Report from the Field – Deena Swenson

To view this content, you must be a member of Ben's Patreon at $10 or more
Already a qualifying Patreon member? Refresh to access this content.



24 thoughts on “Report from the Field – Deena Swenson”

  1. WOO-HOOO!!!! Yay Deena! Thank you so much for posting this! Totally agree when you say “why doesn’t everyone do this?” Makes me so excited for Monday, which will be my first actual day of teaching! This is such awesome news. It’s just the best feeling to see kids lit up like that 😀

  2. I agree with jen, do keep posting these kinds of reports!

    That’s great news, Deena. I think most of us who switched from other teaching methods have felt just as you do. Isn’t it great?

  3. Go Deanna!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    You wrote “Why doesn’t everyone do this?” This is the EXACT thought I had 15 years ago when I saw my first TPRS presentation!! I wanted to stand up on a chair and yell YYYYEEEEHHHAAAAA!! I couldn’t figure out why everyone around me was sitting so calmly when the language teaching world had just shifted so radically right in front of us!!

    with love,

  4. Bernard Rizzotto

    I was having a conversation with a couple of other language teachers from my high school the other day and got a hint at the WHY they do not use TPRS (0ne of them even came to a Blaine workshop a few years ago). Because it’s scary for them! They don’t know where to start from. Both said that they were willing to have some coaching sessions this year… and I think this is the answer: coaching.

    1. A teacher I know directly told me, “The idea of creating stories with the students scares me.” But really, you can teach with Comprehensible Input without co-creating stories live like in TPRS. I think that she might get at least to that point some day.

  5. Coaching, coaching and more coaching. Coaching with peers, groups getting together to talk about what works and what doesn’t and how slow is slow. I think that’s the real way to get this across to other teachers. It’s a tremendous leap out of the grammar airplane and the earth is a long way down there, so we have to learn to trust the Comprehensible Input parachute. It’s so much easier when you see someone do it and someone watches you and guides you through those first lessons. I stumbled around on my own for a long time before I got it to work, so I’m envious of those who have colleagues who can help.

    1. Our department is doing coaching sessions every Tuesday after school. Our new teachers are using that time to practice PQA and circling skills, or parts of the lessons they are planning on teaching that week. They have all been trained at least once in 3-4 day training, but as everyone knows, support and community are essential. Those of us, who have been using TCI for a few years, are also using the sessions to practice deeper questioning skills and in general, improve all TCI skills. So far, so good. We are all trying to observe at least part of one class per week, too.
      I am excited to be using the skills I learned at NTPRS observing all the coaches and coaching sessions during the week, as well as the Coaching for Coaches session before NTPRS. And of course, all the skills and confidence I have gained by being a member of this PLC.

  6. ^ like ^

    If I hadn’t had Michelle Metcalfe and Bess Underhill let me watch them before I started TPRS, it would have been close to impossible. Community is half the battle.

    I felt EXACTLY the same way at my first workshop…every neuron in the language teacher part of my brain seemed to fire at once, silent, upon a peak in Darien.


  7. It makes so much sense, it’s hard to believe not everyone gets it.

    I’m getting ready to start the NW Ohio coaching group again. Working on a good date, probably Sat Sept 28. Let anyone know in this area.

    Supporting each other either virtually or physically is so important to the success of everyone trying to do this way of teaching.

  8. Teri if you can send me an email with the details of the NW Ohio coaching group’s next meeting, I will publish it as a post. I created a category for regional workshops as well. It’s called Workshops/Regional. So people can start looking in there for any coaching coming up in their region. To review, your group meets later this month, then in October in Milwaukee Chinese teachers have that workshop and then the Mainers meet as they do every October (that information from skip was published here yesterday) and then I think Diane/Eric and the Chicago group are getting ready to meet again as well. So thank you Teri. I echo what Judy said about the need for coaching. Regional (reachable by car) meetings could be a very valuable thing for us to use to train and share and practice our craft. It’s good to see driveable meetings/coaching sessions happening more and more!

  9. YOU GO, DEENA!!! It’s intoxicating, isn’t it? I am so happy for you AND your students.
    I agree with everyone here who said coaching is the key. Plus, peaking interest in colleagues around you (you don’t have to do anything in this regard, the kids do it for you ;-).
    In our department of 30, two of us started with CI two years ago, last September 2 more colleagues joined us, with a fifth jumping in half way through the year. In a few weeks, Laurie is coming for a 2-day session because our chairman wants to move the whole department in this direction.
    So, Deena, while you have found the holy grail of teaching language for yourself, your early success might get a whole avalanche rolling in your department. So cool!

  10. I had a new colleague say to me on Friday that one of his Spanish 2 students, who had me last year, is doing GREAT! He knows vocab, and can speak in complete sentences!!! wow, what a compliment! 🙂

  11. I don’t know if you realize how great I feel…this could be life-changing for me!!!! SERIOUSLY! Deena, it will be life changing. You will not burnout from pushing grammar worksheets that they don’t get. Wonderful report. Joe Martin, The Educator Motivator said, “If our students can’t APPLY what we’ve taught, then they haven’t really LEARNED anything.”

  12. Way to go, Deena!
    It’s so awesome that you started circling right away. I didn’t do much the first day because I was so overwhelmed. I did have a similar experience in which I witnessed a new student (who moved from reading and who is now with my 7th graders who I had last year) totally “get it. ” I did the Linda Li “looks at, loves, and wants” mini story or whatever you want to call it and she was responding to my questions with the rest of the class! Totally thrilling. Of course my other 7th grade class was horrible, but then there’s always that one class.
    I wonder if others have issues with extreme levels in the same classroom. I have one 8th grade class in which one of my students went to a Spanish immersion camp over the summer and is more proficient than me (almost) along with 4 students who have had no Spanish. I’m a bit intimidated by this!

  13. How wonderful! I, too, am a Johnny come lately to TPRS, but just like Laurie said, the shift rocked my world and I am having a blast. Most importantly, my students are making so many gains in language acquisition.


  14. The army is growing in size. One teacher at a time!

    It only gets better, Deena. Whole hours will fly by with classfulls of kids laughing, not realizing that you’re acquiring language.


  15. Hi all,

    I am also new to TPRS. I have wanted to switch to this method for a while but I didn’t have the energy or time to change. But I am loving it so far! For me, it is has only been a week and a half but I am astonished by how much the kids are understanding in my French 1 middle school classes.

    The other day I tried the word chunk team activity and they loved it. Not only did they love it, they were on the edges of their seat when I said the statement once. Today I did extended PQA. I pulled out their questionnaires and they first started saying things like “you’re actually going to use those? ” I started with “il va” (he goes) used the information on the sheet to describe where he goes, with whom, when with the kids adding in cute answers. It was hilarious and fun and I had a 95% pass rate on the mini-quiz afterwards. The most telling thing was my barometer kid. He was the kid who walked in on the first day and gave me that “I not here to learn French, just to warm a seat” look. Well, today, he was smiling and practically jumping in his seat as we talked about the kid who goes to the Apple Store with RG3 (our local football hero) to buy 5 iphones because he is really, really rich, but not with Justin Bieber and he doesn’t go to the Microsoft Store and he doesn’t go with his mom.

    We are all having a lot of fun and I can “see” the learning and the excitement in their faces and their expressions (several questionnaires were taken back to be edited so that I can talk about them next time!). I am trying to go SLOW and pause and point (easier said then done when you are all laughing and having fun).

    So a big Thank You! The trees thank you also because I am not killing millions of them with useless worksheets and vocab lists nor am I wasting time standing in line for one. The kids love that too….less crap in their binders.

    Inger Moran

  16. This is great, Inger. I laughed out loud at your last paragraph. Good one!! Also, your point, about how easy it is to forget SLOW when everyone is having so much fun, is very perceptive. We can get carried away with the energy of “the class”–and forget to watch those barometers. Thanks for the reminder and keep having fun!!!!

Leave a Comment

  • Search

Get The Latest Updates

Subscribe to Our Mailing List

No spam, notifications only about new products, updates.

Related Posts

The Problem with CI

To view this content, you must be a member of Ben’s Patreon at $10 or more Unlock with PatreonAlready a qualifying Patreon member? Refresh to

CI and the Research (cont.)

To view this content, you must be a member of Ben’s Patreon at $10 or more Unlock with PatreonAlready a qualifying Patreon member? Refresh to

Research Question

To view this content, you must be a member of Ben’s Patreon at $10 or more Unlock with PatreonAlready a qualifying Patreon member? Refresh to

We Have the Research

To view this content, you must be a member of Ben’s Patreon at $10 or more Unlock with PatreonAlready a qualifying Patreon member? Refresh to



Subscribe to be a patron and get additional posts by Ben, along with live-streams, and monthly patron meetings!

Also each month, you will get a special coupon code to save 20% on any product once a month.

  • 20% coupon to anything in the store once a month
  • Access to monthly meetings with Ben
  • Access to exclusive Patreon posts by Ben
  • Access to livestreams by Ben