Last night I played a new board game (actually a card game) that is absolutely ideal for Comprehensible Input in any language: it is quick, fun, easy-to-learn, and requires only a few repetitive sentences to play. The sentences are of this type: "I have two elder scrolls", "I have the Cthulhu", "I don't have anything", "What do you have?" More advanced language speakers might ask "What did you say?" or proclaim "She is not a detective, she's a cultist!" Is your interest piqued? Then read on!Read More
Storytelling... an age-old, beloved, natural activity. Second language learning... usually not so beloved, or natural. But, STORYTELLING can make acquiring a second language fun, natural…..and successful.
Let’s face it, most (U.S.) Americans don’t communicate well in their second language, even just one year out of high school. As an experienced homeschool parent and language teacher, I’ve tried many curricula. But nothing worked really well, until last year, when I implemented a method known as TPRS, “Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling”. For the first time, my students experienced leaps in comprehension, speaking, language retention and enjoyment. TPRS is a powerful language tool, qualitatively different from most programs out there, but it is not on the radar of most homeschool families. So here at this website I've compiled everything I wish I'd known about TPRS when my kids were learning a foreign language. Explore, deliberate and judge for yourselves if TPRS is a good fit for your family…..
What defines a successful homeschool foreign language class?
1. The students learn to communicate in that language - listen, read, write and speak.
2. The students are able to continue to learn that language after the class is over.
3. The students grow a little bit as people during the class.
4. The teacher grows a little bit as a person during the class.
5. The teacher enjoys a reasonable amount of prep time - hours that are possibly less than, and certainly no more than the length of the class itself.
And the first of 4 easy steps to that class - Step 1: Choose storytelling.Read More
Step 2: Find captivating video-based homework activities, and some TPRS novels.
Homeschool foreign language teachers are absolutely blessed because our classes are usually made up of a small number of motivated students. The one great difficulty when teaching a homeschool language class (or an adult continuing ed class, for that matter) is that the class probably only meets once a week for about 2 hours. It’s hard to learn a language if you only use it once a week. So entice your students into the language between classes, with captivating homework......Read More
Step 3: Cook, play and live life in class.
This step is easy to understand and easy to explain! What could be more compelling than food to a hungry student? As homeschoolers, you may well be meeting in a home and have the option to cook in a kitchen, or use a blender or hot plate! We always have a snack break in class, and this provides lots of opportunities for compelling, comprehensible, repetitive input. As do games.....Read More
Step 4: Use NYS Regents Assessment for your final exam.
The same summer I discovered TPRS, I also discovered New York State Regents exams! Actually, I’d taken them myself as a NY student, but I didn’t realize that past years’ exams are available online. Use them - they are objective, and save you soooo much time. One great advantage is they don’t test grammar or vocabulary directly, just fluency - listening comprehension, ability to converse spontaneously, reading and writing....Read More
Overview and Plank 1
If you are absolutely new to TPRS, you can learn the basics - enough to get started - in a day or a weekend. (I’ve even read of some teachers who took a 3-hour seminar, and dove in just on that - depends on your personality and skill set, I guess!) Below, I’ve listed 5 'planks' on the bridge to becoming a TPRS teacher and gathered resources for each step.
Plank 1: Get a feel for TPRS....Read More
Plank 2: Understand the basics. TPRS follows 3 steps and requires about 5 simple foundational skills to make a class successful. You will learn about them in Plank 3. Here you can read or watch a short general description of TPRS from any one of several experienced TPRS teachers. Pick a link or two from the list below and develop your own “elevator” explanation of TPRS...Read More
Plank 3: Get some training: If you can, attend a workshop. If not, watch a video series and/or read a book about the specific procedures. TPRS is not hard, but there are a few principles and techniques - inviting students into the process, circling, slowing down, pointing, teaching to the eyes - that you want to absorb before you jump in....Read More
Plank 4: Choose a curriculum, or decide to adapt a curriculum you may already have, to the TPRS/CI method. A lesson in a TPRS textbook or curriculum generally looks like this: - a list of about 3 structures that will be used in the story - a flexible outline for a story to story-ask in class - a couple of short readings which use the three structures.
You have four types of class curriculum to choose from......Read More
Plank 5: Hone Your Skills. Every so often, watch or read a little bit more. Add another idea or trick to your repertoire. TPRS/CI teachers are very generous on the web about sharing their experiences, and there are many, many helpful websites and books where you can find a new CI technique or TPRS idea...Read More
You may already know of a teacher who is ready to jump in and teach your students a foreign language using the TPRS storytelling/Comprehensible Input method. Maybe the teacher is you! However, if you haven't found a teacher for your students yet, here are some ideas to explore.Read More
Looking for songs, posters, projects, authentic resources, etc.? START HERE!
This short list of links is a miscellaneous gathering of some of the most helpful and practical tools and materials I’ve stumbled on in the hours spent wading through all the TPRS/CI info on the net.
For those of us who like tables, I’ve compared 5 of the complete TPRS curricula in a Table to read and download. I looked at the Spanish versions of each curriculum. Remember that Ray’s curriculum is also available in French and German. Gaab’s curriculum is available in French, German, English and Japanese. Hommel’s curriculum will soon be available in Italian, and down the road, in French. Bex’ and Ramirez’ curricula are only available in Spanish. For Mandarin, refer to Terry Waltz’ website, terrywaltz.com. For Latin, start with magister.com for some TPRS stories, and also johnpiazza.net. Both tprsbooks.com and fluencymatters.com offers novels in many languages.Read More
Remember my five requirements for a successful homeschool foreign language class - student learns the language, student is motivated and able to continue learning after the class ends, student grows as a person, teacher grows as a person, teacher doesn't drown from lesson prep overload? This article is only about Requirement #1 and how it relates to the storytelling teaching method - does the student learn the language better with TPRS or with another teaching method? WHAT DOES THE DATA SAY?Read More
Computers allow us to count words fast, and that means people have figured out the most frequently used words in Spanish and 50 other languages. Guess what? The most frequently used Spanish words do not line up with the most frequently taught Spanish words in most Spanish classes. And the same applies to other languages......Read More
Have you ever heard anyone say “Well, I took Spanish for three years in high school, but all I can really say is “No hablo español? Or “Yeah, I took two years of French, but I can’t even order a crêpe?” This is a short description of TPRS, written the summer I discovered it, and revised after I had implemented it in my classroom. for a year. For me, TPRS worked even better than expected!Read More