Comprehensible Input-based teaching is practicing our craft with an awareness of the Acquisition-Learning Hypothesis.  Here are some elements of the Acquisition/Learning Paradigm based on my reading and experience:

Acquisition                                                                 Learning

Subconscious “picking up” of language                   Conscious study of language

Focus is on input                                                        Focus is on output

Student is mostly unaware of process                   Student is highly aware of process

Feels easy                                                                   Feels difficult

Implicit                                                                       Explicit

Informal                                                                      Formal

Acoustical                                                                   Intellectual

Listening-based                                                          Writing-based

Instinct                                                                         Intellect

Developing a feeling of correctness                          Following grammar rules

Focus on meaning                                                      Focus on form

L2 is used to talk about content                                 English is used to talk about L2 rules

Attention is on the message                                        Attention is on the medium

Contextualized language use                                     Context-free examples

Little-to-No error correction                                     Error correction

Grammar as aid to immediate communication          Grammar as subject matter

Depends on Attitude                                                   Depends on Aptitude

Dependent on meaningful interaction                       Can be independent of interaction

Works with involved students                                    Works with “smart” students

Works for all                                                              Works for some

Since we have chosen to become language teachers, we are all probably good at “learning language.”   We were good at both acquiring language AND at playing the language class game.  We understood (more or less) what those brilliant grammatical explanations meant and could (more or less) apply them.  We imagine that everyone else must be that way too.  But they aren’t.  And they are not “good” at it for good reason.  It is NOT because they are just lazy, unfocused, or apathetic.  Most people’s brains just don’t work that way.  We word nerds are the odd ones.  We are the abnormal ones.   95% of people do not think in terms of grammar.  That means one student per class will be able to pick up useful language when we default to the learning mode of teaching.

Without this realization, our default setting will always be to the right side of the chart above.  Since we were most likely taught that way, we will swerve from the acquisition mode to the learning mode when we are under pressure.

Happens to me all the time.  I don’t like it and I fight against that tendency.