It’s a word that’s been floating around academia for decades, and we’re bringing it to you: comprehensible input. If you’re struggling or plateauing, listen up! It’s the most important component in your Spanish lessons that is going to help you learn consistently at the right pace. According to Stephen Krashen, the researcher who created it, it’s the key to learn a language.
What is comprehensible input?
Simply put, comprehensible input means that what you’re learning is something that you are able to understand, and it’s a word that comes from Krashen’s theories on second language acquisition.
Krashen theorized that in order for students to learn, they should be working with material that is slightly above their current level. If it’s at their level, they’ve already mastered it and it can be too easy. If it’s too hard, it can make students feel frustrated and helpless. When it’s slightly harder than their current level, they can more confidently learn something new.
i + 1
The term he used in this theory is i + 1, meaning that it’s just one level above their current one. This way, their input, or what their seeing and hearing, is comprehensible (thus the name comprehensible input!) but just challenging enough that they are growing their vocabulary.
It’s important to note that since this is regarding input, it focuses on comprehensible listening and reading skills. With this method, students will naturally try to use context clues and infer the meaning of unfamiliar words because they have enough context that they can understand on their own.
Using this theory to learn Spanish at home
This theory is particularly important for students that are trying to learn Spanish at home! Schools have curriculum set up according to this theory to best assist students in their learning process. This means that you, as a student in a classroom, don’t have to worry too much about this theory since your teacher is using it to help you.
When you’re at home, it’s important to know about comprehensible input so you’re appropriately challenging yourself when there isn’t a teacher looking over you. By keeping the handy formula i + 1 in mind, you can find materials that will help you keep learning at the pace that’s right for you.