Here are some notes from the video I’m finishing of Laurie’s beginning TPRS class from last fall (I was hoping for the first part of the top ten structures lecture, but I don’t seem to have that). It is curious how much one can learn from every beginning presentation. Just as when we’re in a language class, there are different levels to watch. Watching how Laurie made herself the co-star at first, whispering acting suggestions to one of our biggest hams, and how she changed her voice timbre and joined in the laughter–all these are important pieces that I got from her teaching the phrase “to clean.” Watching her reminds me why any chance to observe other teachers is so helpful.
Other ideas from Laurie that help remind me of the basics:
Three parts to learning: listen, understand, respond.
Therefore, on a listening test, students who write down something that is recognizable get points just for that piece, even if they don’t understand or respond to it.
Laurie showed the pyramid of traditional teaching: it has a bunch of kids in first year, some of whom learn everything we try to teach the first year–lots of vocabulary, tense, pronunciation…and then we pile a smaller line on top of that with fewer kids, and so on the next year.
TPRS starts instead with one solid structure; high-frequency and continues by using that and interacting with the kids. Then we read with that piece of language. Doing the work this way inverts the traditional pyramid. By teaching small structures and building stories and reading on top of those structures every day, we can have 180 inverted pyramids after a year of school; we have a lot of other vocabulary and structures to connect those phrases.
Fluency is being able to communicate using the words you have, and by using TPRS, we assure that kids really have the words we’ve presented.
Introduce structurally-embedded vocabulary. Then interact: tell stories, and finally, integrate literacy at an appropriate level.
Use invisible props if need be–develops creativity. Sometimes can have real props, especially if the students will then connect emotionally with the props.
Use “fireworks” or other special applause, and teach kids to accept applause in one of three waves–with a regal nod, an “I’m so wonderful” wave, or a dignified bow.
Structurally-embedded vocabulary means using the target phrase in different contexts.
Dealing with discipline is easiest if we honor our students and use what we learn about them to include them in the conversation from the beginning and let them know right away what is appropriate.
The only way to achieve acquisition is to provide comprehensible input.
To help the slower processors, ask kids to answer only with a signal so that everyone will have a chance to think and answer together.
Then ask the faster processor a complex question.
If all you do is talk all day, every day, about what the kids are doing, what they’re wearing, where they’re going, what they’re watching, they will learn all the language that they need.
Instead of running through an entire forest (book/language/vocabulary) at a time, visit 1/4 of it slowly, and the kids will be able to revisit those places because they will remember them.
If you have a hard time coming up with a story for a particular structure, ask someone else in the community.
Always use target vocabulary in phrases–trying to usually use verbs. It doesn’t matter how grammatically complex the phrases are. Students’ brains don’t know that something is complicated. Take structures that students already know and add words. Use structures that the kids would use. If they don’t typically travel, don’t use “baggage claim.” Just don’t use nouns by themselves.
1. Watch me.
2. Follow me.
3. Respond in a way that enhances acquisition.