Lesson 4: Input to Output

Structured Input Activities

Lee and VanPatten define structured input as "input that is manipulated in particular ways to push learners to become dependent on form and structure to get meaning" (2003: 142). Their guidelines for developing structured input activities include:

  • Present one thing at a time.
  • Keep meaning in focus.
  • Move from sentences to connected discourse.
  • Use both oral and written input.
  • Have the learners do something with the input.
  • Keep the learner's processing strategies in mind.

In addition to exercises being meaningful to students, Lee & VanPatten also stress the importance of exercises being truly communicative. A learning task will only be considered communicative if new information is exchanged. The primary focus becomes authentic language use and the development of communicative skills rather than the practice of grammatical structures.

Types of Structured Input Activities

  • Supplying Information
  • Surveys
  • Matching
  • Binary Options (True/False, Logical/Illogical, Normal/Strange, etc.)
  • Ordering/Ranking
  • Selecting Alternatives

Structured Input Activities in Français interactif

Vocabulary Video Exercise (original) Vocabulary Video Exercise (English translation)

What makes this an input activity? Referring to the above list of types of structured input activities, how would you categorize this activity?


A discussion on the video exercise: Audrey et Camille.

Duration: 02:24

Now let's take a look at what we refer to as a signature activity:

Signature Activity (original) Signature Activity (English translation)

How would you categorize this activity? Is it considered input? Is it communicative?


A discussion on the signature activity.

Duration: 02:45


An instructor uses a signature activity in a first-year classroom.

Duration: 03:33

What would you do once the students have gathered the names of their classmates and are finished with the activity? How could you follow up on the information they have gathered?