CI Program Checklist: 5 of 13

Classroom MGMT
✔   Rules (DEA & CWB)
✔   Routines (Routines & Student Jobs)
✔   Brain Breaks

✔   Inclusion (Safety Nets, Gestures & Question Posters)
__ Shelter Vocab

A problem with most textbooks is that they contain more vocabulary than students are able to acquire. Many of these words are of such low frequency and utility that they hardly ever come up in daily interaction, or they’re just not necessary to know. A problem with most language teachers is that they expect students to memorize lists of these words. The solution is to use fewer words so students acquire them. In order to do that within the constraints of school, we can optimize the vocabulary we use with our students.

The CI community has embraced the concept of “sheltering vocabulary,” which means limiting language used in class to what students know, and building that vocabulary slowly over time. This is also known as “staying in bounds.” Sheltering vocabulary leads to greater fluency of the language. An example of this is the published novellas limited to ~300 unique words in the target language. These novellas contain a core set of vocabulary that’s repeated in novel contexts throughout the book, and it’s no surprise that this vocabulary is comprised mostly of the most frequent and useful words to know. What are some of those words?

Super 7
Thank Terry Waltz for organizing a set of 7 verbs used to express the most global concepts:


The Latin esse covers Location, Existence, and Identity, so its basic set of Super verbs is what I call the Quaint Quīntum (esse, habēre, placēre, īre, velle), but why stop there? Miriam Patrick added three more concepts:


These three concepts add dīcere, dēbēre, and putāre, and I call the aggregate Super verbs the Awesome Octō. There are lists out there with more verbs, but to me that dances too closely on the line of sheltering vocabulary, and ends up just being a prioritization of useful verbs from the 51 Most Important Verbs list. 20+ verbs are too many to be using on a daily basis when acquisition is the goal. My suggestion is to use far fewer, and look to the Most Important Verbs list when building vocabulary or creating an embedded reading of a selected text.

Quaint Quīntum & Awesome Octō

CI rock stars, like Chris Stolz, have embraced the idea of jumping right into stories from day 1 (and if you do, consider the No Travel story script), although a more traditional practice is to use Total Physical Response (TPR) for the first 10 hours of CI instruction. Whether or not you start with a story hook, it’s a good idea to keep TPR handy because it’s particularly effective to shelter vocabulary. I recommend returning to TPR from time to time even after those initial 10 hours. So, if you have a good imagination, or experience with TPR, just post a word wall and create funny sequences. **UPDATE 7.23.2017** Instead of beginning the year with a list of words to refer to, instead, build that list as you go. Nest the lists under corresponding question posters (e.g. nouns under “Who/What?” adjectives under “What kind?” numbers under “How many/When?” motion verbs under “Where/To where/From where/How?” other verbs under “To whom/With whom/Why?”). Get creative on how to keep each class section’s words separate from the other class sections.

Here’s a word wall to consult with enough stuff to keep things interesting for a while. You could also build it from nothing (see update above):

TPR Word Wall

If you’re less comfortable with ex tempore TPR, or looking for some visual stimulation for class, I’ve created this PowerPoint presentation:


Download the presentation, play it (F5), and start clicking around. You’ll find links to details that make TPR compelling, as well as compliments that get you thinking outside of the standard “stand up from the chair, etc.” My suggestion is to use this to get you into the habit of creating novel TPR commands (and statements) just from the Word Wall itself. It would be easy to treat this as a curriculum resource and just work the whole way through it start to finish. DON’T DO THAT. The advantage of posting the Word Wall is that it will come back later in the year as a nifty resource to eat up class minutes, as well as get students moving.


11 thoughts on “CI Program Checklist: 5 of 13

  1. Pingback: CI Program Checklist: 6 of 12 | Magister P.

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  3. Pingback: CI Program Checklist: 8 of 13 | Magister P.

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  5. Pingback: CI Program Checklist: 10 of 13 | Magister P.

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  7. Pingback: CI Program Checklist: 11 of 13 | Magister P.

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  10. Pingback: CI Program Checklist: Summary | Magister P.

  11. Pingback: The Super Seven Verbs | Teaching Comprehensibly

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