Norm Veilleux

There is an excellent video of TPRS available online at It was taken by Sylvia Duckworth (AIM) of Norm Veilleux teaching a level one French class in Toronto. Here is the link: – password is TPRS
I recommend a close look. Here are some observations I would like to offer:
2:30 – notice the class buy in. The flow is great, simple one word responses by the kids in TL. Remember that if it is not a one word answer then it is not circling – this is circling. Norm is also not jumping around the room like some of us. He displays balance and could probably do this for hours. I love the sense of calm. The flow of comprehensible language in an interesting way, which is the key element in authentic acquisition – is there and very strong. It’s so simple. Norm just keeps asking questions, the vibe is that he will absolutely not deviate into English (expectations totally clear), the kids answer in flow, and it just rolls along.
6:30 – Norm stays in a moment of uncertainty there, refusing to rescue the situation. It resolves naturally. Calm teaching presence. This is all done without actors, and yet works just fine.
9:10 – output is there by a kid and it is just so effortless. Norm did not force that output. I really like that unforced output. The kids don’t feel pressured at all and seem, as per Krashen, unconscious of learning. They’re just involved and absorbing the language!
12:45 – he got a retell and kept expanding on it. The addition of a celebrity – Halle Barry – sparked things. A good example of how the introduction of celebrities always spikes interest in TPRS.  Norm keeps a nice clear orderly whiteboard that, I am sure, helps the kids a lot.
17:00 – wonderful use of “mes amis” througout the lesson to keep a nice bond with the kids. Retells to hands, as per Susan Gross.
Overall there is a wonderful flow of comprehensible input. We see in the first two minutes excellent use of circling and some point and pause. The result is massive repetition and a high degree of clarity in the minds of the kids. Great mood in the classroom – not theatrical, crazy, just a fun feeling of focus on the language. The kids are being bombarded with non stop comprehensible input and this is really what I think TPRS must look like in order to be effective. Norm doesn’t waste time on anything that isn’t CI.



5 thoughts on “Norm Veilleux”

  1. Thanks Martin. I was able to access it and it was great. He circles so effortlessly and is creative as he uses strucures like point of view, direct and indirect obj. pronouns in the circling–always meaning based. At about 17 minutes, the retelling to the hand point, it clicks off and I can’t get it past that point. I am going to try to internalize what he does and try to do a better job! Chris.

  2. Wow. I have almost no clue what is being said in this video, but it is inspiring. Norm, your circling amazing! My favorite part is around 12:00 minutes: Norm: Non; Students: Oui! The student response is so emphatic; the students are so clearly engaged in whatever you are telling them. :o) Thank you for sharing!

  3. Thanks for the comments guys. It helps me see my own teaching from a different POV. Some things that I wasn’t aware of but can build on.
    A few clarifications. This was filmed by a student, not Sylvia from AIM. She observed another class and I gave her this DVD to look at. She posted it at vimeo. This is not a first year class. This is a class of 36 grade 10 students. We are an inner city school, but the students are fine, and are from a very diverse background, culturally, linguistically, socially… Their French experience varies from 6 years (about 700 hours of instruction) to 1 year (120 hours). They all chose to take this course, it’s not mandatory. I think this might give a bit of perspective as far as the level of language being used and the speed of my French.
    The video does finish at about 17 min. you can’t go any further.
    I think there was a bit more pointing than can be seen. I had a laser pointer and was shooting from my hip. You can’t always pick that up. A crucial skill to get the slower kids to comprehend.
    I don’t think there is a finger check for comprehension on the clip, but I did do one that day and I remember getting 4s and 5s out of 5.
    I wouldn’t say it was a homerun story, but I think it was a very good French class. Things turned out pretty well that day. I got done what I wanted, RICH input (Repetitive, Interesting, Comprehensible, Heartfelt input). I would be thrilled if I could do something like this everyday, but it is not the case. Oh well.

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