The day my Novice students told me to please continue providing compelling and comprehensible input

Something really interesting happened today : we have been doing my “how are you feeling routine” for roughly 2 months now with my Novice students and this week I sensed a bit of a fatigue from my 9th grade students with this input-driven class opening. [“If you feel …, stand up and change seats”, then I PQA with students who changed seats and we move on to a different feeling.]

Sensing this fatigue and given that they knew the major feelings by now, I asked them yesterday to stand in two lines face-to-face and to simply say how they were feeling and if they were ready, to say “why” to a partner. We then switched partners a la “speed dating” for a few minutes. Noticing that the energy was higher, I thought I could do this for a few days to give them a break from me talking about how they are feeling.

Today, they walked in and I gave them 2 options:

1) “if you feel this way” (input-driven)


2) “I feel … because …” (drill/output-driven)


EVERYONE in both classes voted for 1), the input-driven routine. I GOT IT SO WRONG. I was surprised when the first class unanimously voted for 1) but when the second class also unanimously voted for 1) I sat down with them and I asked them to give me feed-back in English. This is what they told me (paraphrased):

– we prefer when you the teacher are speaking and asking us about our feelings because we get to hear about everyone, not just our partner

– we prefer when you the teacher are asking and speaking about our feelings because we can hear the correct way of expressing our feelings and much more (why how when who where etc.)

– saying how we feel to a partner is fine but it gets repetitive and fake


I got tempted to switch things around thinking “they need a break from input” and I was wrong. Once again I am amazed at the simple power of providing compelling and comprehensible input.


Image: just an example of where asking how your students are doing can take you…


  1. Chère Cécile,

    un grand merci pour ce partage réflectif. Le feedback des étudiants est tellement important et peut nous guider dans nos cours. Si seulement les administrateurs étaient aussi ouverts d’esprit que nos étudiants! mes évaluations donnent seulement de l’importance aux interpersonal communicative tasks 🙁

  2. This is amazing, Cecile! What a great experience!
    Have you done this morning routine with younger classes as well? I would like to try it with my 1st – 4th graders.

    • I have done a simplified version of “How do you feel” with my 1st graders. I had only 4 “feelings” (happy, sad, tired, and sick). I would ask “who feels..” they raise their hands and we keep tabs on the board. At the end we count together. Quick and sweet. Once they grew tired of it, I switched up to a quick calendar talk.

      • J’ai une question par rapport aux verbes: Est-ce qu’on dirait “Qui se sent content/heureux/triste/fatigué/malade” ou “Qui est…” Lequel est plus “français”? Une amie française m’a dit d’éviter trop le verbe “se sentir”…Tu es d’accord?

      • Hi Kirsten, I would agree that using ‘est’ is better (except there is no question with “est”). I tend to use both based on how it sounds with the adjective. Personally, I say “si tu te sens heureux” but “si tu es content”; “si tu te sens confiant” but “si tu es effraye”, etc. Sorry it is not a cut and dry answer :).

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