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Stepping Stones To Stories


Of all the many books that Ben Slavic has written about language instruction based on comprehensible input, Ben ranks this book in the top few. Why? It is because Stepping Stones to Stories cuts through all the confusion about CI and makes things clear. The book is dedicated to teachers who are new to comprehension based instruction. It is also dedicated to all who have struggled with TPRS. Buckle up. Get ready to fly.

SKU: SSTSPDF Category:

United States

Ben Slavic

Stepping Stones to Stories is your finest work yet, in my opinion. I love the interactive quality of it, the passages where you share your exchanges with another teacher. Sharing ideas from other people strengthens the book and really demonstrates the communal nature of this thing, that we do not and can not work in isolation, that no one really can succeed without networking with others. Every word in the masterpiece is necessary. More than even the other books, this comes from the heart, with love and compassion for people who are trying to change in the face of some major obstacles. It gives me hope and courage as well as a badass bag of teaching tricks.

Anne Matava

Stepping Stones to Stories is in my opinion Ben’s best effort to make TPRS/CI clear. It is a simple book, and one that allows me to grasp the method in a simple and direct way. I just love this book!

Sarah Smith

I wanted to thank you for your book Stepping Stones to Stories. I read it twice in four days! I thank you for this fantastic opportunity to grow in our profession, and help students find real fluency and acquisition.

John Patterson


Ben’s System Of Starting The Year With Comprehensible Input

TPRS trainings used to focus on stories right out of the gate. People would attend a workshop and then try to start teaching in the fall using stories in their beginning level classes. It rarely worked. It was too much, too fast. Way too much, and way too fast.

It is the premise of this book that it is best to wait to start using stories with beginning students until the late fall or early winter, not before, using alternatives, the stepping stone strategies offered in this book, to start our year.

These stepping stones to stories are easier to learn than stories. In addition to preparing the teacher in the art of using comprehensible input, they also show the teacher how to set up:

  1. a strong and vibrant classroom management program.
  2. a personalized classroom
  3. an assessment program that works and saves time.

The caution to new teachers is that, without the classroom management, personalization and assessment pieces in place first, it is much more difficult to make comprehension based instruction work. In fact, it is nearly impossible.

Why is starting out a school year with stories a most difficult thing to pull off in foreign language classrooms? What opposes their use in secondary school classrooms in the United States? Here are some reasons:

  1. The entire system of storytelling is very hard to learn and most people give up on it within months of trying it.
  2. The vast majority of students don’t know how to interact with their teachers in class and must be trained.
  3. The data gathering and grading pieces required in schools are in conflict with the soul of comprehension based instruction. Students, parents and especially administrators who don’t understand storytelling can ruin careers.
  4. TPRS as a pedagogical term conveys an image of classroom chaos to huge amounts of teachers, due to something we might call “TPRS Confusion Syndrome”.
  5. Training is insufficient. It is folly to ask a teacher to attend a summer training in the area of comprehension based instruction and then go in and make the bucking bronco of comprehension based teaching work in their classroom in the fall.

Training wheels, what are really “stepping stones to stories”, are available here. The teacher who wants instruction in personalization is advised to read PQA in a Wink! Read TPRS in a Year! for training in actual story creation.

The purpose of this book is to help you get your year cranked up with good classroom discipline and personalization before you worry about stories later. You’ll be a lot better with stories having studied and practiced the ideas in this book first. This is the right place to start.

In Stepping Stones to Stories, you will discover how to:

  • Start your school year with simplified strategies that work.
  • Choose and implement the strategies that work best for you.
  • Teach using comprehensible input without using stories if you don’t want to.
  • Bring students into your classroom process without forcing them.
  • Teach for authentic language acquisition.
  • Align with 21st century standards and research.
  • Manage your classroom in ways that really work.
  • Establish an assessment program that works and saves time.
  • Learn skills like Staying in Bounds to make sure that each student understands.
  • Make comprehensible input the foundation of your success.
  • Establish trust in your classroom.

©BenSlavic. English.
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