The Comprehensible Input Umbrella

Aren’t TPRS and CI the same thing? is a constant question I hear world language teachers asking.  The answer is No!  Logically, the next question I hear is How are they different then?  There are LOTS of bloggers who have already answered this question.  One of my favorite explanations is from Martina Bex’s (twitter: @MartinaBex; blog: post called TPRS 101 – Teaching Proficiency is Really Simple.  As so many have already answered this question, I do not want to reinvent the wheel; however, I would like to add to the discussion.  I present to you The Comprehensible Input Umbrella visual:

CI Umbrella Final Version

My version of The Comprehensible Input Umbrella was inspired by Diana Noonan’s own CI Umbrella at #iFLT16.  I thought to myself, Wow!  This is so easy to understand! but I also wanted to beef it up to help those who are really trying to understand the difference between CI and TPRS.  I added some activities from The Georgia Classicist’s post called A Comprehensible Input Approach – Various Delivery Methods after Grant Boulanger (twitter: @grantboulanger; blog: had passed the post along.  I then sent out my rough draft for feedback from some peers.

Some concerns others want addressed before releasing this image:

  • SIZING does NoT mEaN one activity if MORE important than another.  It was a stylistic choice to help the activities stand out on their own – which is also why I decided to have them in different colors, too.
  • This is NOT an exhaustive list!  Not by any means.
  • There was some debate about whether or not to include Content-Based Instruction (CBI) on this list.  Through my Master’s program I was told that the folks at the University of Minnesota are the leaders of CBI, and that often these professionals can be picky about what qualifies as CBI.  However, when I reread the What qualifies as ‘content’ in CBI  quotes, I can’t help but make a bajillion connections to what I am doing in my classroom when I teach about Lucha libre or geography.  That’s why I have decided to leave Content-Based Instruction in the visual.

I hope this helps you when trying to figure out how TPRS and CI relate to one another!

24 thoughts on “The Comprehensible Input Umbrella

  1. This is a great post! When i first started implementing CI back in 2008, I only knew of TPRS. Although my students enjoyed it, TPRS got kind of old after awhile (because as Carol Gaab always says, “The brain craves novelty”), and I myself got tired of it, because it can be quite challenging. I love the fact that CI encompasses SO MANY different strategies. While I will still occasionally Ask-a-Story a’la TPRS, I love the fact that I can do so many other things to implement CI.


    • Thanks, Keith! I totally agree. I think most people wet their feet with TPRS because Blaine Ray’s Workshops do such a good job of offering nearby training around the country. However, I agree with you! Sometimes I got too tired to continue pure TPRS… so I began branching out. Thank you for sharing your story!

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  3. I am giving a presentation on TPRS at our state conference (FLAM…Missouri) and wanted to use your umbrella in my presentation. Your name and blog are on the bottom to give you full credit, but I wanted to make sure that you are okay with me using it to explain the various types of CI. Let me know! Thanks!

  4. Pingback: What is TCI and TPRS? – AST2 Presentation

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  6. Hi, Thank you so much for creating this image. I am presenting research that I did with first-grade boys and the impact of using familiar folk and fairy tales to acquire Spanish. I would like you for permission to use your umbrella in my presentation. Thank you!

  7. I love your CI umbrella design. It’s visual and clear. I would like for your permission to use this image in our world language teachers workshop. Thank you.

  8. Hi, thank you for creating this CI umbrella. It’s visual and clear. I would like to get your permission to use this image for our teacher workshop in August. Thank you. Have a great summer.

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