Season 3, Episode 9: Shifting to CI with Bertha Delgadillo

Welcome to Inspired Proficiency and thank you for joining us for episode 9 of season 3. As always, please tweet any takeaways and inspirations to #inspiredproficiency.

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Download the episode here: or listen and subscribe on Apple Podcasts here or find it wherever you listen to podcasts!

Today Ashley chats with Bertha Delgadillo and then for the variety segment she will share more from her classroom and interviews for student portfolios.



Bertha Delgadillo is a teacher from Mexico currently teaching in Savannah, GA. She has been teaching for five years and has taught Spanish at all levels of the high school and has some middle school experience. Bertha is here today to share her story of shifting her classroom to using more Comprehensible Input (CI).

What does CI mean to Bertha?

  • Delivering messages the students can understand
  • Her job is to go slow, show pictures, and make sure students are acquiring input
  • Repeated exposure and compelling material is necessary


  • Martina Bex and the Comprehensible Classroom
  • Mis Clases Locas and Allison Weinhold
  • Many other blogs and Facebook communities

The importance of CI in the classroom:

  • During her first year she wasn’t sure she was doing the best she could for her students to be successful.
  • She also felt some of the material was too hard for her students and she wanted to find other things that students wanted to read and could read.

Ashley and Bertha continue discussing Bertha’s shift from grammar focused instruction to acquisition based instruction and use a metaphor of a theme park to tell the story.

  • Entering the theme park
    • Facebook groups, like NTRPS
      • They can be overwhelming at first because there is a wealth of information.
      • Be patient with yourself and pace yourself. Everyone went through what you’re going through and you need time to take them all in.
      • Embrace it with gratitude because it’s exciting to experience all these new ideas.
  • Waiting in line for the rides
    • This can be scary too but you have to wait and wait and notice all the other people in the line.
    • Comparing yourself to others
      • Other teachers may be more experienced but all types of people are trying out this new style of teaching and talking to other teachers who are experiencing this is a great way to learn and grow from others.
      • Remind yourself why you’re there and don’t give up. We all need to start somewhere.
      • Do not compare yourselves to others because all of our journeys are different. No one started out being great- they worked at it and you can too!
  • Getting on the ride finally but should you have bought the fast pass?
    • Which seat will you take and where will you sit: the front, the back, or the middle?
    • Professional Development
      • How fast do you want yourself to grow? You can grow at your own pace!
      • We are all at different phases in our lives and we need to do what we need to do to be successful. GO SLOW if that’s what you need or go FULL FORCE if you can and want to.
      • Many people share videos and resources that are free like the generous Tina Hargaden and La Maestra Loca.
      • There are free things to help us enrich our teaching like listening to podcasts like Inspired Proficiency.
      • There are also things that cost money and it can leave you broke if you let it so watch yourself. It’s ok to have FOMO (fear of missing out) but thanks to Twitter we can still be somewhere digitally without being there physically.
      • Make a decision at the beginning of the year to decide what you really want to go to and budget out your PD as best you can.
  • You finally ride the rollercoaster and you want to ride it again
    • Build your tribe of fellow teachers and make connections!
      • You can keep going on your journey alone or you can work together with fellow educators and share and grow together.
      • Tell people what’s going on in your classroom. Share your success stories or your not so successful stories. You might spark someone else to try it or you might make a new friend and learn together how to make more success stories.
      • Bertha’s tribe uses a Facebook group just for their district to communicate and keep in touch. They ask each other for feedback and share success (and fails). They also meet once a month beyond their contract time and meetings to share and exchange ideas and build a community of teachers working together.
      • There are a ton of groups on Facebook for anything you might need to learn and grow as an educator. There’s Woology for Spanish teachers using Señor Wooly. There’s the Inspired Proficiency group for sharing ideas related to the podcast we all know and love.

Final ideas from Bertha:

  • Rome was not built in one day. A great teacher does not become a great teacher right away so be patient with yourself.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions and reach out to others for help.
  • Limit yourself (budget wise) in professional learning. Do what you can with free resources.


Ashley talks to us about her portfolio speaking assessments. She offers a full day workshop about this but she is condensing it to explain a little bit for us on the podcast.

Speaking assessments are some of the hardest things to show other people and to help students understand how they’re growing. Her department uses Google sites and Youtube to record videos of the teacher and the student conducting an interview. These tools are also used for students to conduct self guided speaking assessments spontaneously without a teacher interview. Seesaw or Flipgrid are two other applications or websites that could be used to do something very similar.

Students create a portfolio in a Google site for their Spanish growth. They add many things to this portfolio over their three year language program experience. They have 5-6 videos, a folder with writing samples, two audio files, two self assessments.

These videos range from 30 seconds to sometimes five minutes by the end of eighth grade. You can see the sixth grader listing a few words and then you can witness their growth with some phrases in seventh grade. Then you see them as an eighth grader sounding so different and creating with the language with so much vocabulary and rich sentences.

Once the videos are recorded, they are put into Youtube. From Youtube they are placed on to their Google site portfolio. Parents and teachers can hear and watch these videos and look at the other portfolios.

Ashley gives very specific feedback based on the ACTFL proficiency guidelines. She relates to the student the topics she is hearing and language structures they are using or could be using. She does not do this detailed feedback for the 5 or 6 times they do this because students don’t need or want this.

Ashley creates a folder that she shares to the students through Google drive. She saves their writing and scans it into their folders. From this portfolio folder, they can be put onto their Google site. Students also self assess their work and that goes into their portfolio.

Their prompts are open ended for speaking and writing so students don’t get stuck and can’t write anything. Her department does not use units so the prompts can relate to many weeks of study that weren’t necessarily in a unit.

Her school allows her department to do formal conducted teacher interviews twice a year where the classes combine and they get a substitute so they don’t have to worry about sub plans. The students watch a movie while they wait and then do an interview for about five minutes with the teacher. These more formal interviews are conducted at the beginning and the end of the year to show growth.

When students are in eighth grade in Ashley’s programs they have to demonstrate their growth to juries and show what they have learned. They use their portfolios and more of their eighth grade work to provide evidence of their hard work.

Resources and links mentioned on the show:


Bertha Delgadillo on Twitter @profedelgadillo and her blog here

Other Resources:

Presenting Sponsor! 

Episode sponsors:

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