What is TPRS?

TPRS is changing the way many teachers go about teaching a foreign language today. Through TPRS teachers are finding they can teach the language holistically without having to teach grammar rules. Grammatical accuracy is taught but not in the traditional way through verb conjugations. Language is learned by understanding messages in the target language. That means language is picked up through comprehensible input. Input is listening and reading that is understood by the learner. We ensure the class is totally comprehensible. Also it must be repetitive and interesting. We teach the class an interesting story that is invented as the teacher asks students repetitive questions.

Before teaching a story or even saying a sentence in the target language we need to establish meaning. We do that by translation or gesture. We mainly use translation since most gestures can have multiple interpretations and therefore the meaning isn’t clear. With translation, the students understand the meaning of the words being taught. Whenever we use a phrase or words students don’t understand, we have to establish meaning again usually by translating on the board.

Now students are ready for storytelling. Here we use the three phrases that are on the board to ask a story. We start out with a problem. A boy/girl needs or wants something. We start asking questions using the phrases. If the phrase is wants to have, we will start asking questions using wants to have. Does the boy want to have an elephant? (Students respond yes or no. The teacher says that is right, the boy wants to have an elephant.) Now the detail has been established. Does the boy want to have an elephant or a gorilla? Does the boy want to have a gorilla? Does the boy want to have an elephant? Who wants to have an elephant? What does the boy want to have? Does the boy want to have an elephant? With this last question we have completed the circle. That is we are back to where we started. This powerful circling technique is used in TPRS to get lots of repetitions. It makes the class interesting because the teacher can answer each question differently. The story develops as the teacher continues to ask more questions. Each new detail adds new interest to the developing story.

A story has 3 locations. Start at the first location and establish a problem. From add another character and other details. If the boy wants a tiger, you can ask for details about the tiger. Where is the tiger from? Is he big or little? What does the tiger do? Does the boy want a tiger from Kenya or Chile ? Does the boy want a small plastic tiger or a big yellow tiger? You could also have a girl who wants a small plastic gorilla from Tokyo . In your questions to the class you would compare the boy to the girl. Who wants a gorilla? What does the girl want? What does the boy want? Who wants a tiger? All of these questions establish details about the story. After you have established many details of the story you will then go to location two. There you will attempt to solve the problem but fail. Finally the story will move to the third location where the story is solved.

Next you will have your students translate and discuss the extended reading of the story. You will now continue going back and forth between storytelling and reading. These stories are found in Mini-Stories for Look, I Can Talk from our catalogue. There is also a Teacher’s Guide for Mini-stories for Look, I Can Talk available from our catalogue. You also can get level two materials. Order Mini-stories for Look, I Can Talk More and the accompanying teacher’s guide from our catalogue. After students have learned all of the mini-stories they will be ready for a chapter in the books Look, I Can Talk and Mini-stories for Look, I Can Talk. In level three there is now a new book that includes the PMS, mini-stories, extended readings and the chapter story all in one new book from our catalogue.

For supplemental reading there are level one and level two novels from our catalogue. These books are available in Spanish, French, English, Chinese, Italian and German.

For more information you can order the book "Fluency through TPR Storytelling." This book has been out since 1997 and is now in its seventh edition. If you can't make it to a TPRS workshop, this book is the next best thing. The book will show you how to do TPRS at each level. You will learn tricks on making your class interesting as well as how to teach accuracy to your students. This is a great starter book and it is available from our catalogue.
We also have Videos and DVDs that show actual TPRS classrooms. Watch experienced teachers masterfully teach their classes with TPRS.

The only thing I remember from my junior high Spanish class is the songs. That doesn't happen with TPRS, but songs are still a great addition to our program. My colleague, Gale Mackey, has written songs that go along with the stories in book one and book two. These songs are available only in Spanish but are a great addition to any TPRS teacher. Your students will want to sing more after learning these songs. There is also a tape of irregular Spanish verbs. After your students have sung these songs a few times they will know the major irregular verbs in all the tenses of Spanish. Tapes and CDs can be ordered from our catalogue.

Contact Information

Blaine Ray Workshops
8411 Nairn Drive
Eagle Mountain, UT  84005
Phone: 888-373-1920
Fax: 888 RAY TPRS (729-8777)

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