Elena Overvold, a high school teacher in Portland who uses the Invisibles, has said this:
…just add a few characteristics at a time—maybe 1 or 2 or 3. No need to get a ton of details. I saw a one-word demo in Korean. We added very few details but the presenter went slowly and… it was just difficult enough for me that I didn’t get bored. I appreciated the few details asked by the teacher. My advice is to keep it simple. Go slowly…
This is incredibly important information. In this work we must learn to ask only as many questions as our students can handle and at the proper speed. We cannot let our desire to make the story interesting derail the need of the students to understand without effort what we are saying to them.
We can let go of that fear anyway – the fear of not being interesting enough. When we build characters and stories that are based entirely on the students’ ideas, it is far more interesting than when the story is based on pre-selected targets that “need to be taught.”
When there are too many new sounds, our students get very good at faking comprehension. When we speak too quickly, our students get frustrated because we do not respect the fact that we know the language and they don’t.
Frustrated students quickly are off-task as they seek ways to escape the discomfort of not feeling smart and capable. Then the issue of classroom management rears its ugly head.
Simplicity in the amount of new language that we include is key. But how we use our bodies and voices are of the utmost importance as well. They are our tools to help stay comprehensible, despite not aiming for 100% transparency in our word choices and despite not repeating target words and structures over and over.
If time permits, and it generally does after the students have some experience in building One Word Images, the following questions are almost guaranteed to ramp up the fun considerably.
5. Intelligence Level – Smart or Dumb
6. Rich or Poor/Kind or Mean