The Green Screen

Laurie offers a perfect image to help us understand what our students experience in our CI classrsooms:
For [our] students, students, [L2] is a giant green screen. [L2] is green. “New” [L2] and “old” [L2]  are all green and cannot be separated in their minds. On the other hand, acquired [L2] is now a recognizable color.
When these words/structures [are acquired], then real images start to appear, and to connect and begin to form something recognizable! When too many “green” words appear in a story or a reading, they are invisible and the story gets lost.
It is like a person wearing a “green suit” in front of a “green screen” who is virtually invisible to the television audience. When a story is made up of “visible” words, it is comprehensible, visible, and best of all useable !
The problem is that, because we ourselves have acquired so much more language, we can “see” all those images appearing on the screen as part of the story, but our students can only see the images that they have acquired. It is hard for us to see their screen. That is why it is so important for them to tell us when they are lost, and for us to do frequent, useful comprehension checks.



1 thought on “The Green Screen”

  1. Laurie, this is a wonderful image! I’m teaching my native language, so it’s often hard for me to realize that my students aren’t getting it, and when I see the deer in the headlights look, to figure out where the problem is. Sometimes a sentence that seems very simple to me, where I’m sure they know all the vocabulary, leaves them blank, then I realize that it doesn’t make sense to them because there’s no “that”. To French speakers “The boy I saw” is just four words stuck together. “The boy that I saw” has meaning. I’m going to keep your green screen image in mind to help me try to see what they’re seeing.

Leave a Comment

  • Search

Get The Latest Updates

Subscribe to Our Mailing List

No spam, notifications only about new products, updates.

Related Posts

The Problem with CI

Jeffrey Sachs was asked what the difference between people in Norway and in the U.S. was. He responded that people in Norway are happy and

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



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