How Comprehensible Input (CI) Teaching Methods Can Be Adapted for Any Learning Style

How Comprehensible Input (CI) Teaching Methods Can Be Adapted for Any Learning StyleHow Comprehensible Input (CI) Teaching Methods Can Be Adapted for Any Learning Style
(last modified April 8, 2024)

Embracing diverse learning styles is crucial in language education, and it can be easier to accommodate when employing Comprehensible Input (CI) approaches. Tailoring instruction to respect various learning preferences enhances engagement and deepens language acquisition. In this article, we’ll explore how CI techniques can be adapted to suit the needs of visual, auditory, kinesthetic, reading-writing, social, independent, holistic, and analytical learners within the context of language acquisition.

Comprehensible Input (CI) stands out as an inclusive approach that caters to a wide array of learning styles, recognizing and adapting to the diverse needs and preferences of learners. 

CI effectively supports many learning styles. Here are eight examples of these, and how you can strive to include some or all of these techniques when planning your comprehensible classroom and your CI curriculum. A well-rounded lesson plan which includes accommodations for many types of learners has the best chance at creating long-term retention and comfortable use of the target language.

CI For Visual Learners

A visual learner is an individual who learns best through visual aids, images, and spatial representations. Visual learners grasp and retain information more effectively when presented with visual stimuli such as graphs, charts, diagrams, videos, maps, and written materials. They often benefit from seeing information in a graphical or pictorial format, as visuals help them organize and understand concepts more easily. In educational settings, visual learners may excel in activities that involve reading, observing, and creating visual materials, making use of their preference for visual information to enhance their learning experience.

Incorporating vivid visuals into language lessons can significantly enhance comprehension. For language instruction, use visually rich materials such as colorful flashcards, pictures, and videos to reinforce vocabulary and grammar. Encourage students to create visual aids like mind maps or drawings to represent new concepts, making the learning experience more memorable. 

An example of a simple Spanish-language flash card for visual learners.

CI For Auditory Learners

An auditory learner is an individual who learns best through auditory or oral means. Auditory learners absorb information most effectively through listening and hearing. They often benefit from spoken instructions, lectures, discussions, and other auditory stimuli. These learners have a heightened ability to understand and retain information through sound, including spoken words, music, and other auditory cues. In educational contexts, auditory learners may excel in activities such as participating in class discussions, listening to lectures, and engaging with audio materials. They often find it easier to comprehend and remember information that is presented verbally, allowing them to maximize their learning experience through auditory channels.

For language instruction, integrate audio resources such as podcasts, songs, and spoken-word activities into your CI lessons. For Spanish learners, leverage the power of music with lyrics that tell a story. Engage students with audio stories or dialogues that expose them to different accents and speeds, fostering better listening comprehension.

CI For Kinesthetic Learners

A kinesthetic learner is an individual who learns best through physical movement, touch, and hands-on experiences. Kinesthetic learners engage with and understand information more effectively when they can actively manipulate objects, participate in activities, and use their body in the learning process. These learners often benefit from activities such as role-playing, hands-on experiments, interactive games, and physical simulations. They have a preference for learning through practical experiences, and their understanding of concepts is enhanced when they can physically engage with the material. In educational settings, kinesthetic learners may excel in subjects that involve physical activities and experimentation, as they learn and internalize information through bodily movements and tactile experiences.

For your comprehensible classroom, introduce interactive activities in your language lessons, such as role-playing, gestures, physical games, or even dancing. Engaging the body in the learning process enhances retention. For instance, incorporate movement into vocabulary lessons by having students act out words or phrases, making language acquisition a dynamic and memorable experience. Even a game as simple as Simon Says can accomplish tying movement and new vocabulary words together.

CI For Reading-Writing Learners

A reading-writing learner, also known as a verbal-linguistic learner, is an individual who learns best through written and spoken language. These learners excel in activities that involve reading, writing, listening, and speaking. They have a strong affinity for words and language, and they often prefer to process information through reading texts, taking notes, and engaging in written exercises. Reading-writing learners tend to enjoy activities such as reading books, writing essays, participating in discussions, and working with written materials like handouts and textbooks. They may have a keen ability to remember and understand information that is presented through written or spoken words, making language-rich environments conducive to their learning style. In educational settings, these learners often demonstrate proficiency in subjects that require strong verbal and written communication skills.

To accommodate reading-writing learners, provide ample reading materials, including books, articles, and written exercises. Encourage journaling in Spanish and assign projects that involve creating written content. For example, ask students to write short stories or essays in Spanish, reinforcing vocabulary and grammar through written expression.

“A well-rounded lesson plan which includes accommodations for many types of learners has the best chance for creating long-term and comfortable use of the target language.” – Mira Canion

CI For Social Learners

Social learners are individuals who thrive in group settings and learn best through interpersonal interactions and collaboration. These learners are highly attuned to social cues and find value in working with others to understand and process information. Social learners often enjoy group discussions, collaborative projects, and activities that involve interaction with peers. They may benefit from verbal exchanges, shared experiences, and cooperative learning environments. In educational settings, social learners may excel in subjects that involve teamwork, group discussions, and projects where they can engage with others to enhance their understanding of the material. Building a sense of community and fostering positive social interactions can contribute significantly to the learning experience for social learners.


Social learners thrive in group settings. Foster collaboration by incorporating group activities, discussions, and partner work. For Spanish-language learners, encourage conversational practice through role-playing or group storytelling exercises. Creating a supportive and interactive learning community can enhance motivation and language acquisition for social learners.

CI For Independent Learners

An independent learner is an individual who takes responsibility for their own learning and excels when given the autonomy to direct their educational journey. Independent learners are self-motivated, proactive, and capable of managing their time and resources effectively. They seek out information, set goals, and often prefer to work alone, relying on their own initiative to explore and understand new concepts. Independent learners are typically resourceful, comfortable with self-directed study, and may excel in environments that provide opportunities for self-paced learning, research, and individual exploration. In educational settings, fostering independence involves encouraging students to take ownership of their learning process, make choices about how they acquire and demonstrate knowledge, and develop a sense of responsibility for their educational outcomes.

For independent learners, provide self-paced materials and resources for Spanish-language learners to explore on their own. Offer independent projects, reading assignments, and online resources that cater to individual interests. Encourage self-reflection and goal-setting, empowering students to take ownership of their language-learning journey.

CI For Holistic Learners

A holistic learner is an individual who prefers to grasp information by perceiving the overall context and connections between various elements rather than focusing on isolated details. Holistic learners often seek a comprehensive understanding of a subject, appreciating the interrelationships between different concepts. They value the big picture and are inclined to integrate information into a broader context. Holistic learners may benefit from learning experiences that emphasize the connections between topics, exploring real-world applications, and understanding the relevance of information in a broader context. In educational settings, holistic learners may excel in subjects that allow them to explore interdisciplinary connections and appreciate the holistic nature of knowledge. Encouraging holistic thinking involves presenting information in a way that highlights relationships, patterns, and the integration of ideas.

Holistic learners seek connections and context. Integrate cultural elements into your secondary language lessons, providing a broader context for language acquisition. Explore literature, films, and traditions from the language’s culture to offer a comprehensive understanding of the language. Connecting language to cultural contexts enhances understanding and appreciation for holistic learners.

CI For Analytical Learners

An analytical learner is an individual who prefers to understand information by breaking it down into its component parts, examining details, and discerning patterns and relationships. Analytical learners thrive on logic and systematic thinking, and they often excel in tasks that require careful analysis and problem-solving. These learners tend to approach information in a step-by-step manner, breaking down complex concepts into manageable elements for better understanding. In educational settings, analytical learners may excel in subjects that involve structured presentations of information, clear explanations, and opportunities for systematic practice. Providing organized frameworks, logical explanations, and opportunities for critical thinking can enhance the learning experience for analytical learners.

Analytical learners thrive on structure and logic. Provide clear frameworks and explanations in your Spanish lessons, emphasizing grammar rules and linguistic structures. Break down complex concepts into manageable components, and offer systematic practice exercises. For example, provide analytical learners with organized charts and diagrams that illustrate grammatical structures.

A chart illustrating Spanish verb tenses. Credit: Attanatta on Flickr/Creative Commons License.

A chart illustrating Spanish verb tenses. Credit: Attanatta on Flickr/Creative Commons License.

Of course, none of these learning styles are mutually exclusive, and most people will learn best by using a combination of several of these methods. That’s why it’s important to teach to several different styles, such that you’re touching everyone’s individual style of learning.

A Personalized Learning Experience

In essence, the adaptability of CI to diverse learning styles ensures that learners with varying preferences and strengths can engage meaningfully with the language. Whether through visual aids, auditory experiences, interactive activities, or independent study, CI creates a flexible and differentiated language learning environment that resonates with the individual learning styles of its participants, promoting a more effective and personalized educational experience.

In secondary language education, embracing diverse learning styles through adaptable CI teaching methods is the key to unlocking the full potential of every learner. By tailoring instruction to cater to visual, auditory, kinesthetic, reading-writing, social, independent, holistic, and analytical preferences, educators can create a more differentiated and effective language-learning experience for all students. 

With Mira Canion’s Spanish readers and teachers’ manuals, she has striven to incorporate all of these styles as much as possible into her materials. Regardless of which curriculum you choose, all educators should be mindful of selecting methods and materials which touch all different learning styles into their secondary language teaching techniques. Through these personalized approaches, the journey of mastering the Spanish language becomes not only educational but also deeply enriching for learners of every style.