Look and Discuss 1

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34 thoughts on “Look and Discuss 1”

  1. So many things to comment on here, so sorry if I ramble:

    1) Using images with CI is great! I also see this as taking the classroom further out of TPRS and into TCI, which I think is a great direction to go. You could use landscapes, images of people, you could make it culturally relevant with famous pieces of art or images OF artists. Thus, not only would you be doing something ‘pre-AP’, but you would also be further aligning with the Cultures standard. You could also illicit their opinions of the piece (if doing art) or ask if they’ve ever been to that place or if they would want to go there — all great and interesting CI using high-frequency structures. (Of course, in keeping with limiting vocabulary, you would want to make sure the language used was review outside of the 4 new terms.)

    2. In discussing the progression of the method, I could see a very natural progression from the Circling with Balls activity into L & D with images — at first making the images related to discussion from Circling with Balls and then introducing other “subject matter”. (For example, you could project an image of a basketball court and then have a discussion with a classmate that you know loves basketball about whether or not they want to go there, etc etc.)

    3. Images and this activity of L & D would also be a great way to do simple Content-Based Instruction about, say, the planets. Or habits (rain forest, desert, plains, ocean, etc).

    The more and more that I think about the implications of TCI and TPRS in the classroom vs. being chained to a textbook curriculum, the more I am excited (and slightly overwhelmed in a good way) by all the possibilities! For me, it’s becoming more and more of a way to not only be truly standards-based in the language classroom, but also aligned with acquisition research AND you really get to know your students on a personal level. So empowering!

    Anyway, just my two cents. Great post, Ben! Should this be a new category? As I could see this becoming another nice tool in our TCI bag of activities.

    1. To add to my comment, you could also do this with short clips (thinking movies, commercials, anything ‘authentic’ — further increasing interest AND showing authentic texts! Win win!

  2. This is good stuff, Ben. A picture is concrete and almost immediately defines the boundaries. The wonder of internet technology these days is that you can almost literally take the four words you want to teach, put them in Google images and find a photo that will work. So, while we are all (justifiably) bemoaning how much harder we work at CI teachers, let’s acknowledge this: the internet is a quick help with L and D. I just want to point out that the moniker L and D recalls for me R and D which is a huge powerhouse in my CI classroom. Because I know and can feel in my bones how R and D works, that transfers for me to how L and D works. Thanks for sharing this. As with so many other things, I’ve copied and pasted the “how to do this” part of the post and it’s now in my CI Classroom file. As I told a workshop full of teachers this weekend, this is the best nearly 5.00 I spend every month!

    1. …you can almost literally take the four words you want to teach, put them in Google images and find a photo that will work….

      And that is exactly what we need to do. Since I myself don’t target vocabulary (I know, I know so I’m a weirdo) I don’t do this. But for those who need to target vocabulary, this is exactly the plan, unveiled in Los Alomitos, by the way, by Paul Kirschling.

      1. Ben, this question is sort of off topic from Look and Discuss, but I’m interested in how you don’t target vocabulary. I don’t need to target vocab since I’m the only French teacher at my school and I think most of the time admistration forgets I’m even here (very nice considering all the things I’m probably not doing well in their eyes…). When you’re looking for an image for L & D do you just find an image you think will be captivating to your students regardless of what vocab it will allow? How do you make sure students have acquired certain vocab (besides the question words) before they move to the next level (or do you?).

  3. This post along is worth the price of admission 🙂 So practical, so easy so COMPELLING!

    Thank you so much Ben,
    on a SUNDAY 🙁

    (I think I will just give up trying to get you to rest on weekends……. no, on second thought, I won’t!)


  4. This will also segue nicely into Movie Talk which Michele Whaley is using with great results. Laurie too. Another technique I have toyed with when watching a film is to take a screen shot from the film and discuss the still image after watching the moving images. I tried this back in December using the cartoon “Trotro” – the clips are on Youtube. You can watch in several different languages – lots of high frequency structures.

  5. Here’s the simplest version Skip:

    1. Find a movie or video clip that will be compelling. (It can be as short as 10 seconds!!))
    2. Show the clip to the students. (No talking is allowed.)
    3. Go back to the beginning of the clip.
    4. Show the clip a few seconds at a time. Stop and discuss with the class what has happened/is happening/will happen in comprehensible language.

    Poof! That’s it in a nutshell. Michele is doing a presentation at NTPRS. She has a number of posts on her website http://www.mjtprswordpress.com We also have a number on the Embedded Reading site (look on the right hand side: Embedded Readings w/Videos)

    You do NOT even have to use a clip in the TL…just mute the sound. Commercials are FANTASTIC!!!!!!!
    * When I first tried this, I did the stop/start/discuss first…then showed the entire clip. It was working very well. Then I went to observe Haiyun Lu and she was doing it the suggested way…have students watch in silence first, then watch and discuss……………….SO MUCH BETTER!!! So I tried it with my own students…..they like it better this way too. (But, if there is a surprise at the end I don’t show that part until after we’ve watched and discussed the rest of the clip!)

    THEY NEED THE VISUAL to discuss….when they have only seen a few seconds, they are not getting enough of “the picture” to really get engaged. So, show in silence first, then show and discuss.

    BTW start with short clips….this is a generation that watches movies at home, not in the theater, so they truly believe that loud, open conversation about the movie is right way to behave…they will need to be retrained to stay silent!!!!

    with love,

      1. Having tried MovieTalk this year – it was great, and I did what Laurie describes. I would like to add some use of screenshots for L & D that could lead to the kids’ writing about the movie. That would be a nice addition, I think. I used the couple weeks before winter break for MovieTalk, and that was a good decision: the kids were able to focus because the movie was compelling to them.
        (Chinese movie: “Lost on Journey” is the English translation.)

  6. L and D is part of how I do movies with my students. It’s not Movie Talk, since I’ve been doing it for years and I use the subtitles in the target language. I call it Reading a Movie. We watch a scene, describe what we can see, read the subtitles, talk about what happens, how the characters feel. Why they do what they do. I give them Embedded readings, sometimes before and sometimes after, adapting to what the scene offers.

    1. Absolutely Judy!! It’s the interaction between the movie, the kids and YOU that makes the difference!! (BTW…I think adding the reading is great…and I love to do Emb. Readings w/ MT…with the summaries that the kids write!)

      with love,

  7. This is totally boss. A rival for questionnaire PQA, one word images, first stories, word associations, and all those other beginning-of-year activities. But this is even better because, as you say, Ben, you can throw some L&D in at any time and at any level.

  8. “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Indeed!

    I have a file of what I call “Fotos Fantásticas” which I fill with images that get sent to me by my mother in law or I find on the internet. I have a few wonderful collections. One is of babies and their pets, very silly, the kids love ’em. Another I call “Parent of the year” which is a collection of photos of parents doing stupid things, like riding on a motorcycle while towing the baby carriage behind with one hand, etc. Unbelievable!

    So compelling. Maybe that’s the ticket: there are so many captivating images. Krashen’s net just got wider.

    I can send a zip folder of these collections if you ask me off line at benlev2@yahoo.com. Maybe other people have compelling photos to share?

    Today we talked about a photo of a dog licking a baby’s face. I used the word “besa” (kissing). This is likely to lead to some animated PQA about kissing, which will be high-interest to my teens. I’ll take out some stuffed animals to use instead of actors for this one! Makes me think of (was it Joe’s story or Blaine’s) the story “El besador del año” (The kisser of the year).

  9. Ben,

    Bonjour mon ami,

    I m glad to see you post stuff on this blog, another thing we have in common….
    Please send me those files. If you don’t I will remind you on our next SKYPE session. Sound like you have some pretty funny photos.
    Picture files, an oldie but a goodie!

  10. Is there a video anywhere yet of somebody doing L & D? I’m trying to start using this as a break from stories, but I’m having troubled conceptualizing how I can make this last for an entire class. I think I understand how to start, but how do you all prolong L & D to keep the CI going for the whole class? First I show an image and establish meaning for 3 or 4 key structures. Then do some PQA on those 3 or 4 structures. But then, how do I keep discussion going off of just those 3 or 4 structures and the image, especially since my kids have acquired so little language already?

    I.e., from what I’m gathering, it seems that when you all do L & D the conversation you have with your students grows from the image and target structures but includes a heavy amount of “review” structures that you’re able to use since the kids have previously acquired it. But what if my kids have VERY minimal acquired language? How do I keep a conversation going that’s actually interesting and doesn’t end up being a boring Q and A session about what’s in the picture with yes/no answers? Maybe if I use L & D at this point it simply needs to be short until my kids have acquired more language.

  11. Just a quick thought — I think you’re right that, maybe at this point, you should keep L & D short as a little break from stories / readings.

    Also, and these are suggestions based on not knowing what structures you are using, but I always find it useful to ask students personal questions using the structures. This may seem like a ‘duh’ response, but for example, if you’re talking about the colors in a painting you could ask students if they like those colors? what is their favorite color? OR if you’re talking about a bridge, you could not only ask for extensive details about that bridge (size, length, color), but fish for students that may ‘have’ or ‘want’ a bridge and build off of that. And if no student wants a bridge, you could just say ‘so-and-so wants a bridge’ and then go off into a discussion describing the kind of bridge Susie wants, and comparing it to the bridge in the painting. These are all just things I might do in order to extend the discussion. Hope that helps a little — sorry it’s kind of a quick response! Gotta get to class :).

    In short,
    – ask for personal details from students about things in the painting
    – if an object, ask if any student has or wants that object, and then go further in describing the ‘new’ object that that student wants

    All credit for this really goes to Ben, as found in his PQA in a Wink! book 🙂

  12. Yeah we keep L & D short, as you said Greg. And we personalize it if the discussion falters, as you said Nathan.

    This of course reflects what we do in stories but, lacking a script and instead being limited with only one static image as we are in L & D, we learn to establish meaning for only three or four terms related to the image, and personalize when we can, and when it loses energy we learn to toss it fast and move on to another picture or some other activity.

    (There are all kinds of dictée/textivate/imtranslator options available at that point if we need to move the kids out of whole brain learning bc of their mood*, or whatever.)

    This establishing meaning and then personalizing is what we do in stories, it is what CI is, and the pattern thus described in Step 1 of TPRS is revealed as a secret to all comprehension based instruction. The pattern may be THE secret.

    It is as if we have a train (CI) but it needs rails for it to roll on (structures) and as long as we keep the train on those rails, whether it be a picture or a story, we are good.

    Stories last longer than pictures because the tracks provided are longer, in the form of the script with its three locations. We can’t make a story out of a picture very often and we shouldn’t try.

    So we learn to bail fast with L & D. We teach the four terms, discuss the image, try to personalize, but if all that is weak we toss the image and move quickly to the many other options we have available here in the categories column.

    *when kids are being jerks I have them write. I toss what they write, most of the time, as soon as the last kid is out the door. Why should I work extra if they are the ones being the jerks?

    1. Thanks Ben – very helpful. Especially the part about making them write if they’re being “jerks” and to bail fast to something else if the L & D goes flat. I think most of my kids at this point in the year are going to take very little seriously if it doesn’t have the illusions of “work” that they have to turn in, so I think frequent writing might be the answer.

  13. “I toss what they write, most of the time, as soon as the last kid is out the door. Why should I work extra if they are the ones being the jerks?”

    Oh wow! Why hadn’t I thought of this? I currently offered an “optional learning plan” that I got from Bryce’s website. It involves setting kids up in another space (not a social space) and they do a packet of worksheets and other boring stuff by themselves. I cringed as I copied these sheets bc I don’t see what they are going to get out of it, and I feel like it may undo any gains they have made this year. PLUS I felt like “Crap! Now I have to read all that nonsense!” But maybe I don’t?

    Has anyone ever done this type of thing and can you offer advice? It is just a temporary option, like for a week or maybe 2. I don’t want to exile these kids form the group. It is more of a “time out” situation. But still. And yes. It is because I suck at jGR. Live and learn 🙂

      1. I really enjoy this line: “*when kids are being jerks I have them write. I toss what they write, most of the time, as soon as the last kid is out the door. Why should I work extra if they are the ones being the jerks?”

        Agreed, and it’s why I’m not using some boring workbook pages as alternative work any more — I dislike grading most things and that was intentionally boring stuff. But I could assign it and just not grade it, right?

  14. It’s another idée reçue about the profession that we’ve bought hook, line and sinker. We collect stuff, we grade it all, we spend hours entering it into the computer, thereby missing precious moments in our lives, working away bc of some platitude handed down to us from the 19th century that the harder we work, the more we get done.

    Not in this work! In fact, the biggest thing we need in this work is our sense of inner balance, calm, self-acceptance and peace, which doesn’t merely happen but must be cultivated in each moment we are in the building. Not easy!

    But when we have those things and teach using CI, even bad CI is tons more effective than the gains that the “pursuit of excellence” via hard work brings us. We destroy ourselves with work and then wonder why we hate it.

    Now here we have found, has been given to us, something that allows us to fully relax in our profession and we blow it bc we feel we need to get as much as we can into the book. We need to graph everything. Measure it. Keep date trackers that are about as accurate as a hunting dog trying to walk a straight line in a field.

    Thank you, Diane, for reminding us of this. Yes, we can assign stuff and not grade it. And if we know we have those two kids in the front row who really would like the feedback, we provide that. But we don’t let the system lead us around by our chins. The other kids don’t give a rat’s ass.

    I provide lots of inaccurate information into my gradebook and yet in an odd way the final grade each term is highly accurate. The recycling bin is there for a reason. Use it. Relax. Or you could shorten your career and possibly your life by buying into ideas that are being shoved aside at lightening speed in this new century about what a teacher is.

  15. I just saw this after seeing Skip’s request for presenstion suggestions.

    I more or less came up with the same idea on my own and I LOVE Ben’s description of it. I have two broad categories of images:

    A) randoms. I just google “____” and use that depending on whether or not I have a story or novel chapter whose structures I want to PQA or possibly AFTER a story to reinforce stuff. Randoms are great as they let the kids invent stuff: names, places etc, and often you can ask a simple backstory.

    B) Simpsons images. Very good because most kids know the background info about the family, so you can get a ton of reps. E.g . there’s a picture of Bart riding his skAteboard. You can circle “anda en patineta” and then talk about the rest of Bart’s life– he doesn’t like school, he argues with Homer, he likes ice cream etc.

    The disadvantage to this is, it’s less creative than using random images. The advantage is, kids really do understand and know the background, so kids feel like they know the stuff. A great trick with Simpsons images is, make mistakes–zillions more reps. E.g. “Class, does Bart have three sisters?”

  16. I am flailing this morning after being gone unexpectedly for five days, during which my awesome sub showed short clips of videos (in English) about the historical figures we’d been studying (in Russian). Reading this post gives me the idea that as a follow-up, I can now go to the videos and put up a picture of Nicholas II, for example, and we can talk about him. What happened to him and his family (or didn’t happen, to Anastasia, for instance) and to the rest of Russia is captivating enough to talk about for a while.

    Thanks for posting the links to this refresher of L&D.

  17. Just wanted to point out that you can now embed an image into a textivate resource. See this French example: http://www.textivate.com/frames.php?img=http%3A//phaven-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/files/image_part/asset/402704/qbUIYs7UZ9GLIbLq8f42LZFWXOM/medium_media_httpwwwvangoghm_dpBex.jpg&res=menu-tcjjn1 (bit of a long url, I know).

    Here’s a blog post that explains how it’s done: http://textivate.posthaven.com/picture-prompt-for-your-textivities-exploiting-a-picture-with-textivate

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