Shannon Ellis has thrown the textbooks, worksheets and tests out the window. In fact, her classes hardly use pencil and paper. Like many foreign language teachers, she incorporates Comprehensible Input in her teaching method. This was a very difficult step for her to take, but it supports her goals: building community in her classroom, students’ understanding the new language and helping students think for themselves.
She finally realized that it’s more important for beginning learners to be able to understand the target language before they speak it. That is Comprehensible Input (CI). To reinforce CI, there are many rigorous activities she does with her students. One thing she does is ask yes/no questions while pointing to the words she says. Next, she progresses to deeper level questions while still pointing to the words. Some questions are part of a daily or weekly routine like asking what the weather is or what they did over the weekend. As new vocabulary and new grammatical ideas are introduced, older vocabulary is still incorporated.
She uses short novels or wordless movie shorts in the classroom. This helps students in understanding the second language, and often helps them with deeper thinking. Also, because culture is very closely related to learning a language, she incorporates music and food. Assessments vary and are performed throughout the semester.