Most researchers agree that comprehensible input is necessary (or at least highly desirable) if students are to acquire language proficiency. Following the work of Dr. Stephen Krashen, FOCAL SKILLS regards comprehensible input as essential. Comprehensible input is Job One for every FOCAL SKILLS teacher.
We have developed or adapted a number of key techniques that enable us to provide large amounts of high-quality comprehensible input to ESL/EFL students:
- The FOCAL SKILLS Movie Technique uses authentic movies to bring an immense variety of meaning into the classroom. By narrating and paraphrasing at the appropriate level of complexity, the teacher can create a rich stream of comprehensible input that is directly related to what the students are seeing and hearing. This input is supported and reinforced by the coherence of the plot, the appeal of the characters, and the affective impact of the scenes.
- In The Talk Show, two teachers converse and interact with the class while carrying out some project or purposeful activity involving realia.
- Interactive Reading is a group activity in which the class, guided by the teacher, explores an authentic text together.
- Personal Reading is an application of Krashen's "Free Voluntary Reading," with a teacher serving as resource person.
- In Free Writing, students write individually on topics of interest and importance to them. The teacher consults with the student and responds in the form of a Focused Rewrite, in which selected portions of the student's work are rewritten in clear, standard English. This technique provides highly focused, personalized comprehensible input, because the rewritten material expresses the student's own thoughts, while the language elements modeled in this way are likely to contain a hefty sample of the student's personal i+1.
- A Mini-Course is a short course on any reasonable topic, with readings, media materials, discussions, presentations, and other standard academic activities.
Many of these techniques are described more fully in these articles.
These techniques are used selectively in the various skill-focused modules.