Staying in Bounds Question

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12 thoughts on “Staying in Bounds Question”

  1. To me, staying in bounds means:

    1. using words that the students already know.
    2. never introducing a new word without making sure the students know its meaning, being sure to write new words and their English translations on the board and point to them.
    3. building most of your CI for that day only around the target structures for that day, if you still target structures.

    You will know that you stayed in bounds after a story when you turn around and look at the white board and it has no new words written on it. Of course, that is nigh impossible (I just wanted to say “nigh impossible” there) and so we keep loving ourselves if there are like three or four new words on the board after the story. However, if the board is littered with new words, yes, we keep loving ourselves, but the kids won’t love us too much, because they will have not understood much if any of what we just said in the TL.


    1. Narrow and deep gets the job done.
    2. Shallow and wide does not get the job done.
    3. Deep funnel circling until we get tot he bottom of the funnel and therefore must add in a detail or new event gets the job done.
    4. Failure to circle and get reps on whatever structure is happening at that moment in class does not get the job done.

  2. Also sometimes, and we teach this at conferences, we spin content by asking our students parallel personalized questions about stuff happening in the text. This art of spinning new personalized content is a big opportunity to go completely off the rails and out of bounds. So the mindful practitioner of TPRS will always remember to “spin” new content about the student while using the same words as before the spinning began, thus staying in bounds.

    1. Agreed. We were watching the Spanish Interactive Storytellig YouTube videos and talking about the ninja’s colors. I was tempted to start talking about what color shirts students had when I realized I didn’t even know the word for “shirt.” Instead, I stayed in bounds by asking what color they liked because they knew “me/te/le gusta.”

        1. Although I haven’t caught the latest Tea with BvP, Jim Tripp brought to my attention that Bill said something about the importance of being fluent. I need to listen to the episode first, but it’s safe to say that he’s not taking something into consideration, or defining “fluent” in a particular way.

          1. I seriously believe that my Spanish kids are learning more because it is easier for me to stay in bounds because I am not anywhere near as strong in Spanish as French. It almost seems that limited proficiency is a gift. I teach first year only, so I am not sure how much of a “gift” it would be in the upper levels. But I feel deep in my heart that even so, a teacher with even my level of proficiency could teach better upper-level Spanish with CI than a native speaker using traditional methods.

          2. Looks like Bob is thinking the same thing:
            From a recent post:
            I don’t have to be an advanced Latin speaker to teach Latin with CI at the high school level–even in the fourth year. No worries.

  3. One thing about TPRS is that it requires mindfulness. We have compared it over the years here to yoga. We keep doing it no matter how we feel and we bring to it a mindfulness, which is a kind of respect for the fact that on certain days there will be a kind of dull pain in ourselves (because we are radical teachers) and then on other days there will be great joy. Those things are part of what we signed up for when we jumped into the CI barco.

    So when we say that we are “staying in bounds”, we are bringing with us a mindfulness that no matter what is going on, no matter how scattered or happy we are that day in our classrooms (it changes every class sometimes where we have a home run story followed by a piece of crap), and in spite of the ups and downs, we always keep to the rails, we keep to the words they know.

    When we do that, we show our students respect; we show that we know that they don’t know the word. It is a humble act. To do this, we must not be insulted when some kid says, “All we’ve learned in the last ten minutes is one word.” We ignore such ignorance and hold firm to the idea of avoiding introducing new words.

    We use mindfulness to stay in bounds. It shows respect for ourselves and for our students. We do not throw the CI all over the walls. We hand it to our students while bowing. We go up to each student and bow and hand them the CI. With respect in our hearts, we grow to become better teachers. Staying in bounds is an artful act. The angels who are there to protect us in our classrooms help us and support us. Always.

  4. OMG Joseph please please please write me offline about your experience in Israel training for Hebrew. I am working on T/CI Hebrew materials as we speak, and just pitched a grant proposal to teach & coach some Hebrew teachers here in Chicagoland.
    How exciting!!

  5. Joseph same request as Alisa! I am learning Hebrew as well for a few reasons…and I would love to hear your advice on TPRS/CI in Hebrew (and any and all resources you’re using). Can you contact me as well?? Thank you! Sorry to just post a request but I couldn’t help it!

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