Au Café Gourmand: A comprehensible input-based story for novice learners

A lot of the work that CI-based teachers do is improvisational. Activities like card talk, PQA, and storyasking all require us to be spontaneous and creative in the moment. While that spontaneity can be wonderful, magical even, it can also be nice to sink in to the calmer, more relaxed vibe of a reading-based lesson.

That’s why one of my favorite ways to structure a lesson is to read a story with my students. I like the chance to take a break and let the story do the CI-lifting for me, and I sense that the students appreciate the change of pace as well. And knowing that Krashen and others encourage more reading in World Language classes makes me feel good about spending valuable class time in this way. I try to incorporate at least one reading-based lesson into my weekly plans.

Many of the stories I write up for students are based on tales that we co-create as a class. Au Café Gourmand is one such story. It’s a simple, straightforward anecdote about two characters who go out for lunch together at a Parisian café. The idea grew out of a mini-story that my students and I invented in class, which I later tweaked and typed up to use as a reading task. I added comprehension questions as well, to use as a quick formative assessment of my students’ understanding.

If you’d like to check out the story, you can find it here at my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

I designed the reading to take up the majority of a 40-minute class period. I have used it with 7th graders, but you could implement it in any novice-level class. What I love so much about reading tasks is that they open up the possibility of so many extension activities, based on the time you have and want to spend. Here are a few ways you could use Au Café Gourmand in your classroom:

  1. Project the story on a screen and read it aloud to the class, allowing students to see the words as you go. Pause frequently to ask questions, personalize, and check for understanding. Answer the comprehension questions as a class.
  2. Make copies for each student and let them read the story individually. Have students complete the comprehension questions on their own and collect for a quick check.
  3. Make a few copies of the story and add it to your classroom library, allowing the students to read it whenever they like.
  4. Read the story aloud without projecting the words on a screen. Ask students to jot down notes in English to show their understanding.
  5. Read the story aloud without projecting the words on a screen, and do a “listen and draw” activity. Ask your students to illustrate the story to show their understanding.
  6. Rewrite the story as a class or have students create a parallel story. Create new characters, add a location, or introduce a problem.

There are so many ways to adapt a reading lesson to meet your own needs and preferences. What kinds of extension activities do you use to get the most out of your CI stories? I’d love to hear your ideas!

Merci et à bientôt!

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