Illogical Stories Are Just Fine

I have heard people criticize TPRS for the insanity, the outlandishness, of some of the stories. In my opinion, they miss the point.
The fact is that we are just trying to attract and keep the students’ interest. Anything that does that, usually kind of crazy stuff, will address the real task at hand, which is immersion in L2.
Our students can acquire a language only when they hear it in uninterrupted form by English in ways that are interesting to them. That is Krashen’s CI. We can’t go back and forth from English to L2 using various activities and exercises and expect any results. Years of doing that have proven that such activities and exercises don’t work at all, and everybody is tired of it.
The new is here. It is the PROCESS of the flow of the uninterrupted correctly spoken language (read: grammar) alone that just bathes the brain in the language and then it is FREE TO ORGANIZE IT IN ITS OWN MIRACULOUS WAY, free of the English interruptions, free from wondering what language it is supposed to be in the process of decoding (“What language am I processing here???”).
Granted, too much silliness can become boring (Bryce made that point here last week), and it is true that using TPRS to teach non-fiction is a powerful thing, and Bryce’s point that we can mix the two is probably the best approach.
The goal is not content, but the UNINTERRUPTED FLOW OF LANGUAGE. As long as it’s interesting. Crazy or not. Texts written directly to teens, story scripts and the like (Anne Matava), texts written BY teens, as Michele has shown us lately, cannot fail.



1 thought on “Illogical Stories Are Just Fine”

  1. Sometimes I will have students who reject the silliness and I conform somewhat but if we do that too much we are perpetuating an anti-creativity expectation. I don’t think it’s bad to use real life situations, especially to teach some cultural aspect. What I do at the beginning of each new term with each class is talk about how I came to really know some French and it seems to help some of those linear minds and reinforce those already malleable minds. (Ok, I guess all minds should be malleable.) I tell them that I generally I attend conferences every year and that during each conference there are X amount of hours of a language class. In 2002 I had a day with Susie in French and by that night I was able to retell a story to a cab driver from Senegal who couldn’t believe I had just begun with French earlier that day. I didn’t really have French again until Fluency Fast in 2005, Kansas City. This was a week of great instruction with Susie and Jason. I then tell my students that I didn’t really try to speak French after that until Denver 2007. I was at a restaurant in the hotel where there was a family speaking French. I noticed the mother was left alone at one point. The waitress had trouble communicating with her. I began to speak and understand French that morning. We did not speak for very long but we were both understood and that made a difference. So, after two non-French years, I was able to pull out what I needed to have a conversation. Since then I have made a little more effort to keep up with French. But this is just one of the 79,854.2 testimonies as to why the method works. Had some of those stories in 2005 not evoked an emotion in me, that lady may not have got what she wanted for breakfast that day.

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