Friday, January 31, 2014

Interviewing Students provides Compelling Comprehensible Input

Each week I notice more people tweeting, blogging, and talking about teaching languages with Comprehensible Input.  (Actually, shouldn't ALL subjects be taught with Comprehensible Input?)

One component that will make CI even better is CCI - Compelling Comprehensible Input.  What is "compelling" to our students? That's easy - hearing about themselves and their classmates.

With the start of new classes in our second semester, I chose to experiment with student interviews.  My upper level class has 28 students and if I interview two students per week, I'll be able to talk to all the students, with plenty of extra time to spare.  

The interview consists of a student volunteering to sit in the front of the room on the orange swivel chair.  Then I proceed to ask questions about their job, their pets, school classes, sports, where they would go tomorrow if they could choose any place in the world, their favorite movie, and anything that happens to come to mind during the interview.  If I don't know the student's family, I wait until the student mentions a family member from another question, and then may expand on that.

I adjust the amount of scaffolding and assistance I give the student during the interview based on their proficiency level.  My job is to make the student shine by encouraging them to talk about things THEY want to share with the class, stretching them just a bit in their speaking to show themselves that, yes, they can communicate in Spanish, and to keep the activity safe and comfortable for all.  Other students are welcome to ask questions during the interview.  Thus far, the natural curiosity of the students has resulted in a listening/speaking activity that provides compelling comprehensible input.

Immediately after the interview, the students write a short composition about their classmate on the information they learned from the interview.  

Thus far we've had two student interviews, (1/24 & 1/30). This activity is quickly becoming one of my favorites because:
1) the students and I become more connected to each other because we learn a lot from the interviews,
2) the writings are short and I can quickly read & comment on them to learn their strengths and weaknesses in writing,
3) it is Compelling Comprehensible Input! 


  1. WOW! Great idea. Thanks for sharing- I think that I'm going to try this in my room- Spanish 2

  2. I loved your activity . I wonder how old are your students because I'm not sure if my teenagers would open up. Of course there is the volunteer point, but adolescents can be very cruel.

    1. It is a class of 28; 16 seniors, 3 sophomores, and 9 juniors. I am actually surprised how easy it was to get volunteers. Some that volunteered are rather quiet in class, and others are outgoing so it didn't surprise me that they volunteered.