Input vs. Output 1

This content from a recent comment by Jody on
cannot be ignored so I am reposting it here as a blog entry:
…in TPRS and the CI methods that “we” use, negotiation of meaning by the instructor and student are constant:
Teacher asks question. Students answers correctly. Teacher checks for comprehension anyway. Student answers confirming comprehension.
Teacher asks question. Student gives sign for “low/no comprehension”. Teacher modifies speech, gestures, explains, clarifies, etc. to increase student comprehension. Student responds. Teacher checks for comprehension.
Teacher asks question. Student responds with incomprehensible or incorrect answer. Teacher uses variety of “meaning-centered” responses to student to increase their comprehension and give them more input.
TPRS/CI methods depend on some sort of “output” from student to continue conversation–or target language would just be noise from the teacher. Output from student stimulates the next Input from teacher which leads to output from student, etc. It’s called a conversation. By listening to the output from the student, I (teacher) know how to modify/engineer the next input to guarantee best comprehension scenario. If not, what’s the point?
There is a complete paradigm disconnect between them and us in my opinion. Both sides hear the same information and interpret it correctly within their paradigms. For instance, I have observed (on a daily basis in my shared classroom) a teacher who uses the 90% target language goal. Unfortunately, students comprehend almost nothing except for the very top kids and they miss a ton of stuff–but she’s using the TL.
I also notice that most trad teachers believe that they are completely following the ACTFL standards. They interpret the meaning of those standards very differently than we do and will argue their interpretation to the death.
Paradigm difference: input leads to output or output leads to output? Huge difference. I have a difficult time arguing the standards or anything else when the philosophical foundation of how language is acquired is so different between camps. It seems like a waste of time to me.



9 thoughts on “Input vs. Output 1”

  1. I believe that this is the most succinct and powerful description of TPRS/CI that I have read. I am keeping it to refer to and to share (with Jody’s permission por favor). It is the essence of what we need to remember and communicate to others about the how and the why of way that we teach.
    with love,

  2. Honestly Jody – I too would like to have permission to use your words/thoughts in future in my descriptions on my website?:) I appreciate (as always) your contributions to the discussions….

  3. This is so obvious once you’re tuned in to it, and yet many teachers seem completely oblivious to the fact that their students do not understand what they’re saying. Last year I was working with a group of post-baccalaureate students, who’d been sitting in English language classes for seven or eight or more years (for some of them it may have been Chinese for all the good it did them). I wanted to prepare them to give a guided visit of our town to a group of British “tourists”. I asked a friend who speaks beautiful English to give them the tour. She did a great job, rattled off all kinds of interesting tidbits about the town’s history and architecture, and the kids were completely lost, bored, and quickly stopped making the effort to understand her. I then hired the town’s official guide to give the tour to my students. His English was nowhere as good as hers, but he spoke slowly, used very simple structures and vocabulary. The kids were hanging on every word, because they could understand what he was saying. When they gave their own tour, there was a lot of “negotiation of meaning ” going on, but they came out of it feeling far more confident about their ability to communicate in English.

    1. We get observed every five minutes in our district, and my last formal professional observation was by Denver Public Schools LEAP observor, who is actually a real language teacher, a twin soul with Diana Noonan, and knows Krashen at that high level Jody does. So she (Meredith Richmond) comes in to observe me a few weeks ago and guess what she rightly dinged me on? That’s right! Making sure my kids understood me. I can’t imagine them not understanding me, though! It’s just so weird! I speak French! Why don’t they?

      1. :o) We so often forget that language is painting a picture in someone else’s mind, heart and soul. We already have the picture, and the paints and the canvas and the brushes!!!!! The kids are just beginning to recognize a few colors.
        with love,

  4. Jody,
    Thank you for stating so clearly what I have been struggling to describe to my colleagues. I, too, would like your permission to refer to your words and share with my colleagues and administrators.

  5. One of the things I really like about this blog is this exchange and articulation of our thinking about such a complex/simple subject (if you know what I mean). If my comments can be of help to anybody, feel free to use them as you need. They are just thoughts–which come out of many years of experience and study–but just thoughts which are always up for revision if reality demands it.
    To be truthful, the “guy from Ohio” really touched a nerve in me. When people (including us) throw around terms like “negotiation of meaning”, “comprehensible input”, “90% target language use”, those people need to be specific about what they mean–whether they are condemning or defending a practice. Edujargon is meaningless in these conversations; specific examples are much more helpful.
    I am thankful for this stimulating and trusting environment where people reflect, think, and collaboratively practice together to, hopefully, acquire these “notions” in our guts–not just our heads. It’s so much more interesting than sharing the latest “cool project” idea for learning indirect objects, no?

  6. I think I know what nerve “Ohio” hit in you Jody. At least, the one that got me riled – the one where he talked about it being reasonable to expect “comprehensible output” from kids early on in their study. Riiight! Sure! My students should be able to speak French in level 1, right? Why not?

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