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How do CI and ADI work together?

April 22, 2022

Is your head swimming with the different terms that are used to describe language teaching? CI, ADI, TPRS, POLI... what do they all mean, and how do they work together? Most importantly, what does talking about teaching actually have to do with teaching?

Listen to CI Diaries #2

I recently listened to Episode 2 of the CI Diaries podcast, which centered on the question, “What is the difference between CI and ADI?” Earlier in the day I had engaged in a conversation sparked by the episode in an online group of “CI” language teachers.

The hosts of this podcast are authors Kristy Placido and Carrie Toth, and I have worked with them in curriculum and training projects for more than a decade, so I am familiar with their thinking on the idea of the connections and differences between CI and ADI.

In this post, I will share my take on the topic of CI versus ADI.

Defining CI and ADI

CI = Comprehensible Input 

ADI = Acquisition Driven Instruction

The term CI has a very specific definition, but it is also come to be used as a label for kinds of materials, types of strategies, and vision for instruction.

Acquisition Driven Instruction is a newer term which better fits an approach to language education.

How CI and ADI work together

Here is how these two terms, and a few other concepts, work together in my mind.

Imagine that language learners are on a trip. 

PROFICIENCY is the destination; the goal. This is where we are headed.

ACQUISITION is the route that is being chosen by myself and many other teachers. We’re choosing to get to proficiency through implicit instruction (Acquisition); NOT explicit instruction (studying grammar and memorizing vocal). 

It is important to point out that there is another route to proficiency–the path of explicit instruction–but it is not the preferred route. Teachers implementing Acquisition Driven Instruction are on Route A, for Acquisition.

We are taking the trip in the vehicle of CLASSROOM INSTRUCTION, which would probably be better represented by a 35-seater bus with a tendency to break down. 

CI (Comprehensible Input) is what fills the instruction and keeps us on the acquisition path to proficiency. It is the fuel!

The collective term ADI (Acquisition Driven Instruction) is the vehicle, the path, and the fuel that gets learners to Proficiency Town.

The labels aren't the most important thing

When I posted this analogy on Instagram, Consultant Hélène Colinet –who also supports teachers in transitioning to an implicit model of language instruction– commented with the reminder that the most important thing are the strategies used and not the terms in and of them selves:

I agree with Hélène, and affirm that we don't want to lose sight of the forest through the trees. Having clarity around the terms that we are using can help us to better communicate with other teachers, but the most important thing is that we attend to what is actually happening in our classes. In my case as a full-time trainer, that I continuously hold up the materials that I am writing to the lens of, "How is this helping students acquire language?".

How do YOU label your teaching?

I'd love to hear your thinking. Which terms and labels do you use to describe your teaching, and why?

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