WHAT IS TPRS?

Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling

What is TPRS®?

TPRS® is a living foreign language teaching method that stands for Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling.  It began as a teaching strategy created by a Spanish teacher, Blaine Ray in the late 1980’s. Through the years, thousands of teachers have contributed to the evolution of TPRS® It is based on the idea that the brain needs an enormous amount of Comprehensible Input in the language.  TPRS® focuses on the use of the most commonly-used words and phrases and use them in stories, conversations and other activities so that everything that is talked about in the language is understood by the students.

TPRS® is influenced by the work of Dr. James Asher and Dr. Stephen Krashen.  TPRS® combines Dr. Asher's Total Physical Response (TPR) with Dr. Krashen's language acquisition strategies, allowing teachers to focus on using the target language providing amble exposure to concentrated, comprehensible input. The by-product of telling stories and providing this type of input is that students build proficiency and fluency with the abilities to use the language.

The main goal in classrooms is to utilize comprehensible input in order to help our students become proficient in understanding, reading, writing, and eventually speaking their new language. In TPRS®, the main factor in the development of proficiency is contextualized, repetitive, and varied comprehensible input that keeps learner’s interest. Very often it is said that students are the curriculum.

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

Students write retells and original stories from outlines, templates, songs or partially-written stories.  This may be a class, group, pair or individual activity.

Video Viewing

Classes watch several video clips, that give an opportunity for providing storytelling and repetition of aural input. These videos can be culturally based or relevant to the students or goals of the program.

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 and 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.” We are always seeking better results in student learning and proficiency as it pertains to classroom teaching.

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