This is my own reaction to what Inga wrote in today’s comment. If you ask me if I am advocating abolishing stories as we currently know them and basing everything on reading, as per Inga’s idea expressed in the previous blog, my answer is possibly yes. And it is certainly something I am going to explore. Zipless TPRS. Fearless TPRS. TPRS Sans Stories. Whatever you call it, Inga’s idea is definitely funkadelic.
Calender alert. Wow. Imagine – TPRS without stories. Just readings. And the CI delivered from the readings only. Comfort zones vastly exanded for new people. Driving the discussion would be the readings and the other piece you brought in, Inga, the biographies, which kick ass.
I can see myself doing this next year. We start off reading on Monday, I get to spin, from what I know about a kid from their biography, back and forth from the reading into the biography. I have always loved to embellish readings with made up stuff about my kids. They told me today that they prefer readings based on stories way more than the novels. I am rethinking reading on a lot of levels right now.
This, then, eliminates the myth of TPRS stories in the wider teaching community. Gone is the absolute fear-inducing, cold sweat. excematic (inducing skin rashes) trepidation that we all have had and that I still have before starting a story with the three phrases. The fear of not being able to do a story – gone.
Reading as the base of CI delivery. But it would have to be reading as per Susie’s article. As in, pop-ups under four seconds as Susie has always said. And spinoff CI that is not too long either – like some of Jason’s stories in FF classes would last much longer than the original story or the reading, but then he had all day in those FF classes and he is Jason.
I like it. I like, especially:
1. eliminating story fear by eliminating the tyranny of the story
2. offering enough reading CI to elevate reading to its rightful place of pre-eminence as the best way to teach languages.
3. making personalization easy via the biographies. I swear, if there was one thing in TPRS that has been driving me nuts these past years. it has been my inability to bring more P into my lessons, because the stories were always there making me nervous so I couldn’t P so much. Like at football games.
4. eliminating the need to write five stories every night. (Today, I wrote a composite reading from all of yesterday’s stories. The content kind of flowed from one class into another. It held high interest, in part because the stories were easy enough re: common vocabulary, and also because my classes have become competitive about having the “best story”. But it took a long time to write because there was so much information.)
5. drawing readings from biographies. Trying to draw a kid into the story was weird. P, in a strange way, was kind of at odds with the story. Now, just using a reading about a kid as a springboard for discussion – what could be more natural and easy?
6. the trade off in time use. When M/W become reading days too, we have four, not two, days to read, with all auditory CI spinning naturally from the reading CI, greatly reducing story stress, as Inga mentions above. This point is fresh in my mind, because yesterday I sweated out a story (was it good enough?) and in today’s reading class I just chilled, with plenty of reading CI blended with some funny discussion about the kids and just the right amount of grammar pop-ups, which is to say very little.
My own version of biographies used to be Circling with Balls, but it was a purely auditory thing designed to build trust and CI skills and teach rules at the beginning of the year. Basically, it is the same as what Inga is saying, except that Inga suggests delivering it in written form throughout the year, pushing the entire personalization process away from PQA into reading. I would think that would work, except maybe, and we can talk about this, at the beginning of the year for beginners. I personally always want to keep my students “off the page” for the first months, to avoid accent mangling, which can be especially brutal in French.