Category Archives: Unknown

111: Comprehension-Based Communicative Language Teaching

What have you heard about Comprehension-Based Communicative Language Teaching?  Is this what you are doing in your classroom?  In this episode I want to unpack exactly what CCLT is and is not. Luckily there is an incredibly useful chapter on this topic in the newly published book “Honing Our Craft.”  It gives us all the info we need to answer the question “What is and What Is not Comprehension-Based Communicative Language Teaching?”  That’s actually the title of chapter 4.

Honing Our Craft

  • Edited by Dr. Florecia Henshaw (Director of Advanced Spanish at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign) & Dr. Kim Potowski (Professor of Spanish Linguistics at the University of Illinois at Chicago)
  • 12 chapters written by educators for educators, with a focus on bridging the gap between research and practical application.
  • Practical applications and suggestions for language educators that they can adapt to their particular contexts. 
  • Use this link and the discount code JOSHUA25HOC to save 25% on the book.

Comprehension-Based Communicative Language Teaching(CCLT)

Context and Origin of CCLT

  • Role of Input
  • Krashen’s Input Hypothesis
  • Interaction and production also play a role, but the essential role of input is undeniable.
  • Presentation-Practice-Production (PPP)
    • popular because it is conceptually easy to understand
    • easy to grade and assess
    • accuracy is main criteria for success
  • Approaches need to be more aligned with how language is acquired (communication and understanding messages) and implicit knowledge, rather than explicit, PPP

Key Terms and Misconceptions

  • Communication is not synonymous with oral production (reflection of PPP)
  • move input to the center of the curriculum 
  • Production and Grammar are not neglected (focus on form, structured input)


  • What if my textbook follows the PPP approach?
    • modify activities to give hace a communicative goal
    • use the text in a chapter as a point of departure
  • What if my exams are grammar-based?
    • set aside time for grammar explanation 
    • promote friendly conversations with colleagues.
  • Do…
    • speak the target language most of the class time.
    • make input activities meaningful
  • Don’t…
    • forget that accuracy is developed gradually
    • forget comprehension is communication
    • plan classes around grammar points, grammar is a tool, not a goal

Remember to use this link and the discount code JOSHUA25HOC to save 25% on the book.

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Input and Output in the Language Classroom

Language acquisition is a multifaceted process, shaped by various factors and methodologies. The ideas of input and output often play a significant role in any discussion of how language is acquired.  Let’s look at the intricate interplay between input and output, drawing insights from the book “Common Ground” by Florencia Henshaw and Maris Hawkins.

Input and Output in the Language Classroom (French, Spanish)

How is Language Acquired?

At its core, language acquisition is an implicit process, unconsciously constructing a linguistic system by connecting form and meaning based on the input we receive. It’s the subconscious work that takes place while we’re immersed in comprehending messages, operating beyond our conscious control. Language acquisition thrives on grasping the portions of input that assist in decoding the intended message, as opposed to consciously dissecting language rules.

Communication, conversely, revolves around the deliberate interpretation and expression of meaning. Our focal point on communication hinges on two pivotal questions: What information or content is being conveyed? And what will the audience do with this information? These inquiries form the bedrock of meaningful interaction and exchange.

The Role of Input

Input serves as the cornerstone of language acquisition since understanding must precede the establishment of form-meaning connections.

The Role of Comprehensible Input

Krashen’s Input Hypothesis introduces the concept that learners progress in language when they comprehend input that is slightly beyond their current proficiency level, often referred to as “i+1.” While Krashen’s ideas have evolved and faced criticism, a consensus remains regarding the importance of comprehensible input. Crafting such input involves a combination of strategies:

  • Ensuring that the topic and text type align with students’ proficiency levels.
  • Employing visual cues, body language, and target language equivalents.
  • Utilizing examples that relate to common associations and cognates.
  • Gradually delivering content and simplifying language.
  • Embracing circumlocution to convey intended meaning.
  • Incorporating authentic resources to provide genuine context.
  • Implementing comprehension checks to maintain communication-driven interactions.

While explicit instruction isn’t deemed necessary for acquisition, directing learners’ attention to grammatical forms during meaningful communication can be beneficial in strengthening form-meaning connections.

The Role of Output

Output, defined as the production of the target language to convey meaning, plays an essential but distinct role in language development. Merrill Swain’s Output Hypothesis suggests that pushing learners to produce accurate and meaningful messages facilitates language development by prompting them to pay closer attention to linguistic form. Output assists learners in recognizing their gaps in knowledge and affords opportunities for testing hypotheses. However, Hawkins and Henshaw contend that output doesn’t construct the linguistic system; its primary function lies in helping learners identify their input needs.

While there is often a significant emphasis on input, the role of output remains paramount, particularly in communicative language teaching. Traditional teaching methods tend to prioritize output, associating communication primarily with speaking and writing. However, the equilibrium between input and output isn’t dictated by a fixed ratio. Instead, it is essential to provide ample communicative input and grant the linguistic system the time it requires to develop organically, particularly at the novice level.

In Conclusion

The journey of language acquisition involves a delicate dance between input and output. Both are integral components, each contributing uniquely to the development of linguistic competence. By understanding their roles and finding a harmonious equilibrium, educators can guide learners towards achieving language proficiency and effective communication.


Henshaw, Florencia Gilio, and Maris Hawkins. Common Ground Second Language Acquisition Theory Goes to the Classroom. Focus, an Imprint of Hackett Publishing Company, 2022.

Sales, Antonia De. “The Output Hypothesis and its Influence in Second language Learning/Teaching: An interview with Merrill Swain.” Interfaces Brasil/Canadá, vol. 20, 2020, pp. 1–12,

89: The Input is Compelling, But What About the Output?

Have you heard about Stephen Krashen’s Comprehensible Input Hypothesis?  If you’ve heard about CI, or use it in your classroom, then you know exactly what it is. Today, I want to take this a step further and look at making that input compelling or of particular interest to students.  Not only that, but what about making the output, or how students use the language, equally compelling or of specific interest to them? We’re essentially talking about ways to motivate students and we can always use some suggestions for that.

Topics in this Episode:

  • Krashen’s Comprehensible Input Hypothesis: Language acquisition occurs when learners are exposed to messages that are slightly beyond their current level of language competence, but that can still be understood with the help of contextual clues.
  • Stephen Krashen’s Compelling Input Hypothesis: Learners are more likely to acquire language when they are exposed to messages that are interesting, engaging, and personally relevant to them.
  • Five suggestions for providing compelling input
  • What about making the way students use the language compelling and of personal interest to them as well?
  • Five suggestions for providing opportunities for compelling output
  • Blog post about compelling input and output

Work with Joshua either in person or remotely.

Follow wherever you listen to podcasts.

Teachers want to hear from you and what you are proud of in your classroom.
Join me on the podcast.
We record conversations remotely, so you can be anywhere.