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What is TPRS?

Teaching Proficiency Through Reading And Storytelling

WHAT IS TPRS®?

TPRS® or Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling® was created by Blaine Ray, a Spanish teacher, in the late 1980s. It is a language teaching method based on the idea that the brain needs enormous amounts of Comprehensible Input (CI) to acquire a new language. In addition, teachers and students interact and create opportunities for students to speak and try out their new language, resulting in rapid gains in fluency. In fact, recently some TPRS online classes have students reaching the intermediate-mid level in just 60-100 hours where typically this takes 400-600 hours. TPRS focuses on using interactive, co-created oral stories, readings and novels that contain the most commonly-used words and phrases in Spanish, French, German, or other foreign languages to help students get familiar with a new language easily and quickly.

When developing TPRS®, Ray was influenced by the work of Dr. Stephen Krashen and Dr. James Asher. Ray began by combining Dr. Asher’s teaching method called Total Physical Response and Dr. Krashen’s CI-based language acquisition strategies. The result was a teaching method that focuses on the importance of teacher-student interaction, the use of CI and stories to keep the learner’s interest to become fluent in a new language.

Although it was first developed by Ray, TPRS® has evolved through the years, thanks to thousands of educators who contributed to improving this language teaching method. Here at TPRS Books, we’re committed to continuing the work of these educators by providing workshops and resources to more teachers across the globe who want to learn TPRS® and share the gift of language to their students. We travel across the globe for our teachers’ language workshops. Each event is filled with training sessions and presentations from our talented team of instructors.

WHAT DOES A TPRS® CLASS “LOOK” LIKE?

It sounds like a lot of language!!

The teacher starts with the outline of a story and asks the class large numbers of questions that a) ensure that the class understands the language and b) add personalized, interesting, and comprehensible details to the story.

Classes read stories created in class, stories created by other classes, summaries and stories written by the teacher, stories written by individual students, ads and articles from magazines/newspapers, children’s books and short novels written for TPRS® classrooms.

STORY TELLING

The teacher starts with the outline of a story and asks the class large numbers of questions that a) ensure that the class understands the language and b) add personalized, interesting, and comprehensible details to the story.

READING

Classes read stories created in class, stories created by other classes, summaries and stories written by the teacher, stories written by individual students, ads and articles from magazines/newspapers, children’s books and short novels written for TPRS® classrooms.

STORY WRITING

The teacher starts with the outline of a story and asks the class large numbers of questions that a) ensure that the class understands the language and b) add personalized, interesting, and comprehensible details to the story.

VIDEO VIEWING

Classes read stories created in class, stories created by other classes, summaries and stories written by the teacher, stories written by individual students, ads and articles from magazines/newspapers, children’s books and short novels written for TPRS® classrooms.

WHAT ARE THE MAIN COMPONENTS OF TPRS?

There are various strategies that make up the essence of Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling. The first main 3 parts are located to the right while other strategies in Read and Discuss include:

- Relate the situation, characters, and plot to students.
- Ask if they have ever been in such a situation.
- Capitalize on the cultural information in the story.
- Use the story to teach life lessons.
- Act out a scene from a novel.
- Discuss character development, choices and values.
ESTABLISH MEANING
First, the instructor “Establishes meaning.” This involves the introduction of the story via translation, TPR, or even gestures in a variety of ways. In this area there is a conscientious limitation of the input, specifically the grammatical features and the vocabulary.
ASK A STORY
The second part of the lesson is called “Ask a story.” In asking a story, students are involved in the creation and interaction of the story. Students are able to provide part of the language being used while the instructor maintains control of the content.
READ & DISCUSS
Another aspect essential to the TPRS® method, “Read and Discuss.” In this step students read and translate the story, mostly language that is based on oral storytelling activities. The purpose of translating is to make sure that students understand each paragraph. This translation is also implemented to explain grammar so that grammar is tied to meaning, not tied to a grammar rule.

WHAT IS ESSENTIAL TO KNOW ABOUT TPRS®?

In TPRS®, acquisition of the target language is anchored in stories that students hear, read, write, tell, and retell in class with the guidance of the teacher. There is tremendous focus on first comprehending a story and building confidence with it before actually writing or telling it, the approach puts input at the core of the curriculum. And because of active student involvement with the input, this method follows basic ideas about the role of input in acquisition and learner engagement with the input. There are many layers and aspects to TPRS®. It is a living method that is constantly changing. It will continue to evolve and change as we are led by the results of student learning.

In TPRS®, there are no “experts,” simply teacher language trainees who build a better relationship with students by personalizing stories. Every story is delightfully bizarre (to hold the interest of our students) and personalized (so that our stories speak to the students).

We are always seeking better results in student learning and proficiency as it pertains to classroom teaching. We base our assessments of the teacher how thoroughly the students have internalized the language.

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