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!


8 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!

  2. Pingback: What is comprehensible input? | edcampCIVa

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