Tuesday, May 24, 2016

CI Methods: an obvious epiphany

Friends, I just figured out why "CI methods" isn't a thing. Yes, I know I've been looking into CI for over a year. Yes, I know you already understand why it's not a thing. Just in case you don't, though, I'm going to share my epiphany. Don't laugh.

CI Methods isn't a thing because CI isn't a methodology. It's material we use to reach a goal.

Think of it this way: there are a lot of kinds of chefs. Some chefs focus on Italian food. Some focus on dessert and we call them pastry chefs. Some focus on making weird foams that no one really wants to eat. All chefs, however, work with food.

CI is food. Without food, we are hungry. Without CI, we do not acquire language.

Maybe we should stop abbreviating it because acronyms feel specific and official and definable. Ditto capitalization. There's no such thing as Comprehensible Input. There's just input that's comprehensible, and input that isn't. As Latin teachers, we've traditionally been doing the latter. Oops. That's like a chef making supper out of clay and paint: it might look like something delicious and nutritious, but it's not.

This lowercase comprehensible input is not a method. It's stuff. Stuff we have to use to do our job as language teachers (or communication facilitators or whatever BVP is calling it this week).

It's the material. It's not the method. We don't talk about "food chefs." All (effective) chefs work with food. Maybe a pastry chef focuses on food that's in dessert form. Maybe an Italian chef focuses on food that tastes like food in Italy. But it's all food, and it all fills your belly. So you can't have a "CI teacher." You can have an effective language teacher- one who works with comprehensible input, or you can have a non-CI teacher who is perhaps still effective, but not at language acquisition. Maybe they're an effective teacher of grammar- that's like being a teacher of food science. Even if you know all the chemistry, though, you still can't make a souffle without some eggs. Lowercase comprehensible input is the eggs. And you don't call a chef who makes souffles an Egg Chef. You call him or her a chef.

I can't believe I just got this. This might be totally incomprehensible to someone who isn't me, but I felt like I needed to get it out. I hope this is helpful for someone else, or perhaps you'll get a laugh.


No comments:

Post a Comment