Why TPRS?

I just read the Autonoblogger’s note about why TPRS fit him/her.

He asked, “What brought you to TPRS?” Here’s my story. I want to hear yours!

I had a workshop with Blaine Ray years ago, and a more recent one around 2000 with Melinda Forward, but never did more than create about a unit per year for my kids. I was having the same problems as the Japanese blogger mentioned. Lots of work, not much payoff for most kids. Then at the end of the year in June 2008, one third-year student pointed out that those “TPRS story units” were where kids got the Russian they used for the rest of their careers with me.

I realized she was right, went to the Internet, and found Ben Slavic’s materials and realized that TPRS had changed completely from set materials to story-asking and a clear emphasis on Comprehensible Input. Then I attended a Corinne Bourne workshop. Corinne came to Alaska for our state conference, and ever since then a core group of interested teachers here has been meeting monthly. We have had visits from Susie Gross, Blaine Ray, Laurie Clark, Katya Paukova, Terry Thatcher Waltz, Scott Benedict, and Ben Slavic (whether virtual–on Skype–or real). I finally know a great way to get kids to truly learn Russian.

I sometimes have to pretend that I’m amazed by how fast the kids learn. I remember again when parents are surprised after visiting a class, especially if they “learned Russian in college,” because the kids are so much farther ahead than they might otherwise be.

I am both better and worse at TPRS every day. I learn when I read what others write, and I learn when I teach or when I coach. There is no end to honing my skills in this method.

TPRS for me is more than a method; t’s a philosophy, a better way to live and connect with other people. The teachers who “join up” seem to be people who want to share and learn from one another. They are generous, thoughtful, and creative. It is easy to become friends in this community because there is an openness and common goal that isn’t linked to the level of students or the language being taught. I have never found this feeling in any other methodology, so even if TPRS were just partly successful, I am sure I would stick around for the collegiality of the group. Luckily, TPRS is indeed successful.

Any TPRS folks visiting Alaska from (what we call) Outside, please feel free to let us know. We can put you up, and we can set you up with observations!

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One response to “Why TPRS?

  1. Witnessing a crazy story about a whale swimming to Japan being told by your class was what sold me! I had no idea what I was watching, but you sent me away with a set of NTPRS DVDs, and I began TPRSing after a weekend NTPRS DVD marathon. My students’ success and the awesome community is what has kept me in TPRS. Thanks for being an awesome ambassador for the philosophy, Michele!!

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