Presenting New Vocabulary-Comprehensible Input and Circling

The role of the teacher in the presentation of new vocabulary is primarily to provide the students with comprehensible input that will help students to build on their current understanding of vocabulary in the foreign language (i) and expand their knowledge through comprehensible input (i +1).  This is Krashen’s Comprehensible Input Hypothesis.


The teacher must be very aware of the vocabulary, particularly verbs and nouns, that the students have acquired previously and use this vocabulary along with visuals to present the vocabulary that is centered around a particular theme.  This will keep the learning of new vocabulary in the target language.

The teacher first presents several sentences linking the words that the students know (i) with new vocabulary (i+1).   Then, the teacher…

  • asks yes/no questions
  • asks either/or questions
  • asks a questions that requires negative response
  • asks questions that require one-word answers (questions words are used here)
  • asks an open-ended, detail oriented question question that reuires students to add to the “story”

This technique is referred to as circling (as the questions circle around the new word and eventually land on the student production).  Here is an example of this technique that is presenting vocabulary for places in the city.  Several sentences and images have been produced by the teacher linking verbs that students know and a place in the city where someone may do that activity.  Assume that the teacher is referring to an image of a boy studying along side a picture of a library.

  • Is John studying?  Is John studying at the library?  John is studying at the library, isn’t he?
  • Is John studying or playing football at the library? Is John studying at the hotel or at the library?
  • Is Mary studying at the Library?  Is John sleeping at the library?  Is John studying at the mall?
  • Who is studying at the library?  Where is John studying?
  • At what time does John study at the library?  Who studies at the library with John?

At this point students have taken the input  and assimilated it into their L2 vocabulary (uptake).  Their ability to create a detail at the end of the questioning is evidence that they understand and can use the new word, particularly if the last two questions are asked without reference to the pictures.

4 responses to “Presenting New Vocabulary-Comprehensible Input and Circling

  1. Pingback: Introduce New Vocabulary AND Stay In The Target Language (part 2 – “circling”) | Tuesday's Tips For Staying in The Target Language

  2. Thank you for this post! As I am experimenting with using CI in more cognitively rewarding ways as a catalyst for student production, your insights and practice were right on point! They reminded me of one of my goals this year: simplicity. At the end of the day, teaching is one big Socratic conversation where understanding is constructed and meaning is negotiated. Here is something I am curious about in terms how your front-load input: Do you pre-plan the input/ vocabulary students will be expose to or do you allow it to occur naturally? I ask because I met with a colleague who teaches language. She has been trained to teach French using a method widely employed in Canadian schools. She mentioned that she has to craftily plan the input almost in a scripted manner. So I was curious if you are a fan of that method. In terms of my methodology, I have a plan, but usually allow student inquiry to guide most of the concepts we learn (there is a balance). I have started providing them reference sheets where they write their own incidental learning of vocabulary as part of their taking ownership of their own learning . This is one method I use and hers was interesting as well. Just curios as to what other do.

    • I plan the vocabulary in advance because I like to use visuals. Sometimes I do a conversation circle where the language comes out organically based on the interest of students.

  3. Pingback: How I Completely Flipped The Way I Teach Grammar | One Chic Teach

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