Using Sheltered Videos for Comprehensible Input

July 25, 2017 admin
Hi all! It’s Catharyn, here, and I would like to introduce our very first Secondary Spanish Space guest blogger, Angie Torre. Angie has been a French and
Spanish Teacher for over 30 years.
is an author and curriculum developer with a focus on comprehensible input. We SSS-ers love her blog and her AP language resources on TpT. Hope you enjoy her guest post! ~Catharyn

Why and How to Use Sheltered Videos for the Best Comprehensible Input

Do you ever wish people had conversation bubbles next to
their heads while speaking?  Especially
those who have accents you are not accustomed to?  Do you ever miss an entire crucial
conversation of a movie because you have no idea what the actors are saying, a
problem that would easily be remedied by subtitles? 
Or am I the only one in need of hearing aids?
In our zeal to provide authentic listening resources to our
students we may make the mistake of using input that is incomprehensible.
The best comprehensible input has several components.
It is comprehensible and spoken slowly enough to
be understood.
It captivates the interest.
It focuses on the message, not the form, on communication,
not grammar.
It provides language that is slightly more
difficult than students can understand. (L + 1)
It provides ridiculous amounts of repetition in
Research also proves that interaction helps students acquire
the language.  Therefore, it would appear
that the best way for a student to become proficient would be to engage in a
conversation with a captivating, slow-speaking native speaker who uses language
the student can mostly understand, repeats often, does whatever is necessary to
make his/her message understandable, and who has a conversation bubble next to
his/her head to aid in comprehension.  Ha
ha ha ha! 
Actually, a model of this comprehensible input is available,
and it is even more effective than the scenario I just described: videos in the
target language with target-language subtitles (in place of the bubbles) and
visuals to aid in the comprehension of unknown words, i.e. sheltered videos.

Using Sheltered Videos for Comprehensible Input


Where do you find such a resource?  

I have found many such clips about daily routines but
videos about other topics were practically nonexistent on this planet. After exhaustive
research I was able to find a few gems although without subtitles.  You can check them out in my post, Videos
for Comprehensible Input

For most of my needs, however, I came to the unhappy
conclusion, as is most often the case, that if I wanted the video resource I
imagined, I would have to create it myself. So, of course, I did and delighted
in watching my students absorb the language naturally as they sat, mesmerized,
by a compelling story they actually understood.
 After the video, more repetition
in context flooded their young brains in the form of related questions and

How do you use these videos in the classroom?

These types of videos are also excellent for targeted comprehensible
input, essential for the proficiency of students who do not begin second-language
learning in elementary or who are on a block schedule with an insufficient
amount of instructional time. Targeted comprehensible input is the presentation
and recycling of selected vocabulary or grammar with the purpose of providing
an abundance of repetition in context.
Non-targeted input does not focus on any particular vocabulary or
structures but rather uses any language necessary to convey the message.  Both targeted and non-targeted have the goal
, rather than grammar. 
So, if I want to teach a unit on clothing but I can’t give
my students the experience of shopping and talking with a sales-person in
Spain, I show them a video, with subtitles and overlaid visuals about two girls
shopping and describing their own and others’ clothing.  Then, I follow up with questions about the
movie, students’ clothing and shopping habits as well as multiple other
activities related to the topic.  After
exposure to the sheltered language I have provided, students are ready to hop a
plane and communicate with a real person in a real store because now the
authentic language they will hear will be about L+1.
Sheltered videos are the best comprehensible input for so
many reasons: Students are 100% engaged because the resource is visual and the
story or topic hooks their interest.  The
teacher can monitor the students as they learn instead of doing a
song-and-dance. Students absorb the language almost automatically in a
simulated authentic experience.  They
provide tons of repetition in context with slow-speaking native speakers.  Students learn surrounding language,
connecting words, and syntax not formally taught as they focus on the message,
not grammar.  They have become my
favorite resource in the world language classroom.
If you would like to read more, check out my post about Why You Should Use Targeted Comprehensible Input.   -Angie


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