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Secondary Language Teaching Using the TPRS Method

The TPRS Method or Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling is a unique way of teaching foreign language in a classroom setting. Secondary language teaching is never the same again after this methodology was introduced by Blaine Ray in 1990’s. A Spanish teacher himself, he designed an interactive strategy to keep his students’ interest and learn the language lessons faster than the traditional teaching. Teachers who have tried Spanish claimed students are able to reach fluency at a shorter period.

With TPRS, teachers are no longer spoon-feeding their students, instead, they are all performers in a storytelling, playacting, singing and reading workshops. The scenes simulate community immersion wherein students interact in a communication process of comprehension, talking and gesturing.

Foreign language classes using the TPRS method show a higher performance rating than the ones using the traditional method of input theory. This is because TPRS practice the following steps to take second-language retention to the next level:

  • 1. In the first step, the teacher introduces a set of new vocabulary structures using a combination of gestures and translations. Target vocabularies are written in visual aids, flashcards, or on the board. Comprehension is established by asking questions. The vocabulary set becomes the basis of the story that will be read or discussed in class.
  • 2. Those vocabulary structures are then used in a short story that develops as questions and answers are exchanged back and forth. By using the circling questioning method, familiarity with the word or phrase is done through repetitive questions circling around the target language. Students are encouraged to participate in the stories by dramatization or singing.
  • 3. The third step is class reading of the structures they have used for that particular session. The teacher will read from a book and the students will translate it in their first language. In turn, students also read a book having the now familiar set of vocabularies and discuss the story with the rest of the group. The teacher will assign home readings.

The teachers continue to learn new techniques by attending regular TPRS workshops they call “summer camp for second-language teachers” wherein they learn new techniques and get updates on how to improve their students’ learning abilities.

A second language is not hard to learn at all, although it may take some time. If you have the interest to understand and speak a foreign tongue, then nothing is impossible. With the TPRS method, you can achieve fluency in half the time.

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