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7 thoughts on “Question”

  1. Two comments emerge as I read this interchange from Robert (and, Robert, wow, Maximas gratias).

    1) TPRS works with all kinds of learners, regardless of how large the room is. That’s my experience and one of my main motivators to work with it. No other way of working has tapped every kind of learner in my room.

    2) It’s not necessarily true that all the students in the room and the teacher share the same L1. In each of my classes about 1/3 have a first language other than English. For the last 3 years, I’ve had at least one student who barely spoke English. Those students have been keen in my observation. They not only do well, but they do VERY well, especially by the second year. The last two years, those have been native Chinese speakers who spoke very little English when they entered my room, but who do VERY well in Latin.

    It just works with all kinds of learners. I am a Universalist. Can you tell?

    1. When I went into a primary school to teach Second graders English twice a week, the teacher pointed out a little boy saying not to expect him to follow because he was Portuguese and his family had just moved to France. Since he didn’t speak any French, she couldn’t see how he’d be able to understand my lessons. Well, guess who was my star pupil? Not only was he a great barometer for me, the fact that he could show the others that he was far from stupid even though he didn’t speak French was terribly important for the construction of his own identity.

  2. Just finished up a master of science program with a concentration in ESOL (“other” languages, since for some people it is not their second) and each class had textbooks lauding Krashen.

    Carol Gaab has quite a bit of experience with using TPRS for ESL. She is employed by major league baseball teams to work with new players who do not have English skills. (Think Ben mentioned seeing her world series ring when she visited his class.) There is a you tube video showing her working with some of the players. One is labeled Marcos-pqa and you can find it just by putting her name in the search. Since English is the target language, it gives a comprehensible example of how PQA works.

  3. I would like to ask a very basic question about signing – and then about TPRS resources. As a newbie TPRS teacher I’m teaching English to Thai people in Bangkok. I don’t do signing for every word… but I would like to. The students – esp young ones – seem to understand better with it, and it slows me down.

    Is there a book you can recommend with a signing dictionary so to speak – so I can look up suggested signs for the vocab in my lesson, before I teach it?

    Also more generally, is there a starter-kit TPR/ TPRS wishlist you would recommend I invest in to get me going? My only 2 TPRS books are Ben’s. I keep thinking to buy things off Blaine’s website and then I can’t decide what… because I want too much. I think I should get it all at once because the postage will be huge – it has to come to Thailand.

    I had been thinking of the mini-story books etc for teaching the lessons. But perhaps I need to step back a bit and get stuff to gen me up generally and that I can apply to different lessons. I was getting stuck with buying teacher’s /student’s books because I”m teaching private lessons to a whole range of ages and levels – more fool me !

    I am intermediate-ish (so I think!) Spanish learner – I lived there for 6 months last year and love the language. So I was wondering whether to buy Blaine’s demo videos of him teaching Spanish… because I could experience TPRS as a learner.

    Do you recommend buying Pobre Ana for instance in English or is there another novel you think would be fab? For my intermediate 1:1s I normally get them onto one of the standard Penguin/ MacMillan graded readers and we talk about the story in class… though this is a habit from pre-TPRS.

    Any decisive advice would be most helpful here… intuitively I’m favouring videos to learn from. I saw a clip of Ben in action and it was so inspiring … always more so than a book can ever be.

    Or should I just invest in some Spanish lessons via Skype – from a TPRS teacher… and forget the books and videos?

    Thank you all.

    1. Kath all of us are ostensibly trying to get our video-of-us teaching acts together and shared with others here in this safe internet space. It is just such a difficult thing to make happen but we can continue to try.

      I have a ton of video from recent years that I want to edit and do voice commentary on but the time has not been there. I hope to get more footage from the conferences as well.

      If we develop a spirit of just putting our teaching out there – albeit most crucially in the privacy of this venue – we can help each other get better at it. One of the key focal points of this community should be the use of images/video to gain a greater understanding of the details of this work, and not rely only on words/posts and comments.

      It is our egos that are getting in the way, frankly. We should become fearless and post whatever video shit we have and if we are kind to each other we will look beyond the flaws to see what we are doing right (a good definition of what teaching really is) so that we can encourage each other and get better at it.

      The privacy of this site can guarantee the trust we need to grow but we need bios from everybody! Just put up some links when it feels right.

      Katherine you are awesome. I have never seen a new person come into this with guns ablazing like you. I have no fears that you will be expert at this in a year or so. However, I see in your question a reliance on materials that characterizes many in the TPRS/CI world and it is not about materials.

      There are no materials that can make the method work because the method can only work if it reflects and illustrates the greatness and spontaneous creativity that you have as an individual within yourself as a teacher.

      Materials (I don’t mean videos for sale or stuff like that but things that are touted as TPRS “curriculae”) create distance. There is no and will never be an effective TPRS curriculum because TPRS/CI instruction must be and remain fluid and spontaneous or it will lose its interest.

      On the issue of signing/gesturing. My take on it is that we never can do enough, but we are so busy trying to think of so many other things when teaching that we just forget. Ergo, it would be impossible for you to try to find to find a book we could recommend with a signing dictionary.

      Keep this stuff out of your head. Intellectualize less. We are in a quantum shift about what teaching language means. Seek less materials. Take only yourself into the classroom. Only then will you be able to unleash the raw power that is in the method.

      Of course, that is ust my own opinion, one that is shared in the TPRS community by very few people.

  4. Thank you Ben for this. You did of course hit the nail on the head. And I will try to stop obsessing about “getting it right”… ha. I have ordered the fluency fast DVDs for Spanish. and look forward to acquiring some more language and a bit of TPRS thrown in… Thanks again.

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