Note: I’m coaching a Chinese teacher on the Invisibles. Here are some questions that she asked. They cover more than Chinese instruction, so even if you don’t teach Chinese you may want to give this a quick read, if you are doing the Invisibles and already have some inclination of what Category A is about:
Q: Should we limit the amount of language, since Chinese has few cognates?
A: Choosing cognates can be good to a certain point. Linda Li is big on cognates. But in my opinion the real answer is to just go really slowly and make yourself understood, cognates or not. You will be limiting the amount of words in Cat. A to an extreme degree. That’s why we start the Invisibles process off with Card Talk, that and making sure we can put in the classroom management piece strongly right away, which would not be possible with Categories B or C . Our work is about being authentic and speaking to our students in a completely natural way, and not stilted. When we do that, we align with the research. So, my advice is to not try to use a lot of cognates, but to just speak naturally and ultra-slowly (easy for them but painfully slow for you).