Russ Albright on the Invisibles

Russ (in Portland area) shares:

My position on the Invisibles has always been the same (at least once I understood really what it was and it’s implications for my classroom)…. It’s not drastically different from what other teachers have done in the past [but] is the most aligned with the original ideas of TPRS from Blaine Ray and the results of 40+ years of SLA research. I told Ben this when he was in Portland. I feel like he has stripped away all the extra stuff and is just going back to what Blaine originally had in mind. We are meeting the kids where they are. We are building a curriculum about the kids. The frequency list stuff, the targeting, circling, and all that other stuff was built on top of the original premise. Which comes straight from Fluency through TPR Storytelling:

People love a story, [but] it should be about the kids. The grammar syllabus is not aligned with Krashen’s (and now basically all SLA Researchers’) findings on the nature of Language Acquisition.

The reason I like Kathrin’s analogy* is that we are not reinventing the wheel, just building a better one. It might be a matter of semantics, but for me, I think anyone who scoffs at the Invisibles does not understand either the nature of language acquisition or the origins of TPRS.

I feel like we are in a Post TPRS era. We are squabbling over how people deliver CI. Why do we not just accept that there is no wrong way to do this and call “Same Team”? I have not said much on here because of this reason. I feel like we get attacked enough by administrators, parents, community members, and grammar teachers.

*[ed. note: Kathrin Shechtman in Erlangen, Germany said on FB that “…stepping out of the shadow of a curriculum and going freestyle with these 100% student created stories has been a wonderful change. Do you really have to reinvent the wheel to come up with something new? Can’t you just change the material and composition and have it be new and exciting? I feel like I have gone from a wooden wheel to a rubber one, the basic idea stays the same (Comprehensible Input and Story telling) but the ride is so much smoother. That is MY experience in MY classroom.” ]



7 thoughts on “Russ Albright on the Invisibles”

  1. I’m dyin’ to try Invisibles (or at least One Word Image) in my beginners’ Hebrew class. Here’s my (perceived!) obstacle. Hebrew has plenty of NOUN cognates, but no verb or adjective cognates, really. So, ‘popcorn’, or ‘kangaroo’ or ‘December,’ yes; but not words like ‘big/small’ or ‘happy/sad,’ or ‘purple,’ no cognates with the other kinds of words, either. (Interrogatives, glue & transition words, pronouns, rejoinders…)
    I fear I’d get way outta bounds right away….

    1. If its out of bounds bring it in bounds! You can describe owi and maybe only do one option say “size”. Keep it about three sentences if you want at first, recycle and recycle.

      I never worried about it. Do a little a time and know that in time they will get the routine. You use your body to bring the visual/imagination going.

      I remember doing a comp check with ten fingers and I had about 5/20 students with 7s! Now it is consistently 9 or 10. Though kids can lie, I trust them.

      1. I totally agree. Just add a few characteristics at a time–maybe 1 or 2 or 3. No need to get a ton of details. I saw an OWI demo in Korean. We added very few details but the presenter went slowly and recycled. It was so hard for me I didn’t get bored and appreciated the few details she included. My advice, keep it simple. Go slowly.

        1. Elena this part is important:

          …just add a few characteristics at a time–maybe 1 or 2 or 3. No need to get a ton of details. I saw an OWI demo in Korean. We added very few details but the presenter went slowly and recycled….

          And this:

          …it was so hard for me I didn’t get bored and appreciated the few details she included. My advice, keep it simple. Go slowly….

          With your permission this goes in the new version of the new Invisibles book. If we ask too many questions and there is too much new sound, then our students get very good at faking comprehension. We must learn the difference between them faking it and actually getting it. Asking 8 questions about a one word image may be too much. Asking 3-4 as you mentioned with the Korean lesson is best. Thanks for this comment.

  2. Thanks so much for addressing my fears. Steve, I could just do size or color or happy/sad. Those would easy and limited. I’ve already laid in these verbs: has; likes; wants; eats.
    Can someone pls write me a sample OWI script that only asks 3-4 Qs? I tend (in Spanish and in Hebrew) to ask a zillion ‘Who?’ ‘What?’ and ‘Where?’ questions during scenes and PQA…
    I’ll even provide some noun fodder (Hebrew cognates)…I’m sure I’m getting hung up on the fact that the sounds aren’t similar (nor the words written in a different alphabet) – but I know I can do it in Hebrew. Thanks in advance for pushing me through it, my peeps.

    A few funny Hebrew cognate noun options for OWI and/or Invisibles:
    Broccoli, Sushi, sardine; pony; gorilla; orangutan; any of the months; antenna; canoe; telephone; video; pajamas; sweater; jeans; supermarket; park; museum; dollar; guitar; picnic;

    1. Here is what I did with my Mandarin colleague:
      1. Big/Small
      2. Color
      3. Happy/Sad
      That s really all you need especially at first. MAYBE if you are feeling punchy, ask if the face is big or small. You can get a cute character out of just these three questions.

  3. We do have these fun Hebrew cognate modifiers, so I shouldn’t have trouble getting liftoff!
    Normal; popular; fantastic; miniature

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