No matter how many years you have taught with comprehensible input, all teachers have had an energetic class or two that causes you to tear your hair out to figure out how to give them comprehensible input. It can be due to the time of the day that your class meets (right before lunch on a Friday was always tricky for me!) or just the dynamic of the class. It can also be frustrating when you know that students have to listen in order to acquire as much as language as they can, but with energetic classes, it seems like they aren’t listening. I wanted to detail some activities that allow students to get as much input as they can with input:
- Dictations: you can state sentences in the target language and students write them down in the target language as well. I typically find these sentences from a reading activity that students will complete later. Then, as you review, you can also sneak in a quick grammar explanation or remind them that some words have accents. (Don’t go too in depth on this because you will probably lose them. Choose one point that you want to highlight it and highlight it in all of the sentences.) As I wanted to give input at the beginning of class, I would start with dictations at the beginning of the class with energetic classes at the end of the day. Some other variations of dictations include reading a short paragraph once or twice and have students record words that they remember in one column and words that they don’t remember in another column. Then, they can pair up and compare their sheets.
- Draw what I am describing: I will describe a music video before they watch it and they draw what I describe. After that, we watch the video, and students are able to match up what they drew and what is happening in the video. You can also extend this to draw a reading before students read it then they have to pair up the paragraphs or sentences with their pictures. If this is an extended activity, I also break out the crayons, colored pencils or markers and use it to discuss colors. This has worked well with my energetic classes at the end of the day. Then, you can also have them try to remember all of the details from the pictures in writing. For novice classes, they can also label the picture.
- MovieTalk: MovieTalk can be engaging, but I have found that a little accountability helps with my more enthusiastic classes. I give my students a worksheet with notes to take with key words as we go. Then, I will have students use those words in a sentence or two later to give a purpose for the notes. Another thing that I like to do is hand out fake jewels to have students answer two questions. Each student picks two fake jewels then they give them to me when they answer a question. That way I can make sure everyone participates, and they can choose their own question.
- Stations: I have blogged about this extensively, but once I got into a groove with stations by keeping the same pattern and filling in the blanks with a new reading or listening activity, this was my go-to activity on Fridays with my freshman class before lunch. It also kept them moving which seemed to help the class go by faster for them. (If you are looking for stations specifically for novels, I have also explained that as well.)
- Reading is also a crucial part of comprehensible input. You can always give comprehension questions. Sometimes enthusiastic classes really appreciate something straightforward like a reading and comprehension activity. If you are 1:1 with technology, have students create the comprehension questions through a Google Form. I recently read a description from Emily Huff where she gives students emojis, and they have to find a part from the text that makes them react in the same way. I loved how much my students went back to reference the text in this activity. Plus, who doesn’t love emojis?! Also, I haven’t tried this activity, but Samara recommended it at her NECTFL conference. I love everything she suggests! She said to have people annotate the text with emojis. This sounds like it would be a hit!
- Write and discuss: I love how effective this can be to get my students talking and brainstorming. We did this after watching a video, and it really allowed students to synthesize what they had learned. Plus, since students are also writing, it keeps enthusiastic students a bit calmer. Again, this also mirrors what is done in other classes which can calm students.
This isn’t the only activities you can do, but these are the best to provide a lot of input when you have a squirrelly class! Interactive online games like GimKit, Quizziz and Quizlet Live can be very engaging for repetition of concepts. PearDeck Vocabulary is fun for students to practice key words or phrases as well. Also, when your students are ready for output I recommend puedos idea from Laura Sexton for enthusiastic classes.