How to Engage Students with SIOP Comprehensible Input Strategies

How to Manage Comprehensible Input Using the SIOP Model by Suzanne Marie- Chinese teacher and students working at desk together for culturally responsive teaching


Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

Unlock the potential of the SIOP teaching model to inspire collaboration and promote learning in any classroom setting. Get started learning about SIOP comprehensible input.

This blog post explores engaging teaching and learning strategies for SIOP comprehensible input.


The SIOP Model is the best tool I have for designing lesson plans in high school classrooms.

This model is based on evidence-based strategies, making it an ideal fit for teaching students from various backgrounds.

My Master’s degrees in Education and Arts and my TEFL certification ensure I am well-equipped to use the SIOP Model to create instructional methods focused on English Language Learners.

The SIOP Model

The SIOP (Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol) Model (CREDE, 1996) is an empirically-tested, research-based model of instruction.

It’s a framework for planning and delivering instruction in core subject areas for second language learners.

Additionally, students who need to strengthen their academic language and literacy skills benefit from SIOP.

Benefits of SIOP:

  • Focuses on acquiring academic language and content knowledge.
  • Easier to scaffold instruction for language proficiency.
  • Includes mother-tongue language with the target language.

Components of the SIOP Model

  1. Lesson Preparation
  2. Building Background
  3. Comprehensible Input
  4. Strategies
  5. Interaction
  6. Practice & Application
  7. Lesson Delivery
  8. Review & Assessment

SIOP Principles

  1. Ongoing language instruction for student achievement is the primary instructional component for second language learners.
  2. Content instruction with higher-level instructional practices is valuable for second-language learners’ language and literacy learning.
  3. Content teaching should involve students in purposeful instructional strategies to guide learning.
  4. Lessons should be sequential and include a beginning, middle, and end with an exit ticket.

How to Leverage the Benefits of SIOP in the Classroom

SIOP combines the challenges of content mastery with the rewards of high-level engagement and collaboration.

By leveraging best practices from experienced educators, start applying the principles of this powerful program in your classroom. Creating an interactive learning environment fosters critical thinking, problem-solving, and collaboration.

Engage with Structured Interaction

Structured interaction with students is one of the significant benefits of the SIOP model.

Interaction is building in regular checks for understanding or setting activities to facilitate dialogue and brainstorming.

By encouraging conversations with peers, students learn their voices while still keeping the focus on learning objectives.

Encouraging collaboration also allows students to solve problems and connect concepts across curriculums.

Make Use of Authentic Activities and Input from Students

Authenticity is an essential element of the SIOP model.

Offering activities and tasks that are meaningful to students promote more profound understanding and engagement.

Incorporating feedback from students into daily classroom activities reinforces their autonomy and invests them in their learning.

Additionally, giving students a voice in the classroom helps them feel more valued and respected.

Incorporate SIOP Learning Strategies into Curriculum

The SIOP model encourages using instructional strategies to ensure the content is relevant to each student.

For example, teaching strategies such as cooperative learning, collaborative writing, and problem-based learning ensure students contribute their ideas and perspectives to the lesson.

Through these activities, students gain ownership of their learning and can apply what they’ve learned in real-world settings.

Promote Cooperative Learning with SIOP

Cooperative learning is a process in which students work interdependently to complete a task while developing their problem-solving and communication skills.

With the SIOP model, teachers promote cooperative learning by using strategies that foster the active involvement of all learners.

For example, provide meaningful, thoughtful content, and help students learn how to collaborate cooperatively.

This kind of learning is invaluable for student growth because it encourages collaboration, problem-solving and critical thinking skills.

Integrate Multiple Language Acquisition Strategies with SIOP Model

The SIOP theory also emphasizes content and language objectives (CLOs) significantly.

When teachers properly combine learning objectives with language acquisition strategies, it strengthens the educational experience.

CLOs include:

  • Using visuals to convey concepts.
  • Allowing students to practice their target language in controlled practices or dialogues.
  • Encouraging them to create linguistic representations of key ideas or facts.

Integrating multiple language strategies into your lesson plan is an excellent way to leverage the benefits of SIOP and help students develop their language proficiency.

SIOP Comprehensible Input

Comprehensible input is the interrelated importance of the educator’s messages and how students interpret them.

Three parts of an educator’s message are evaluated in this stage:

  • the teacher’s speech
  • the language of the task
  • how students interpret the message

Educators need to give clear and comprehensible instructions to students for each task in a lesson for student understanding.

These instructions should focus on the overall objective of the task as well as the procedure for completing it.

The language used to instruct students should match their development level.

Additionally, it must be written in a manner that is clear and easy to understand.

Finally, educators should monitor student progress in understanding the lesson and adjust the language used accordingly.

Explaining Activities Using SIOP Comprehensible Input

SIOP is laid out to stress the language of a task should be clear and plain.

If students are given a task too difficult, they won’t have a clear idea of what they should do to complete the task. Ultimately resulting in a complete loss of their interest.

SIOP comprehensible input is a framework for clear and simple instructions for each task. It also explains how students are more motivated when they perform tasks easily.

Sometimes teachers feel rushed and make mistakes in providing meaningful instruction to students.

One mistake is not giving enough information about the lesson or task.

The clearer the instructions, the more accurate the interpretation.

In addition, it is important to give instructions at the right time and in the right place.

Types of Explanations

Subtle clues in words, tone of voice, body language, and/or gestures provide additional information that gives meaning to the task and facilitates learning.

Questioning and comprehension checking helps to ensure students receive meaningful communication.

The question “what do you understand about the task?” is helpful for students to describe what it is they are to do in the lesson.

Giving Instructions

The instruction should be composed of small, comprehensible chunks.

Encouraging students to repeat instructions provides benefits to student learning.

For example, when students repeat instructions, they hear their speech, correct any mispronunciation, and clarify instructions.

Asking questions when they don’t understand the task or instruction helps maintain interaction between the teacher and students. Asking questions maintains engagement and ensures no one feels left out or frustrated.

Motivational Input

Motivational input is the degree to which students are motivated to make a meaningful interpretation of the task at hand.

SIOP comprehensible input strategies include setting up an environment where students participate in meaningful tasks. The environment supports students in creating a context for learning through interactive activities.

When an educator provides a positive environment for learning and interaction, students will be more likely to engage in the activity. They will have the motivation to do so with more vigor.

SIOP Comprehensible Input for Language Learners

Teachers of language learners should practice speaking and giving instructions for ten percent of the lesson.

Students should do the remaining ninety percent of the talk time.

SIOP comprehensible input strategies allow students opportunities to model their own language learning.

Suggested strategies include:

  • The teacher must give explicit instructions with fewer than six words per sentence when speaking.
  • Slowly and clearly pronouncing each syllable helps students learn the language to give instructions.
  • Showing good listening behavior teaches students to be better listeners.

Communicative language instruction is more important than ever.

“The teacher’s role is to guide communications, encourage conversation, respond to questions, and correct errors as needed” (Larsen-Freeman & Cameron, 2006, p. 532).

A major shift away from grammar-focused instruction has occurred in language classrooms. Making listening and speaking the primary skills developed in classes.

Teacher Talk Time (10%)

Here’s how a ten percent strategy works in a classroom.

  • The instructor asks the students to create and practice some teaching exercises.
  • Students review these first as a whole class.
  • Then each student is separated into a group with a single native speaker.
  • One by one, each of them is asked to demonstrate the exercise to their partner.
  • Volunteers are then called on to correct the errors of their peers.
  • Finally, each group shares its results as a whole class.

This video from TEFL/TESOL about Teacher Talk Time (TTT) shares examples of how to reduce TTT:

Teacher Talk Time (TTT)

Tips for Teacher Talk Time

It’s important to note that while this approach helps the students to overcome their reluctance to speak, it might not be ideal in every situation.

  • If the native speakers are too busy correcting mistakes, they may give up on the exercise altogether.
  • If the students are too busy speaking, they might not get much practice with their grammar or pronunciation.

In addition, asking volunteers to demonstrate the exercises can be a little intimidating.

You know your students best and can determine if this strategy is a good fit.

I find it useful in my English classes as I am teaching all Chinese students learning English in a Chinese high school.

The students welcome corrections and feedback from native English teachers and students with higher proficiency in the English language.

Having said that, this type of exercise makes a lot of sense in a classroom where students are getting their first taste of speaking and listening in an intermediate class.

It’s a great strategy for students to practice their speaking skills in a low-stress environment.

This allows students to hear the language pronounced successfully and then offers them the chance to speak, correcting the errors of others.

The results of this method are visible in class. After 15 minutes of practice with a native or highly proficient English speaker, students correctly pronounce words and emphasize syllables and intonation.

Formative Assessment Strategies

During the ten percent, it helps to record giving instructions for students to re-listen if they need. It also is a great strategy for students to use so they correct their speech.

As the teacher sees fit, this process can be repeated, broken down into smaller groups, or expanded to more complex activities. 

One tool I like to use is FlipGrid. This tool allows students to each share a short video clip of their discussion about a topic.

It’s great to expand a lesson and assess a student’s use of the target language. 

Here is an explanation of how to use FlipGrid.

Two other techniques to use when testing out new material are:

  • Student Questionnaire- Students fill out a questionnaire after each lesson on the degree of difficulty and whether they feel they understood the instructions.
  • Student Submission- Students practice presentations or feedback before a recording camera and playback their videos for review.

Using Voice Clips

One strategy for formative assessment I use with my English language learners is to ask them to send me a voice clip of a topic area of discussion.

  • Before sending me the voice clip, they listen carefully and correct any errors by making notes.
  • They then send me a corrected voice note and a written summary of what they noticed from the first attempt to the second submission. 

Using these strategies for SIOP comprehensible input has helped me to enhance my teaching and learning experience with my students.

The students have done a great job of correcting errors from other students in face-to-face and online classes.

They develop confidence in making corrections in think-pair-share activities and group discussions. 

It all depends on your student’s age and stage of language development. I suggest using technology as much as possible with your students, as it helps to make the lessons more engaging and memorable. 


SIOP comprehensible input emphasizes students to learn effectively.

Comprehensible input relates to how students understand the messages and tasks given by teachers.

Clear instructions, appropriate language, and effective communication are all essential components of a teacher’s message in order for it to be comprehensible for their students.

With thoughtful attention toward the details of their instruction, teachers ensure their lessons are understood.

Additionally providing language instruction with every asspect of the class by using the 10% teacher talk time.

Thanks for stopping by!

Until next time,


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