Adding Variety to your CI

This post contains ways to add variety and novelty to your Comprehensible Input

Recently at the iFLT Conference in Saint Petersburg, Florida, I presented a session about adding variety to your CI. As Carol Gaab says, “Brains crave novelty” and I think that variety is the spice of comprehensible input. It is the icing on the CI cake. Comprehensible Input + Variety = Novelty Acquisition. Here is my doughnut analogy: You can have the same donut, though delicious, many times during the year. Or you can have different varieties of doughnuts throughout the year.  If each plain donut is CI, it will still be effective instruction. But if you offer a variety of donuts, you will reach more people, class will be more compelling and your instruction will be even more effective.  Why have plain doughnuts all year long when you can have many different kinds? Doing the same thing (no matter how successful it is and effective) more than a few times will go dull after a while.  Sometimes all you need is a very small tweak to add novelty, other times it requires a bit more than that.

Here is a variety of activities that have been successful in my classes. As the new school year approaches, I recommend trying some of these. But remember, you can’t do the same thing over and over again. Keep it novel!

  • Volleyball Game :  Put the class into two teams.  They play using a beach volleyball from one side of the room to the other.  No spiking, no standing.  The team that wins the rally gets a question (about vocabulary or reading questions).  If the team answers correctly, they get a point. CI Instructions
  • Running Dictation : This is from Jason Fritze. You can find explanations HERE or HERE. CI Instructions
  • Scavenger Hunts : Have the class solve clues around the school campus. Here is a muffin hunt that I did with El Internado. You can also use the Goosechase app. You can find out more about Goosechase in the classroom HERE or HERE.
  • Quizlet Live Relay : Play Quizlet Live but in a relay format. You can find explanation HERE. There are some other ways to play Quizlet Live HERE.
  • Toma uno, por favor : This is from Carrie Toth and the Fluency Matters blog. This is another take on a running dictation. The hardest part is creating the tab sheets but it is definitely worth playing! Here is the explanation.
  • Snapchat : I started a snapchat account for the first time last school year and it was successful. I posted photos/videos of moments in class and added captions to some of them. It was a great way to show what is happening in my classroom and to add some more input outside of class. Here are some more ideas of what to do with Snapchat.
  • Booksnaps : This was a great way to show comprehension of and to interact with a text. There are some ways to use booksnaps HERE. Kristy Placido has a good booksnap project HERE.
  • Jaja jueves : Idea from Allison Wienhold at Mis Clases Locas. I tell a joke in the target language every Thursday. It is compelling, a nice way to start class, and funny.
  • Baile viernes : Also from Allison Wienhold. Every Friday we dance. I do not make every one dance but I do prefer that the entire class at least stands during the dancing. It is a lot of fun! There are great resources at Mis Clases Locas.
  • March Music Madness : During the month of March, do a music madness bracket style. We listen to two songs every class in March and vote for the favorite. It is great exposure to music and often a highlight of the year. There is more resources HERE.
  • Christmas Commercial Madness : Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, we do the Chirstmas commercial madness. We watch two commercials each class and vote for our favorite. I also do activities to make each commercial comprehensible. This is always very successful and my students love it. There is more resources HERE.

How do you add variety and novelty to your acquisition driven instruction? Feel free to share in the comments!



  1. I agree with you! I like to use lots of different strategies not just delivering the CI but also the follow up activities we use with each lesson as well as activities for reading. Spice it up; try something new!

  2. I can’t believe I missed your session during IFLT19! Thank you for this wonderful blog. I have used so many of your Internado ideas. This will be my first year using CI—but as they say it is never too late.

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