Aaron Myers’ 25 Ways to Find or Create Comprehensible Input

edll_headerAaron Myers, the creator of The Everyday Language Learner, is the most appropriate person to encourage those of you who feel stuck in your learning process. An ardent language learner himself, Aaron created his blog merely out of the need to inspire, inform and help other learners navigate the road to fluency in another language. Aaron was generous to share one of his articles with Chinese Tools. Enjoy and get inspired!


25 Ways to Find or Create Comprehensible Input

In my last post I promised ten ways to find or create comprehensible input.

As I started writing though, ten seemed like just a beginning and so I kept writing.

Comprehensible input is too important to restrict to ten ideas.

As well, I find that I learn the language in one of three settings and so it seemed fitting to divide this post into sections reflecting those environments.

And I learn language in a community setting, when I head out to be with native speakers in an informal way.

Each of these settings is different and present their own unique challenges for obtaining comprehensible input.  Regardless of the setting though, it is important as independent language learners that you find or create the comprehensible input that you need to learn the language.

It is your responsibility.

Before I begin, if you are not sure why you need to find or create comprehensible input, I would encourage you to go back and read Comprehensible Input, my last post.

As well, for the sake of brevity, I have tried to do my best to offer brief summaries of the ideas below.

If I or others have written about them elsewhere, I have tried to include a link so that you can get more in depth information if you would like.

The Community Setting

  1. The Grand Tour Question: The grand tour question is asked about a specific personal narrative of a person’s life. Examples could be questions about a favorite childhood memory, about a national event that everyone experienced, or about a future event. Questions about the past will give you answers using the past forms of grammar, questions about the future will give you future forms. The key to creating comprehensible input is to ask multiple people the same question. Each will give you their own story about the same topic. Grammar forms and much of the vocabulary will be repeated. Asking this question to four or five people in the same week and by the the time you are listening to the last one, your comprehension will have improved significantly. If it’s possible, record these narratives for later listening.
  2. Strategic Shopping: Admit it. You love to shop. For language learning, shopping strategically will increase the amount of comprehensible input you receive. Chose an item that you need (want) to buy. Before you head out to shop for it, prepare yourself by looking up key vocabulary and writing down some key questions. Then proceed to the first store and ask the clerk about the product. Listen intently. Ask questions. Ask them to repeat what they said if you need them to. Ask them to write new words down. Thank them and leave. Go to store two. Repeat the same process with a new clerk. Thank them a leave. Go to store three. Repeat the process.
  3. Dumb/Smart Questions: One of my favorites, the Dumb/Smart question is dumb because you already know the answer to the question you are going to ask and it’s smart because this background knowledge gives you a a much greater chance of understanding what the person says and thus, receiving comprehensible input Watch.
  4. Take Control: One of the best things you can do in the community setting to ensure you receive comprehensible input is to take control of the conversations. You can do this with some of the ideas above, but you can also do this by just asking people to slow down, or repeat things or to give examples.  Watch More.

If you have any questions about these, please ask them in the comment section and I will do my best to answer them there and would ask for your input as well.

Together we can create a great conversation that will help all of us as everyday language learners.

The Personal Setting