TPR – 2

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26 thoughts on “TPR – 2”

  1. My observations on watching Eric doing TPR with his kids:
    1. Use of English when doing TPR as we introduce verbs is necessary and a good thing.
    2. He models the gesture with the students.
    3. One thing to add can be “kiss the elephant three times” – the x number of times thing is just one possible option when doing these commands.
    4. One thing I might want to do is wait just a few seconds before doing the gesture that I suggest myself so that they don’t just copy my actions without thinking.
    5. Eric goes to a pair of students to break things up half way through the video. Wyatt and Joseph clearly love the attention, they are really good actors and clearly react to the commands instantaneously. This is excellent stuff and I never really did it before, to the detriment of my students.
    6. One may think that this is really simple stuff but it’s not. The kids are processing huge chunks of Spanish effortlessly.
    7. Look at the faces of the kids as they watch Wyatt and Joseph gesture – those kids are engaged and the affective filter is literally at zero.
    8. There is no tension in Eric’s commands. He is not doing what a lot of us do, and that is to NEED the kids to learn. He’s just hanging out with them. Again, unless one observes with a close eye, one can forget how practiced the teaching skills are here.
    9. Notice that the kids are not in desks. They are able to move their bodies around readily during class. And yet there is no one acting out. The lack of desks perhaps brings that lack of the kids feeling trapped. It’s like with my Australian Shepherd Elsie – when she is on a leash and another dog is on a leash there can be trouble, but when a bunch of dogs are not on leashes at the doggie park they rarely get into any conflict. No desks. Sabrina has done it in her school in DPS and from what I saw it increases engagement since the kids have nothing to hide behind.
    10. After ten minutes the kids don’t need a brain break. The lack of desks has helped lower the affective filter, as they are encouraged to move about in response to Eric’s commands.
    11. Notice at 11:53 when Eric presents the wall the kids don’t hesitate. Also when he asks them to write on an imaginary wall they do so with good will and readily. It shows how kids just need to move their bodies in class. TPR brings that in ways nothing else does.
    12. I want to call our attention again to how relaxed Eric is. He is not nervous about not being able to come up with a command, as he explains above. He just thinks of one of the group of five verbs or so that he is trying to TPR, and when he thinks of a verb he thinks of doing something with the verb (“Write on the wall.”) It’s simple and yet how many of us can just relax and not be nervous. I think that one of the reasons I have avoided TPR is that I feared not being able to come up with commands. Now I see that I didn’t need to worry about that. All we have to do is relax and the ideas will come to us.
    13. Just to mention that the commands being done in the third person is an important detail. In French it works fine, since the tu form is virtually the same, but if we tried in French to do vous form (2nd p. plural) commands it would be a disaster and cause the kids all sorts of problems later because of sound conflicts with other tenses.
    14. So we can see at 14:00 min. that Eric is in full command of the class and has done something that Julie has talked about, and this is super important in my own mind: both Eric and Julie use the objects in the room to illustrate and “work” the verbs as in “Kiss the wall, etc.” This combination of gesturing verbs with classroom objects is a big deal. The kids must know both when we do TPR, because of how handy the classroom objects are to make the verbs come alive.
    15. At 14:00 Josh gets a nice round of applause for his work with the wall. I heartily recommend those rounds of applause. I have given kids a round of applause for the smallest things over the years, many of them per class. I think it is because we have a population of our kids who never get acknowledged for anything they do these days in our society in general. Nothing is ever good enough, it seems. Well it’s good enough in their foreign language class! As I watch Eric work with his kids, I see the model of a new vision of a teacher – one who, by relaxing himself when he is teaching, gives the kids permission to relax, one who, by constantly approving of his students, lays to rest old models of stern teachers in conflict with their students, who want the power. There is lots of power sharing in this class, and yet the students know clearly who is in charge.
    16. At 17:00 Eric casually brings in how the yo form of reads is leo. He then asks a student to say “I read”. This is a very subtle introduction to first person speech output by the kids. He’s laying the foundation for it here.
    17. AT 17:50 to 18:40 we see how Eric just flows from one idea to another with Greg and then with Evelyn (black and white shirt). He is not stressing about what he is saying or where he is going next with his questioning. It is a natural following of ideas.
    It’s really good to see how Eric interacts with these kids. It’s really low key. He’s not trying to be a big super TPRS teacher with all sorts of laughs happening, which is something many of us have got to dump as we think about what a teacher who uses comprehensible input is. All Eric is trying to do is help the kids learn the verbs. The sense of light play in the room is one that we should all try to emulate. There is zero judging going on, no one kid is better than the other, all the kids are smart and can do it, etc. We forget that these things don’t happen in regular WL classrooms, where competition is the key operative word.
    And don’t forget that Eric has lots of stuff on YouTube. Watch and learn! Thank you Eric!

  2. “…it increases engagement since the kids have nothing to hide behind.”
    After attending a Blaine Ray (taught by Von) conference in the fall, I observed some teachers using TPRS at another school in my county. Two were whole hog CI/TPRS teachers and did not have desks. Not only did I rewrite my next day’s lesson plan after witnessing their incredible PQA strategies, but I went straight to my admin that next morning and asked to have my desks removed. Having the kids in a semi-circle in chairs made a huge difference in the engagement level of my students, and my ability to identify and track my barometer kids. Not only is it more conducive to TPR and stories, but the kids can not have anything to distract them. There is no place to hide a phone or a note or a book. And we can all see each other and look in each others eyes so much easier this way. It’s more personal. After the first class of the switch, I had a student come to me and say, “I really like this set up much better. I feel like I’m at home and can relax. It makes it so much easier to talk to each other”.
    And Eric thank you for sharing this video. I came across it a while ago and shared it with my colleagues who were interested in incorporating TPR into their classes (they aren’t quite ready for TPRS), and it has really helped me to develop my TPR skills. We had fun the other day with commands like “turn like a ninja, drink like an elephant”, etc.

  3. This is brilliant! I’ve got my first few weeks with my new 6th graders sorted now; many thanks for the video, Eric. Does this TPR starter to the year flow into Matava scripts and Movietalk?
    TPR has worked well with my 6th/7th graders but I’ve noticed that the 8th graders really clam up. Trying to encourage some of my 10th graders to gesture has been a struggle as well, especially the girls who are more…traditionally academically inclined. After the first month of class, one girl claimed that TPR did not help her learn and she felt embarassed doing any sort of gesture. This had a ripple effect across the class and everyone stopped gesturing altogether, much to their detriment. Does anyone have any ideas on kids who are very resistent to TPR?

  4. Sometimes TPR (done as an isolated 15 minute + activity) can substitute or supplement PQA and set up the structures for a story or MT. The language from TPR, especially the verbs, show up in everything. And while I start beginners with TPR, it’s something that can work all year long and at any time in the year to give kids a change, too.
    Not sure how to overcome the gesture-resistant kids. It’s not an option to gesture in my class. I would move a resistant kid outside of the circle, out of view, and make them watch. Maybe they’ll feel more comfortable with hand gestures and not full-body gestures. . . ?

    1. “The language from TPR, especially the verbs, show up in everything.”
      I hadn’t considered that until watching your video. All these TPR verbs would add so much color and humor to stories. Many thanks!
      Perhaps I need to take a tougher stand on TPR-resistant kids – it’s an instructional activity backed by decades of research and a form of assessment as well. I’m all for pupils feeling safe but the issue can take a twist for the negative when they realize that they can complain about activities that they don’t want to make an effort in instead of legitimately feeling uncomfortable doing.
      For one particularly negative (and outspoken) girl, I spent 40 minutes of a class going through one of Asher’s case studies and explaining point after point. That quieted her down a little bit but she still turned the class off any form of gestures, hand or full-body. Perhaps I should’ve put her out of view of the others. Thanks for that idea, Eric.

  5. Gotta post a TPR breakthrough! I tried how Asher teaches TPR – – the teacher demoing with 2 students, the rest of the class observing.
    Wow, did this make classroom management easier, especially with the younger kids! The rest of the class was told to be silent and just observe. The rest of the class acquires the language just from observation, although, I do think there should be an active participation at some point for everyone (e.g. Simon Says). I would do short, 1 minute demos with 2 students, then ask for 2 more volunteers, and ask for 2 different volunteers, etc. Every 4th grader wants to be a volunteer. I gradually added more language.
    I also think it helped to introduce the language the first time with a logical sequence (stand, walk, stop, turn around, walk, stop, turn around, sit), then start mixing it up, going out of order, and recombining language into utterances they have never heard before (novel commands). I have the words in L2 and L1 on the board, but I don’t think the younger kids are even looking. I am not needing the translation so far because of the obvious actions.
    This is a HIT! When I used to do this with younger grades I would spend a lot more time with all the kids gesturing together and kids more easily lost control and went off-script 😉 I am thinking that I’ll have a 10-15 minute TPR component in all my classes and we’ll build on this language all year. The activity feels different from the TPRS, MT, etc.

    1. Recently I stopped asking the whole class to do TPR, too, and started taking volunteers (which I expect the class to applaud when they do things we decide upon). I read that, too, about observing and hearing with comprehension working as well as actually doing the actions oneself.

      1. I’ve also shifted away from the whole class TPR for the most part. I stole the idea (pretty sure it was from here) of making signs that say, show me, show them, show us, show him/her. That was a game changer. The kids are much more focused and not just lazily watching for what someone else does.

    1. I LOVE TPR. Movement really works. TPR is concrete and visible. I dare say that because of the movement, the TPR reps are higher quality than circling reps or pure auditory reps.
      TPR is telling, not asking. Although not personalized, TPR can be plenty compelling, so acquisition happens.
      Only in the first few moments of a TPR class may there be isolated word-gesture combinations. The majority of class is spent using full sentences with the targets. A series of commands is not far off from telling a story.
      I think it’s a natural progression: commanding -> telling -> asking. I think we can command and tell stories with our targets, which get acted out – a great way to precede step 2 of TPRS.
      Now, TPR lends itself more to action words and physical objects, stuff that is not always high-frequency. What if we could use it’s power to TPR the high-frequency verbs?
      TPR is often recognized as a good vocabulary builder. The recommendation is to introduce and practice words in groups of 3. But I don’t wait until the students master the previous 3, because I will continue to get reps on previous language while working on the next 3. I don’t think I target more than 9 new words in a 30 minute class.
      Here is my first, yet-to-be-trialed plan: I’ve put the top 25 verbs into groups of 3-4 so that the words work together to some degree. I will try to play with these words in a TPR + storytelling fashion. I can keep retelling the mini-story with different details, different students, and eventually storyask the details. The most boring of stories can come to life when acted out and then even more so when we let the class change the details. First appearance of HF verbs in upper case.
      1) HAY un chico. ES alto, rojo, y flaco. ESTÁ en Hawaii.
      2) TIENE 2 sombreros. PONE un sombrero en su estĂłmago. VA a California. LLEVA un sombrero a la casa de Arnold Schwarzenegger.
      3) VA a McDonald’s. LLEGA en un helicĂłptero. LLEGA a las 3am. Ronald le DA una hamburguesa.
      4) TIENE un sombrero rojo. QUIERE un sombrero verde. Va a McDonald’s. ENCUENTRA un sombrero verde.
      5) PARECE CONFUNDIDO. VE un gato. CREE que es un perro. Le DICE: – Miau.
      6) DEBE comer vegetales. HACE una pizza. PASA 3 horas haciendo la pizza.
      7) No SABE bailar. Beyonce PUEDE BAILAR. LLAMA a Beyonce. HABLA con Beyonce.
      8) El perro SIGUE al hombre. No SE QUEDA. El chico le dice: – QuĂ©dese. . . El perro no DEJA de seguirlo.
      If I followed this order and did 2 of these numbers per class, then in 4 classes I will have provided lots of reps on the 25 most frequent verbs in Spanish. Imagine that after 4 classes, the kids can aurally recognize the verb stem, which is often all you need to comprehend the message. And with these 25 verbs, even if incorrectly conjugated, the kids will be able to communicate a lot.
      I’d like to think that I’ve finally extinguished all of the traces of the traditional teacher in me. If our goal is communication, then our priority should be vocabulary, specifically high-frequency vocabulary. It doesn’t matter if a kid knows how to conjugate. In terms of verbs, they really only need to acquire the verb stem or most common stem changes.
      This will also really free me up to provide more non-targeted, yet still comprehensible, CI. Non-targeted CI is appealing to me, because it is more natural and makes it easier to be compelling.

        1. I did #1 today with 7th graders. I have 2 kids who have never had Spanish and the rest of the class had me last year. So #1 is super easy for the majority. But they still got really into it. It lasted about 20 minutes. I’m going to continue with 1-2 of these per class.

          1. I did this today, too, with beginner beginners – 6th graders and my 8th grade “non-language student” students who are learning French with me this year! It rocks!
            stand up, sit down, go to the door/table/window, touch the door/table/window, clap, turn around – all combinations… They took turns being the pair, and the last few in each class did most or all of it without me, even when I switched it up. We’ll see what they remember on Friday.
            Tomorrow I have some 7th graders with big time attitudes and some feisty 8th graders. Can’t wait! I think I’ll use some classroom directions/requests, things that I never have managed to spend enough time on, but that I should.
            I too plan to continue with this, regularly if not every class.
            Thanks, Eric!

      1. I took the 300 most frequent word list from your book, Eric, and copied out all the verbs. I’ve been staring at them regularly and thinking, “these are the most frequent verbs, but they are definitely not the most concrete, easy-to-TPR verbs. They are not the easiest to make into an action-packed story. I want to use words like sleeps, runs, hits, cries, etc…instead of believes, seems like, gets, considers, etc…
        This post addresses those concerns. It IS possible to make a story with those highest-frequency verbs. A little TPR story. I’m gonna try it. Thanks!

          1. Is it possible that some HF words are also later-acquired words, meaning that they might not be the best ones to FOCUS on for beginners? Things like llega, parece, mantiene, etc… (arrives, seems, manintains…)

          2. The orders of acquisition do not refer to vocabulary. Orders are found with regards to word order (syntax) and little words/inflections (morphology).
            There still may be reasons that some vocabulary would be harder to acquire, e.g. if the word is not “processed” by the student, because the context is boring and there is no attention to meaning OR because the word does not have to be processed in order to get the meaning of the sentence.
            Process = linking the form of the word to its meaning and correctly parsing (comprehending word order).

          3. Angie, you make a good point. There may be some tension between the words that are easiest to acquire (action verbs like “dances,” “hits,” and “eats” and certainly concrete nouns) and words that will most help a person communicate.
            It is hoped that by giving beginners the high-frequency words that they’ll have more communicative flexibility, thereby feeling more like an L2 speaker, more confidence, and being in a better place to further their acquisition. But we should never be slaves to a list, especially when the list isn’t serving the above purposes.

        1. Well, I’m storytelling and storyasking the HF verbs that don’t work well as commands.

          E.g. I could say: “Bob has two hats” or I could hold the hats and I say “Bob, have (command) the hats,” which I would follow up with by telling the class that “Bob has two hats.”
          I find myself doing more and liking storytelling, especially before I get to storyasking. So I storytell a few mini-stories that get acted out. Then, maybe I start storyasking the details of the same mini-story.

          1. Gotcha. Thanks for the clarification. I’ve done plenty of storyasking but haven’t done storytelling. I’ll give it a shot next week. Thanks again.

          2. I remember how I used to think less of storytelling, but it can be just as comprehensible and compelling and easier to manage. And it’s a good way to introduce the targets before you get to storyasking.

  6. This is excellent. I had been doing 9 TPR words per week. TPR on MWF with a vPQA of the most frequent verb in the group (tiene, quiere, da, etc.) Then on Thur make a story out of the 3 high frequency verbs with a reading on Fri. Now that I read your post, that process was superior to what I am doing now, which is the more long form LICT first stories. The kids were much more engaged before and they are much more confident in their comprehension of the verbs we TPR’d, vPQA’d and turned into a story. I’m going back to that process tomorrow. Thanks for the reality check, Eric.

  7. This is so awesome! I also LOVE TPR. For years and years (pre-full-on CI days) I always taught my 7th grade exploratories with massive TPR. That was pretty much all we did, with a bit of reading that I wrote up after they heard and acted out everything. I always asked myself “why don’t I teach my other classes like this?”
    Anyway, I am going to commit to more of this. Unfortunately in the group that needs this the most cannot handle it at all. It goes south instantly because of 3 individuals who so far I cannot redirect at all. Today I will try the two volunteers at the front to see if that can work. So far I have not been able to deliver much input because it’s too noisy. Good thing I get to try again today!

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