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Philosophy behind the TPRS Teaching Technique and Its Success

TPRS or Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling (also formerly known as Total Physical Response Storytelling) is a method of teaching world languages. It was developed by Blaine Ray in the 1990's, and since then, became one of the most popular language classes for teachers.

According to most language teachers, they get to interact with their students better and get great results because of the TPRS method. When Blaine Ray developed the TPRS method, his philosophy is that, "Learning is a function of repetition". Although once tagged as an unconventional and highly effective methodology, TPRS is now being regarded to be mainstream when it comes to Language Workshops.

A lot of factors contribute to the success of the TPRS method. One important element is personalization. To ensure an interesting and a comprehensible way of delivering input, teachers must use the language as a means to get their students' interest in the message. This could be accomplished by asking students simple questions about their lives using the target language. Remember, the TPRS method is built to make sure that the students of your language school are enjoying themselves.

In teaching language classes, it is important that you first establish meaning. We do that by gesture or translation. In TPRS, it is important to use translation more as gestures can have different interpretations, thus the message may not be clear. By using translations, students understand the meaning of the words being taught. In cases where students don't understand a phrase or words which we used, we have to verify the meaning again by translating on the board.

Other than language skills, TPRS also offers brain-friendly benefits. Teachers could meet the needs of various learning styles through TPRS' multi-sensory methodology. The following are just a few examples:

  • Gestures and Acting - Kinesthetic learners
  • Visual Images such as illustrations, puppets, live actors, and props - Visual learners

Over the years, TPRS gained a lot of supporters, however, there were also some skeptical colleagues and administrators, and they were all in search of a hard evidence to believe that TPRS method works. Fortunately, a group of teachers pursuing master and doctoral degrees produced their first research on TPRS. While it is a fact that each study may have its own limitations, the basis is clear. Majority of the research to date established that TPRS students outperform traditional students when it comes to some measures of language skills.



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