Five classics for 2019: The Invisible Man

We have five classics for you and your students to explore this year. When we read a story, we read so much more than the plot. Stories, and especially classics, open the door to multiple worlds, which we can become exciting territories for classroom activities and projects. In this series we give a short overview of our new stories: the author, the plot, the characters, the adaptation, the various classroom learning possibilities and some background information about the creation of the reader. The classroom learning projects are mostly CLIL projects (history, science, geography, literature, philosophy, psychoglogy, art) and language areas. Apart from these short overviews, we also prepare detailed lesson and project plans for each title. Watch out for these posts on our blog.

In this post we introduce The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells (Level 4). The adaptation was written by Donatella Velluti, activities were written by Mary Tomalin, and the story was illustrated by Paolo Masiero.

The other new titles are:

1 Who is the author?

Facts about H. G. Well’s life:

  • H. G. stands for Herbert George.
  • He was born in Bromley, near London in 1866 into a modest family.
  • His father was a gardener and shopkeeper, and his mother was a lady’s maid.
  • When he broke his leg at the age of 8, he started reading books that his father brought him from the local library.
  • Although the family had no money for his education, he studied on his own.
  • He became a student-teacher and earned some money to pay for his own education.
  • He spent a lot of time at the library where he started reading philosophy and literature.
  • He studied biology at Imperial College London and zoology at the University of London.
  • He worked as a teacher, and one of his students was A. A. Milne, the author of Winnie-the-Pooh.
  • He also worked as a journalist.
  • His first novel, The Time Machine was published in 1895.
  • He wrote several popular novels, some of which has been successfully adapted as films.
  • A crater on the dark side of the Moon is names after him.
  • H. G. Wells, along with Jules Verne are considered to be the inventors of the science fiction genre.
  • He died in London in 1946.

2 What do we need to know about the story?

This science fiction story was originally published as a magazine series in 1897. It tells the story of a scientist called Griffin, who invented a way to change his body in order to become invisible.

The setting

The story is set in the village of Iping in West Sussex, England.

The characters

The characters in The Invisible Man. Illustration by Paolo Masiero. © Helbling 2019

3 Why did we choose this title for adaptation?

It’s a great story, full of action with a great ending! But more than that, it is a profound reflection on what it is that makes us human and gives us our identity, a topic which is highly relevant today.

4 How can you use this reader for language learning? 

CLIL and discussion topics

Divide the class into groups and get each one to choose one discussion and research topic to explore.


  • Scientific experiments on the human body: moral questions
  • Optics: how does sight work
  • List phenomena in our world which are invisible.
  • Technology, robots
  • Luddites


  • Compare H. G. Well’s story with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein story.
  • The Invisibe Man in popular culture.


  • Is it possible to become invisible?
  • Surveillance and privacy

Watch out for our project lesson plans for more detailed activities based on these topics.

Language stuctures

  • Narrative tenses
  • Passive voice
  • First and second conditional
  • Relative pronouns

Vocabulary development

  • Job descriptions
  • Optics: describing light
  • Describing emotions
  • Verbs describing sounds we make

5 How did we create the reader?

The original text of the novel was simplified for elementary-level learners, avoiding complex grammar and sentence structures and minor plot strands that may lead to confusion. The vocabulary is only simplified as much as it is necessary to make it comprehensible for language learners at this stage.

The story was illustrated by Paolo Masiero.

Here is a simple chart about our reading levels.

Helbling Reader levels.

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