The Comprehensible Classroom

Dip your toes in CI: Read together

The CI waters are up to your ankles as you stand on the first step descending into the lake of CI. You tried asking a question, and whether it went well or it didn’t, your ankles have adjusted at least a little bit to the temperature. It’s time to take another step:

The next mission is to READ TOGETHER! (You may have already read together with your students as was suggested in Idea #1: Ask a question, but in this post I am going to explain how to do it well.) Specifically, your mission is to read a text aloud together with your students.

Since this post series is intended for teachers that are new to CI teaching and since it is the beginning of the school year, I am going to write from the perspective of a teacher that wants to read a text with their students in a Level 1 class at the beginning of the school year.

Why would you want to read together with your students?

Reading accelerates the rate of acquisition. It builds vocabulary and it strengthens and grows our mental representation of language. Reading is a BIG DEAL. (Speaking of reading, please read Krashen’s The Power of Reading!!!) Reading of all kinds is important for your students on their path to proficiency, and reading together with them plays a key role especially as they are setting out on their journey.

Reading a simple text together with my students has many benefits:


What kinds of texts might you read with your students at the beginning of the year?

Admittedly, typical language classes don’t have a lot of reading in the target language early in the year. This makes it hard for teachers that are new to this way of teaching to picture how they might put this strategy to use. I know that when I was a ‘textbook’ teacher, readings were limited to 1-2 short paragraphs per chapter–not usually in the first chapter–and they were filled with LOTS of words that were new to my students and 20 words from the vocabulary list in the chapter (that my students hadn’t yet acquired).

First and foremost, the texts that you read together should be COMPREHENSIBLE to your students (in a Level 1 class, the vocabulary will be extremely limited and likely include many cognates). It will contain structures that your students are already familiar with, structures for which the meaning is obvious, and just a few new structures for which you can establish meaning as you read with your students.

Given comprehensibility, there are really no limits on the text type that you read. It could be

Likely, this will be a teacher-created or student-created, teacher-corrected text (at the beginning of Level 1, anyway) so that you can tailor it to your students.

Alright. So you’ve got a text. Yahoo! Now what to do? Well…if you have 30 minutes to watch and listen, you can watch this very amateur recording that I made for you 🙂 Then go on and read the rest of this post! (I apologize for the loud noises that occur sporadically throughout the recording; I guess my computer is super sensitive to any movement, and I’m not techy enough to know how to adjust the sound on the recording now.)

The text that I worked with in that recording can be found on this worksheet that I mentioned in the video.

Here are some strategies that I employed:

For more reading strategies to keep reading together with your students novel, I highly recommend seeking out training from Carol Gaab. She has several webinars recorded on Fluency Matters website, and she often presents on reading at workshops and conferences around the country. I have sat in on many of her presentations and attended one of her reading webinars, and I have learned much from her!!