Comprehension Checks as MGMT

Classroom Management is paramount. Without it, none of the strategies to provide students with CI stand a chance. They don’t stand a chance because students who aren’t paying attention aren’t receiving any input (I) at all, let alone input that’s comprehensible (C)! Of aaaaaaaall the systems in place to manage the classroom, though, comprehension checks are probably the most effective, yet most overlooked…

I’ve begun asking more “what did I just say?” or “what does that mean?” in English (the majority L1/native), or in Spanish (L1/native for some of my students). As a result, I’ve noticed a drop in disruptions, and how many times I point to our class rules to redirect focus. Students are more alert because I’m checking in with them more consistently, and directly. Perhaps this is effective because the’res more interaction when confirming something in this way. The more common alternative is students nodding or saying “yes” in the target language, even if they have no idea what’s going on—a classic student tactic we shouldn’t fall for!

Don’t overdo this, though, putting a student on the spot who would otherwise flip out under pressure. One trick to take care of that is to check in with the student next to them, making eye contact to let the other know that you could have called on them, but didn’t.

So, in time, most students who feel like they’re flying under your radar will quickly see that it’s not the case. All this from just using more L1/native comprehension checks!

Note how comprehension checks aren’t possible using certain immersion, or immersion-inspired methods that refuse the use of L1/native language. The same is true of methods lacking interaction. That’s not to say that such methods inherently have MGMT problems they can’t fix, but that other, perhaps more involved strategies are needed.

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One thought on “Comprehension Checks as MGMT

  1. I need to do this more. It is too easy to get caught up in producing input and forget that a quick English translation of something is the fastest way to really know what a student is understanding.

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