We increasingly understand the central role of students’ understanding of language as they move up in proficiency and acquire language. This makes comprehension checks a vital part of the process.
The Role of Comprehensible Input
The importance of comprehensible input cannot be overstated. It’s the foundation on which students build their linguistic abilities. Krashen’s Input Hypothesis emphasizes the significance of comprehensible input as the key to acquiring language. It is, therefor, crucial to ensure that the language input is just a step above the students’ current understanding level.
Make Sure the Input is Comprehensible
Use techniques such as visual cues, body language, cognates, and examples of common associations to make input more comprehensible. Slow down the pace, and simplify complex language structures to facilitate better understanding.
Regular Comprehension Checks
Frequent comprehension checks are essential to gauge student engagement and understanding. Effective comprehension checks provide insights into students’ learning progress and allow teachers to make informed instructional adjustments.
What to Do with What We Learn From the Comprehension Check
Insights from comprehension checks allow teachers to tailor instruction to meet individual student needs effectively. Identifying students’ readiness levels helps in providing appropriate learning support and ensuring no student is left behind.
Strategies for Effective Comprehension Checks
- Use targeted questions that require thoughtful responses, aligning with the students’ proficiency levels.
- Integrate formative assessments such as exit tickets, quizzes, and short surveys to gauge student understanding at different stages of the lesson.
- Organize group discussions or peer-to-peer interactions that encourage students to articulate their understanding of the language material.
- Introduce interactive activities that require students to apply the language knowledge gained, such as role-plays, debates, or problem-solving tasks.
- Incorporate visual representations like diagrams, infographics, and concept maps to reinforce language comprehension and facilitate visual learning.
- Promote the use of reflective journals or learning logs where students can express their understanding of the language content and any areas where they need further clarification.
Total Participation Techniques
In addition to the effective comprehension checks, consider incorporating specific Total Participation Techniques outlined in the book Total Participation Techniques: Making Every Student an Active Learner by Prsida Himmele and William Himmele. Some of the techniques highlighted in the book that could be particularly beneficial for formative comprehension checks include:
- Think-Pair-Share: Encourage students to think about a question or prompt, discuss their thoughts with a partner, and then share their ideas with the entire class.
- Four Corners: Use the Four Corners technique to prompt students to choose a corner of the classroom that aligns with their response to a specific question or statement.
- Implement the RallyRobin technique, which allows students to work in pairs and take turns sharing ideas or responses.
- Assign short writing exercises where students can express their understanding of the material.
- Encourage students to review and provide constructive feedback on each other’s work.
- Jigsaw Activities: Implement jigsaw activities that require students to work collaboratively in groups, with each student responsible for a specific aspect of a larger concept.
Questions to Reflect On
- Are you integrating regular comprehension checks into your teaching practice?
- How can you ensure that students are demonstrating their comprehension at the desired proficiency level?
- What adjustments can you make based on the insights gathered from your comprehension checks?
Checking for comprehension in the language learning process is a crucial step in fostering a robust linguistic foundation for students. By incorporating effective comprehension checks and implementing the strategies above, you can ensure that your students are not only engaging with the material but are also comprehending and internalizing the language input effectively. These checks also provide essential formative information for moving ahead.