1:1 Breakthrough

How do we teach using CI in 1:1 or very small group situations? Nothing has worked so far. It’s been a kind of a leitmotif question here over all the years, one we really haven’t been able to answer. I believe that an answer, a really good answer, can be found in the Invisibles.

During the debate last night one of my boys asked me if I would teach him some French. I hastily replied, “Yes, please!” Listening out of one ear to the horror, I asked Jett to draw a picture. I asked him to put some effort into it, like Tina and I advise in the Invisibles book, so that it has power*.

When, just as the horror on the screen ended, we started talking about Jett’s picture, I learned that Bob the Ninja is 420 years old and that he lives on 101 Meme Avenue. That took us 30 minutes and we quit. We got dozens of reps on his name, age and where he lives. Jett stayed with me. It had everything to do with Bob being his own creation.

I believe in the power of the Invisibles. By talking about an image that a student has created, we immediately move beyond the abstract mental game we used to play with PQA. Just doing that one thing – talking about an image that a student has crafted with all sorts of zany details – is a game changer, a simple shift in subject matter that is profound.

But it’s not just the images created by the students. It’s also the jobs, in a regular classroom (we just can’t have that in a 1:1 class) and the questioning levels, the way they are sequenced. Those three things:

(1) drawings by students.
(2) the twelve or so student jobs, depending on how many you choose to use.
(3) the questioning levels.

create such higher interest. I see the Invisibles and the combination of the three things listed above as a new and serendipitous gift from Heaven. Doing both 1:1 CI lessons and classroom instruction working with carefully crafted student-created images is far more compelling than anything I’ve ever tried or invented in TPRS/CI.

*It is my concerted opinion that doing CI with images crafted by students (not thrown together) is the biggest breakthrough in comprehension based instruction ever. It certainly is for me. It is bigger than Circling, bigger than any of the 30 or 40 new things I invented and wrote about in various books over the past 15 years, possibly bigger than anything we have seen so far since the idea of stories first happened in the early 1990s, except of course the power that drives it all, the Three Steps. On top of all that, working from images created by the students is infinitely simpler, perhaps because it is infinitely more personalized. (I wrote five books to de-confuse myself because the old TPRS concept was so confusing and intimidating that it was maddening.) After all the confusion, I feel that we have landed in safe harbor with the Invisibles. Fifteen years of Sturm and Drang, and now safe harbor. It was worth it! Except for those self-appointed FB leaders who are picking at my ideas online without having first educated themselves about them. Man, that sucks!



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • Search

Get The Latest Updates

Subscribe to Our Mailing List

No spam, notifications only about new products, updates.

Related Posts

CI and the Research (cont.)

Admins don’t actually read the research. They don’t have time. If or when they do read it, they do not really grasp it. How could

Research Question

I got a question: “Hi Ben, I am preparing some documents that support CI teaching to show my administrators. I looked through the blog and

We Have the Research

A teacher contacted me awhile back. She had been attacked about using CI from a team leader. I told her to get some research from

The Research

We don’t need any more research. In academia that would be a frivolous comment, but as a classroom teacher in languages I support it. Yes,



Subscribe to be a patron and get additional posts by Ben, along with live-streams, and monthly patron meetings!

Also each month, you will get a special coupon code to save 20% on any product once a month.

  • 20% coupon to anything in the store once a month
  • Access to monthly meetings with Ben
  • Access to exclusive Patreon posts by Ben
  • Access to livestreams by Ben