"Los nueve niños están comiendo pollo."
Translation:The nine boys are eating chicken.
How about this:
"Los nueve ninos estan comiendo pollo" means the nine boys ARE EATING chicken but "Los nueve ninos comen pollo" mean "the nine boys EAT chicken"
The difference between I am sleeping, you are running etc. with I sleep, you run etc.
Basically, the temporal (as you aptly put it) which is the more common use is the "iendo" version
The gerund form (-iendo) means the actions is occurring while we speak.
Where are the nine boys? The nine boys are eating chicken. In Spanish, the gerund form is used, Los nueve niños están comiendo pollo.
The infinitive form is for general knowledge.
What are the nine boys eating every day for lunch? The nine boys are eating chicken. In this example, in Spanish, the infinitive form (comen) would be used, Los nueve niños comen pollo.
edit: and what caiser said below
How can you tell whether it's children or boys that the person is talking about?
What's the difference between the Spanish sentence above and "Los nueve ninos comen pollo"? Would both translate the same in English "the nine boys are eating chicken"?
They are almost the same. Continuos present (DL sentence) is more temporal, simple present (your sentence) is more permanent. In this case, the situation (the meal) is temporal so the difference is insignificant, and they are interchageable.
So I will put another example:
Estoy viviendo en Madrid: It is a temporal situation, perhaps the speaker has a new temporal job.
Vivo en Madrid= It is his habitual place to live.
Is it true that native speakers do not use el gerundio that often? I struggle with this, and am often corrected for using it too much in Spanish.
CANNOT understand the female Spanish speaker which makes it difficult to answer correctly as many sentences make no sense out of context ergo the speaker needs to enunciate very carefully. She does not.