haven't been a learner yourself, even if only for an hour or so. At my TPRS workshop we spent time with Chinese, Spanish, and French. It was a million times clearer and got to my brain better than seeing similar demonstrations in Latin. I think at our Latin conferences we need to find a way to give attendees the real CI experience: i.e., we can't be using Latin to demonstrate every time. Even Ancient Greek would be better.

    To another point- not everything we do is CI, and that's okay! It doesn't have to be! I try to be conscious about when I'm using CI, when I'm using bits of TPRS that aren't really CI, and when I'm totally not touching CI at all. We all use a lot of different tools to do what we do, and calling them all CI methods would be like calling everything in a toolbox a hammer.