ESL Lesson Plans - The Comprehensible Input Strategy

Providing comprehensible input for English Language Learners can be accomplished with the right ESL lessons.

By Carrie Jackson


ESL Lessons

Comprehensible input is a theory developed by Steven Krashen. This theory is supported by five main hypotheses for second language acquisition. The first one is the natural order hypothesis which deals with the rules of language and predictable order. The acquisition and monitor hypothesis deals with the use of language for communication, and the process of self monitoring of the new language. This is followed by the input (i+1) hypothesis theory which refers to the way people acquire language. Finally, the affective filter hypothesis deals with what may block a person from acquiring a second language; this could be a mental block or a lack of interest. With all this said, Krashen believed that when people are given the tools to understand the messages that are sent to them, curriculum information becomes comprehensible.

So, how is this theory applied in a classroom that contains English Language Learners? The first thing that we need to remember is that comprehensible input is not just about using pictures to help students understand content material. The strategy consists of various techniques and tasks appropriate to student proficiency levels. Students learning English as a second language can benefit from teachers who monitor the pace of their speech, pause when necessary, and enunciate. In addition to this, using techniques to make concepts clear are also vital to successfully mastering English as a second language. Using gestures, modeling the task or assignment, or using an overhead projector makes communication comprehensible. Additional techniques that make learning comprehensible for English Language Learners include, previewing materials, providing opportunities for students to express themselves in English, and providing time for hands-on activities. Having students work in co-operative learning groups provide students with additional peer support. The use of graphic organizers provides opportunities for students to better understand concepts, and vocabulary.

By giving students visual clues, breaking down language into understandable chunks, and using other strategies for providing comprehensible input, teachers can make sure that all learners have access to the material. The following lesson plans use techniques for providing comprehensible input for various subject areas.

ESL Lesson Plans:


The Order of Things on a Coordinate Grid :In this lesson, students will learn how to construct a coordinate plane, graph ordered pairs, name the coordinates, identify the quadrants, and create a picture using ordered pairs. Students use graph paper, overhead projectors and transparencies these are all comprehensible for Ells.\


Television CensorChip : In this lesson, students explore the current television rating system. Students love television, this is a lesson that will get everyone talking. Visuals and technology is used in this lesson, comprehensible for Ells.


Learn about Hazardous Waste Cleanup:  In this lesson, students analyze the pros and cons of using various technologies for cleaning up specific hazardous waste problems. This lesson provides students a chance to debate and discuss the topic, another comprehensible strategy.

Social Studies

Veterans Wall of Fame : In this lesson, students will study Veterans Day and its origins. This lesson is great for advanced Ells, the content is very comprehensible; Interviewing, describing, writing and create a visual for this lesson.





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Carrie Jackson