1. What is TPRS®?
TPRS® stands for Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling. It began as a teaching strategy created by several teachers who wanted a more effective way to teach languages. Over the last decade, it has been developed through research and practice by thousands of dedicated teachers world-wide. It is based on the idea that the brain needs an enormous amount of “comprehensible input” in the language. We choose the most commonly used words and phrases and use them in stories, conversations and other activities so that everything we talk about in the language is understood by the students.
2. What does a TPRS® class “look” like?
It sounds like a lot of Spanish!! Some typical activities are:
• Storytelling. The teacher starts with the outline of a story and asks the class many questions that 1) ensure that the class understands the language and 2) add personalized, interesting (and sometimes very funny!) details to the story.
• Story writing. Students will write original stories from outlines, templates, songs or partially written stories. This may be a class, group, pair or individual activity.
• Reading. We 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.
• Songs. The students will be learning between 10 and 15 new songs in Spanish this year.
• Games. We have a number of games based on comprehensible input that help students to acquire language and create strong, positive relationships within the classroom environment.
• Projects. There are opportunities each marking period for students to use art and technology to learn and share information about language and culture.
• Movies. There are always activities in Spanish related to a movie.
3. How are students evaluated?
• Quizzes The students may be required to demonstrate their ability to read, speak, write, or listen in Spanish. They may also be required to identify vocabulary and phrases or explain cultural/historical information.
• “Can Do” Statements: These “progress indicators” provide a way for learners and teachers to set goals, select strategies, self-assess, provide evidence, and reflect before moving on. Classroom activities are linked with benchmark objectives, state and national standards, and proficiency outcomes (not grade level) for life long learning. The focus is on performance and understanding of multiple perspectives and cultures.
• Paperwork is collected on a regular basis. It may take the form of translation, answering questions, illustrations, flash cards or story writing. Any assignments completed in class or for homework may be collected, graded and recorded. Typical “homework” will be to read aloud to someone, illustrate or translate a story, or practice drills to memorize daily vocabulary and phrases. Home practice leads to success.
• Projects are assigned several times a marking period. Students may be designing posters, presentations, books, brochures, videos or any number of pieces using the language!!
4. How can parents help?
Any time you show interest in and support for your child’s school work, you help. Practice book pages and handouts that are initialed and dated by a parent provide evidence of help. Ask your child to share the stories that we have done in class or to teach someone in the family a song. PLEASE, encourage your child to tell the teacher whenever there is confusion or stress about the class or the work. This helps everybody!