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Les Berbères & Using Authentic Sources in the CI Classroom

For all that I love about comprehensible input in the classroom, there are definitely some challenges that it presents along the way. In my most humble opinion, CI doesn't always lend well to being able to expose students to authentic sources. I've found a strategy that really has been successful in training their ears, and perhaps most importantly, reducing the anxiety that comes with the speed and complexity of authentic sources.

Here is a short clip of what I did with my level 3 Honors class. We have been talking a lot about communities, and we spent a decent amount of time in previous classes discussing the Berbères in North Africa.

This leads me to the biggest tip of all (another gem I picked up from my reading specialist training): The most valuable thing you can do to promote comprehension of a text is to develop and access students' prior knowledge.

"Tapping Schema," as the fancy folks in the literacy world refer to it, is, at its core, getting students to establish a purpose for their engagement with a text and to start making connections between the text and what they already know BEFORE they start reading/listening. Our goal is to get them to take that natural and innate practice and make it explicit and intentional: to transfer the cognitive to the meta-cognitive. Then, just like when a child is first learning to read, they can worry less about sounding out each word and more about capturing the meaning of the text and being able to do something with that information.


Here are the steps that I used (with a few modifications) in this video that I encourage you to do:

  1. Find a relatively short, authentic video on YouTube on the topic which has been discussed in comprehensible language during previous classes. I would say that 5 minutes is a maximum.

  2. Pre-watch the video and make 8 to 10 comprehension questions using much of the language taken directly from the video. It is also helpful if those questions stay in order of appearance in the video. Split those questions into two groups, but alternating numbers so as to keep each group in order of appearance (for example, even numbers and odd numbers).

  3. Introduce the video by giving the students the first group of questions to preview together. Confirm that they comprehend all of the questions, and begin to make some predictions, both about the answers to those questions and the general purpose of the video.

  4. Tell students to just watch/listen to the video the first time through. This is important that they not try to write down answers this time. Play the video through once at normal speed.

  5. Review the first set of questions AGAIN, ensuring comprehension. There is a good chance that they were able to spot a few of the answers already after the first viewing.

  6. Play the video again, but adjust the playback speed to 75%. This time, have students write answers to the comprehension questions. After viewing, review answers! Praise them nonstop for having been able to understand a real, authentic video in the target language! This is a HUGE win that should be celebrated!

  7. Distribute the second set of comprehension questions, review them together to ensure comprehension, and assign them for homework. This will give them a third repetition (on their own) of the video, while establishing a new purpose in answering the new questions.

That's it!

Anyway, I hope this helps. Somebody give it a try and let me know how it worked for you and your kids!


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