A list of definitions from a listserv

I think there have been a number of interesting points brought up in this so
far rather unwieldy discussion. I’ve tried to summarize as best I can.
Perhaps others can further clarify any points that they feel I haven’t
captured correctly.


View A. Pacing is set by others; we have to maintain a certain pace.
View B. Pacing is determined by the progress of the students and negotiated
with others.

Comprehensible Input:

A. Comprehensible Input means having the students understand the gist of
what’s going on. It is not necessary that they know what each “piece” means
to acquire the language.
B. Comprehensible Input means having the students understand the precise
meaning of each piece of language as well as what the whole means. They need
that to acquire the language.


 A. I+1 occurs when students are given language that is just a little bit
harder than what they can understand immediately. Semantic understanding of
the i+1 language comes after some work with that language, not as it is
presented in class. [I’m not really stating this clearly — can someone
B. I+1 occurs when students are given language that is a little bit beyond
what they have acquired. Semantic understanding of that I+1 language is
provided by the teacher through English when it is presented.

Appropriate content for beginning levels

A. Beginners should learn a large number of vocabulary words. That’s how
they learn the language.
B. Beginners should focus on the highest frequency words in natural
structure (aka sheltered vocabulary). They acquire the grammar of the
language by understanding what these frequent words mean in different
combinations and permutations and build a mental model of the language into
which they can plug additional vocabulary items.

Use of L1 in the classroom

A. L1 should never be used in the classroom, or only very sparingly if at
all. Instead, non-linguistic means (context, situation, gestures, mime,
pictures, etc.) should be used to convey the meaning of the target language
that students don’t understand. If a teacher uses L1 to translate, s/he is
not giving “comprehensible input”.
B. L1 should be used as the primary means to clarify the meaning of all
utterances that are not understood, because other means take more time and
are less precise.  This is what makes the input comprehensible.


A. Students must output the language in order to acquire it. TL output is
useful to gauge comprehension and acquisition.
B. Students need not output the language to acquire it. TL output is useful
to gauge progress in acquisition, but is not needed to gauge whether input
is comprehended nor to have students acquire the language.

Terry T Waltz., Ph.D.
NYS Certified Teacher of Mandarin Chinese
Educational Consulting and Materials

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