About TPRS (TPR Storytelling)
In TPR Storytelling (TPRS), we don’t force students to learn languages. Instead, students learn because what they are learning is meaningful and interesting to them. When students hear language that is meaningful and personally important to them, they pay attention in class and they enjoy the experience of learning the language.
Widely known as TPRS, the method was invented by Blaine Ray. There are as many ways to practice TPRS as there are teachers, but the one constant in the method is that it engages and immerses students in the target language. The results are astounding.
TPRS requires work on the part of the teacher. It requires an emotional as well as an intellectual commitment. Breaking old habits is never easy. It takes courage. Yet the rewards for those who make the effort are considerable. Teaching well with TPRS makes teaching the rewarding experience it is meant to be.
TPRS brings a sense of play into the classroom. Chris Mercogliano, writing in “Paths of Learning” (Issue #17, p. 12, 2004), states that there is considerable evidence for “a classical link between education and play.” He points out that the ancient Greek words for education/culture (paideia), play (paidia), and children (paides) all have the same root.
Chris asks us to consider the following remarkable conversation in Plato’s Republic between Socrates and Plato’s brother, Glaucon:
“Well, then,” Socrates begins, “the study of calculation and geometry, and all the preparatory education required for dialectic, must be put before them as children and the instruction must not be given the aspect of a compulsion to learn.”
“Why not?” asks Glaucon.
“Because the free man ought not to learn any study slavishly. Forced labors performed by the body don’t make the body any worse, but no forced study abides in the soul.”
“Therefore, you best of men, don’t use force in training the children in the subjects, but rather play. In that way can you better discern toward what each is naturally directed.”
Some teachers don’t see themselves as playful. Yet TPRS is so strong and supple that it easily accommodates individual teacher preferences. It can be adapted to anyone and anything, even the textbook. The waters of TPRS are so deep that individuals will always “land the fish” they want. When applied to traditional methods, TPRS always strengthens them.