Comprehensible Input

Hi there. I am learning Kurdish and Japanese. My questions are;

  1. what if there’s barely any input material in the language as it is the case in Kurdish. How would you start from scratch in that case?
  2. Isn’t it a contradiction to speak of “comprehensible input” if you are an ABSOLUTE beginner in a language?
    Appreciate your help folks and is there a way to contact Steve personally`? Thanks. Archie

Input is comprehensible, when you can find a way to understand it that’s not too strenuous for the purpose of the input. In the case of absolute beginners, this usually means a very short lesson that’s provided with translation, so you can quickly decipher what each word in the lesson means, and what each sentence in the lesson is communicating. Not too strenuous, for the purpose of this input.

As you gradually progress to more complex texts, this process can keep building and more and more input will become comprehensible, either by comparing to the translation, or by only looking up certain words, etc. etc.


hi there. Thx for your reply. Makes sense. When I start from scratch, I usually start learning numbers 0-10 and then 20,30,40etc up to 100 and practise a ton until I get comfortable using and listening to them. I have them recorded by a native that randomly picks the numbers out of a bag. I then jot down what I hear. Have you ever started from scratch and how did you go about it? Curious to learn. Take care

I think that when starting from scratch, the best is using short lessons with translations like I mentioned above. The “Mini Stories” here on LingQ are one example for something like that. These types of lessons teach you important basic vocab in context, including numbers.

I find that any approach that aims to teach you words out of context, such as the one one mentioned with learning the numbers first, is an ineffective use of your time. In the amount of time it takes you to learn numbers 1-100 out of context, you’d be able to learn to understand basic conversations and at least know how to ask where the nearest restaurant is. It find that being able to find a restaurant in a foreign country, as benign as a skill that may be, is a lot more useful than counting to a 100.

Also, since written numbers are pretty much the same everywhere, numbers in and of themselves, are almost the least important words to know since you can easily communicate them just by writing and reading. Of course you should learn them at some point, but–

For me, numbers, days of the week, and months, are really the last things I actually learn, and I only get used to them due to repeated input. If you’re not living in a country, and you’re not in school where you have to take tests on vocab like that, numbers and dates have a somewhat reduced importance. I’m NOT saying not to learn them, of course you should, but starting with them is just counterproductive in my opinion.