Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling


Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling

Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling , formerly known as Total Physical Response Storytelling, or TPRS for short, is a method for teaching any world language, including Spanish and French. Blaine Ray created this method by combining James Asher's Total Physical Response system with personalized, often funny stories to help students apply the words learned. These stories are complemented with reading from a variety of sources. Blaine Ray is a Spanish teacher whose philosophy is that "Learning is a function of repetition."

TPRS is a movement towards building language proficiency in the use of grammatical structures through reading stories in addition to the oral storytelling for which TPRS is well-known. Originally incorporating seven basic steps, TPRS, according to Ray, has three main steps to the process:

STEP 1: Establish Meaning. This is done primarily by the presentation of target language vocabulary structures (generally no more than 3 in one lesson) and their equivalents in the students' native language. Gestures can also be taught and practiced with the new vocabulary to help students remember vocabulary words. Gestures were once considered integral to step 1 but are now considered optional.
STEP 2: Ask (not tell) a story. Using a general outline of a story, the instructor asks students to provide specific details. This allows students to make it their own. At the same time a circling technique of asking questions, and repeating phrases results in multiple repetitions of the target structures. Advanced TPRS teachers are sometimes able to "wing it," creating stories by asking questions of the students based on the vocabulary structures of that day's lesson.
STEP 3: Read and discuss the story, or a different story which contains the grammar structures from STEP 2, but with different details.This reading is often done by having one or all of the students translate the reading out loud in order to ensure that students have complete comprehension of the reading material. Grammar points contained in the reading may be briefly discussed with very short explanations - often 5 seconds or less. The discussion of the reading is carried out in the target language, with the teacher asking questions both about the reading itself and also about the students and their lives.

TPRS is based on the importance of comprehensible input as the key factor in developing fluency in the target language and is supported by Dr. Stephen Krashen's research. Another very important element of TPRS is personalization. Using the language as a means to get to know students and to get them interested in the message is an effective way of delivering input that is both comprehensible and interesting. Personalization can be accomplished by asking students simple questions about their lives in the target language and also by the inclusion of celebrities known to the students. It is very important in TPRS to make students look good in the stories and discussions (or at least not bad), but it is considered good form to make celebrities look bad in comparison to the students.

Blaine Ray started a second company teaching adults languages through TPRS in 2004 following a successful study at Middle Tennessee State University. Fluency Fast Language Classes, Inc. is a company which offers language immersion classes using the TPRS method. 4 day language immersion classes are available nationwide in Spanish, French, German, Russian, Mandarin Chinese and Arabic. The company is now owned by Karen Rowan, a TPRS teacher from Colorado.

Blaine Ray has also written multiple series of books with numerous co-authors. These books include explanations of the methodology of TPRS, books of suggested lesson plans for use with the TPRS method, and a series of target language readers beginning with Poor Ana. These readers have been translated into multiple languages and include appropriate cultural references for each target language.

In 1999, a group of Michigan teachers including Michael Kundrat, Kristy Placido, Kathleen Bulger, and Sue Steele were the first members of an online community for TPRS teachers. The group is called moreTPRS and is housed at yahoogroups under the name moreTPRS. The list has grown to over 5000 members worldwide and has been credited with the organic and dynamic nature of TPRS as a teaching method.

In 2008, another forum was established for TPRS at www.tprs.net.

External links

* [http://www.readthewriter.com/moretprs.html link to original moreTPRS Yahoo Group]
* [http://www.TPRS.net a TPRS discussion group]
* [http://www.fluencyfast.com fluencyfast.com]
* [http://www.tprstorytelling.com TPRS Publishing]
* [http://www.blaineraytprs.com Blaine Ray]
* [http://www.susangrosstprs.com Susan Gross]
* [http://www.comprehensibleinput.com Jason Fritze]
* [http://www.teachforjune.com Scott Benedict]
* [http://www.sdkrashen.com Dr. Stephen Krashen]
* [http://www.sabineundmichael.com Michael Miller]
* [http://www.benslavic.com Ben Slavic]


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