Comprehensify your life


Warning: There is A LOT of cuteness in this post. Proceed with caution, especially if you have a weak spot for puppies. 

I think the best thing about loading up our little darlings with comprehensible input is that it doesn’t really matter what we’re talking to them about. The what isn’t nearly as important as the matters that we’re talking to them in a way they can understand. If you’ve been hanging out for a while, you’ve seen this message over and over. Whether you’re chatting about their weekend plans, the homecoming nominations or the art of Al Pastor tacos, the principles are the same: talk slowly, watch their eyes and stay in bounds by using cognates, gestures, illustrations and/ or  props to make your meaning clear.

In class we spend a lot of time talking about my Little Darlings, our community and about our target cultures. And sometimes I tell them about me and my life. It keeps surprising me how effective it is in connecting with my kiddos…and it is so easy to keep it comprehensible. Since they’re my stories, I have time to figure out the best way to share them with my kiddos.  (Disclaimer, of course, I don’t share everything with them…boundaries, people!)  This year we’ve been starting class with a chit chat routine which gives us a chance to check in with each other (in Spanish!) before we get down to business.

This year, after our doggie Newton got sick, I told my classes about him during our Chit Chat time, in slow and comprehensible Spanish: Pobre Newton está enfermo. El Doctor dice que tiene un problema con el páncreas. Newton no quiere jugar y no quiere comer.  Estoy muy preocupada, y su amiga, Fallon está muy preocupada también. My sweet kiddos asked about him, every class, and each class I updated him on his (sadly) declining progress. It was sad when I had to tell them that we said goodbye to our little perrito on my birthday, but their concern was real and it connected us in a special way. Then the subsequent classes they wanted to know about how Fallon, our other Fur Child, was taking it. Fallon está muy triste. Fallon busca a su amigo Newton pero Newton no está. Pobre Fallon no comprende. Fallon necesita un amgio. 

Weeks later, Señor Chase and I we decided that Fallon was just too sad without a friend. You can imagine how excited I was to share the news with my little darlings! First, we picture talked this:


I told them that Fallon needs a dog so we’re getting her a puppy! I explained that he’s too little to come home now, since he’s only 4 weeks old. I told them  that that his real name is Archimedes, named after the Greek mathematician, because Señor Chase loves math so much, but his nickname is Archie. We talked about how he’s so adorable because he doesn’t look like a real dog but rather a Pixar animation of a real dog.  My kiddos loved chatting about Archie so much, my hubby and I started making a weekly Archie update during our weekend visits.  (And before I overwhelm you with  puppy cuteness, can we just take a minute to thank God for how awesomely easy it is to make videos for our students? All you need is a phone and an internet connection. You talk to them in slow and comprehensible language…they see whatever cool thing you’re talking. And extra praise to the Lord if  you’ve got an incredibly sweet and supportive camera man husband who is acquiring loads of Spanish!) 

Here was the first video we made, introducing Archie and his hermanos:

We watched, we squealed with delight, we watched again, and then we talked about it. We got a lot of mileage out this 2 minute video! They wanted to watch it on loop for the rest of the class…instead I promised them I’d make more video updates for them.

The following week:


And the following week:

I asked them if Archie was the most adorable dog in the world, and to my shock and amazement…some of my little darlings said no, Archie is Not the most adorable dog in the world! I fully expected them to tell me their own pup is cuter…but 2nd period insisted that Clifford, the Big Red Dog is the Most Adorable Dog in the world while 6th period agreed that Scooby Doo is cuter than Archie! Ha! We had a fabulous little impromptu debate: Es verdad que Clifford es más grande que Archie. Pero, Archie tiene más pelo que Clifford. ¿Quién es más intelegente? ¿Scooby Doo es más intelegente que Archie? Obvio, ahora Archie es un bebé, no es tan intelegente como Scooby Doo porque Scooby tiene más experiencia de vida. Regardless of who’s cuter (and I think we all know the truth!) my kiddos were totally engaged for 15 minutes comparing Archie to fictional pups! That’s the beauty of teaching with Comprehensible Input, my friends…just follow it where it leads!

And here’s yesterday’s video, which I can’t wait to show them on Monday! Poor little guy bonks his head and we’ll milk that for all it’s worth in class!

The point of this post is NOT to encourage you to get a puppy so you can make cute videos for your Little Darlings (although I will be totally supportive if you do!) but to remind you that your life is hilarious and fascinating and your kiddos would probably love to hear about it.  Show them videos of your chickens or  your children or Last Night’s Dinner Disaster. I think you’ll be surprised how captivated they’ll be!

So…while I’m a little bummed I’ll be missing ACTFL next weekend…I can’t wait to bring our Little Fluffball home! While the rest of you are at the conference learning all the things, I’ll be here snuggling little Archie Roo! Please Blog, Tweet and Share all the details so we can take it in from the couch!

If you’re ACTFL bound this week, do your research! I thought both these posts were excellent for a little Pre Conference reading: Martina Bex shares her pregame ACTFL strategy and Maris Hawkins shares some Hometown Hot Spots to check out while you’re in DC.

Until next time, my friends! 





  1. Aww Archie is sooo cute!
    I’m sorry about your other dog. We are pawrents and I cannot imagine my life without my furry baby!


  2. Love that you have incorporated a small part of your life into your class – and hooked your kids in the process! Adelante con Archie!


  3. Hoal Anne Marie

    This post really touched my heart in a special way….first of all I am sorry for the loss of your beloved Newton. I have never had to put a pet down before but I came very close to having to put my gato Onyx to sleep a few weeks ago. Onyx has suffered mucha trauma in her life – an amputated leg from cancer, a serous intestinal infection that almost killed her (we had to tube feed her through her abdomen for almost a month) – but she bounced back every time. This last illness In October seemed to be even more deadly and the vet recommended that her age, 19 years old, she be put down immediately. But cats have nine lives and Onyx is a fighter!!! I could still see light in her eyes and the will to live and I delayed the decision by one day, just enough time to see her bounce back once again. I know it is day to day with her, but for now she is her regular self and I cannot imagine life without her. My students have been obsessed with Onyx and her stories! I made a few slide shows about her ( but I WILL make a video thanks to your inspiration!!) and we talk every day about how she is doing and they are so happy she survived her latest illness. Of course, they want me to bring Onyx to school to meet her personally – not sure how to make that work – but the fact is that sharing our personal stories, in comprehensible Spanish – is such a powerful way to connect with our chiquillos. Thank you again for sharing and I hope that Archie and Fallon are becoming fast friends!!


    • Awwww!! I’m so happy that Onyx bounced back yet again! She sounds like one tough Gato! There’s just something about pets that connects us to our kiddos! Thank you for your comment!


  4. So much cuteness! And the puppy is cute, too! I love that your videos are short and simple, yet such great inspiration for spinning out lots of very compelling CI. And I left you a comprehensible comment on tomorrow’s video. 😉


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