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18 thoughts on “TPRS vs. TCI”

  1. Thanks!!! I needed this today. 🙁 May I please use this the next time I feel I have to defend myself?
    HOWEVER…..on the bright side: I had students give presentations of their FamilyTree projects the other day (I know, GASP! “forced output”, but “required” in my school.) So, this was the fourth year of doing this project, and the FIRST time ALL students did WONDERFULLY with their pronunciation!!!! I was so pleased. I told them today that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about how good their pronunciation was on Tuesday, and asked them if they had any ideas why they were so good? Their unanimous response was, “because you talk to us all the time in Spanish and are always telling us stories, and make us speak in Spanish to you. We need to ask permission to speak in English.” (OK, they said all that in ENGLISH! ) But I forgave them! 🙂 THAT makes days like today bearable. and this list does too! thank you all!


  2. TPR, TPRS, StoryAsking, Storytelling, Reading strategies and teaching with an acquisition model based on the research of Stephen Krashen and others.

    Isn’t all of that basically TPRS?

  3. Yes, Chris and it would be wrong to imply that it wasn’t. I know this because I have tried to bust the model every few years and it always pops back into the shape that Blaine and Joe and Susie first made.

    It’s very much like how when they went to change the taste of Coke and it just didn’t work. So yes, your insight is correct. The fact is that it is just some form of TPRS.

    Then the political thing comes in, and I won’t get into that here. The term TPRS has become, for whatever reasons – it doesn’t matter – a huge lightening rod for negative energy and opposition. It just has and there is nothing that can be done about it.

    What to do? I like what Jim Tripp said here a few years ago to just call it “teaching that aligns with current research”. I also like the term “comprehension based instruction”.

    I remember when the term TCI – teaching with comprehensible input – was invented. We were sitting around in our writing team (we write district assessments for a few weeks every year in June) and I remember really pushing the group for a name that we all could live with because it was clear at that point that the Denver group was not going to use the term TPRS.

    We literally tried out hundreds of terms just sitting around right there (waiting for Diana to show up – she brings us breakfast or we won’t work) and Meredith Richmond just said, “Teaching using/with Comprehensible Input” and that was it. I felt that it was the one. And it is what we now use in DPS and what more than a few people in Los Angeles use now as well.

  4. Those are mostly elements of TPRS, but using TCI does a couple of things:
    1. removes the loaded term (the term “TPRS”, for a variety of reasons, has a polarizing effect)
    2. recognizes that there are ways to deliver Comprehensible Input that are not part of the generally recognized TPRS method – it’s a broader term
    3. uses the same terminology that Krashen uses (C0mprehensible Input) rather than a new acronym
    4. connects to a wider support base (researchers consistently support the statement that “the single most important element in learning a language is comprehensible input”; there is not the same level of support for TPRS)

    Those are reasons I have started using the term TCI. Recently I corresponded with a colleague who has been fed negative attitudes toward TPRS but who is concerned about meeting the 90% target for L2 in the classroom. She already tells stories, so I walked her through the sequence of Constructing Meaning, Asking the Story and doing Reading without using the buzz words. She reacted very positively to this; I doubt the reception would have been as positive if I had said, “Here’s how to do TPRS.”

  5. I agree with all but #2. How is TCI a broader term? That is what Diana says, and what she said above in the original article above, and we have talked a lot on this topic, but, in my view, that broader sequence of:

    …Constructing Meaning, Asking the Story and doing Reading….

    is just another way to say the Three Steps of TPRS. For twelve years I tried to test and remold that (remember the Realm? – that was my biggest effort), but every time I put my fist into the rubber wall, it popped back into shape.

    1. I may have thrown this in here already, but here goes:

      When I present I use my “own” terminology to identify the three steps (Carol G and others do the same) I make it very clear that they are simply my explanations of the “official” 3 steps that Blaine has trademarked.

      Here they are:

      1. Introduce “structurally-embedded” vocabulary.
      In other words, individual words much connect with or in a structure. Sleeps in a bed as opposed to a bed. A veces, Pocas veces, muchas veces, Raras veces, Muchísimas veces. Not just La vez and then all of its forms. I also say that the other way that vocab is “embedded” is in slang. Idiomatic expressions and one-liners like ¡Chispas!

      2. Interact via a storyline.
      This helps participants to see that a story has a storyline, but so does a conversation, a song, a poem, an argument etc.

      3. Introduce literacy…
      ….at a level where students experience SUCCESS. This helps teachers to see that just throwing reading at them is not where it’s at.

      with love,

    2. Re #2: Note that I wrote “the generally recognized TPRS method”. I’m not talking about the expanded concepts many of the people in this PLC have about TPRs. As generally represented and practiced, TPRS consists of
      1. Construct Meaning through one or more of the following: TPR, writing in target language and L1 on the board, PQA, personalized mini-story
      2. Create a story through asking questions and circling
      3. Read the culminating story as a class using a variety of methods

      Some things (by no means an exhaustive list) not included in that are
      a. FVR
      b. Input-based games
      c. Music when it isn’t part of the “culminating story”
      d. Dictée
      From the blog, I’m sure you consider these part of TPRS, but that is not the generally recognized form of the method. So, for that reason TCI is a broader term than TPRS – at least for most people.

      1. @Robert
        I agree. I would not put a-d as part of TPRS, but I would add “reading”.

        1) reading at the end of a story cycle–which specifically supports the repetition of the story cycle structures or
        2) more general “reading”: short novels at appropriate language acquisition and reading level of students
        3) FVR, when appropriate. (Jody still thinks that FVR with first year students is a waste of class time.)

        1. I agree that FVR is a waste of time for the first year. Even Kindergarten Day has to be very simplified; they just don’t have enough vocabulary.

          My students didn’t really start until the second semester of the second year–now they know enough to get something out of it. I made the mistake this year of starting my grammar-trained students right into second year novels; far too difficult for them. We are ending this year by going back to a first-year novel; hoping they can end the year feeling more successful.

  6. Yes, I made the mistake of using that four-letter acronymn this year!!! LOTS of negative attitude toward it and now me when I don’t even use it, but rather say what fun I had teaching my class “today.” We are working on our curriculum maps this coming week (we’ve tried every one of the 4 years I have been here! Now, we’re being separated into two day to it — Spanish one day, French another, then we’ll come together with Middle school to align all together – please….don’t ask!)
    Anyway, yesterday one of the French teachers asked me and the other Spanish teacher: “do you think we need to be sure to include ‘reading’ in our curricula maps?” and I was aghast, and said, “YES, of course!” and she said, “yes, me too! we NEED reading!” my colleague (Spanish – who teaches beginning level 2; 3, and 4 and 5) said, “Well, I don’t know what to do for reading for Level 1. I am so Literature-based, I don’t know what to have them read in Level 1 that they can handle.” So, I spoke up and said, “I teach Level 1 (remember??) and I have them read. Last semester I had them read Pobre Ana, and now the Middle school is having the 8th graders read it.” Then she said, “You know, I have Willy Wonka in Spanish, I suppose I could have them read that.” So I responded with, “well, according to ACTFL standards it really should have some sort of a culture base to it.” and she then looked at me and said, “so, HOW is Pobre Ana culture based?” so I calmly explained to her: “well, the girl goes to Mexico as an exchange student, and sees a totally different way of schooling and way of life as compared to home, It also teaches a life lesson having her return with a greater appreciation of what she DOES have with her family and home.” and instead of saying, “Oh, I didn’t realize that. OK.” she said, “that sounds boring. what do I do if something is boring to ME?” I wanted to say, “The same I am going to have to do if I have to teach Levels 3, 4 and 5 and teach Lazarillo, Don Quixote, and Blood Wedding, because I really don’t like old literature.” (she LOVES it – she’s also a native speaker – she grew up bilingual)
    But the bottom line is: she and I are good friends! we get along GREAT and are on the same page with so many things in life. But not this year regarding teaching. I made the mistake of saying how jazzed I was about attending a TPRS workshop over the summer, and am having so much fun using its methods in my class, that it seems any ideas I have this year are not agreeable to her. It’s frustrating because she usually doesn’t have such a closed mind. But, she did say at the beginning of the year: “I once went to a 1.5 hour workshop and it looked hokey to me. That is why I am against it. That’s not fair. I am open to learning more about it.” But now it’s almost June and I haven’t seen her ask me any questions, or inquire about it more – only find fault it seems. SO, how do I handle this “curriculum mapping” with her this week? It worries me because I do not want to give up how I am teaching (and my students are succeeding). Oh yeah – does anyone have any curriculum maps that seem generic enough to appease non-TPRSers, but work for TPRS? Thanks!

  7. Curriculum maps and pacing guides are bogus. I once helped write one. It took over a year and it had no relationship to comprehension based instruction. I don’t think you’ll ever find one to meet that description above. Oil and water, in my opinion. It sounds like you’ll have to just do it, since it is a professional responsibility, but in my view it won’t serve anything in your actual planning. I would like to hear what the others say about this, bc I could be off base here. Here is that link from this site on this topic:

    1. I totally agree with you. Since June I have been trying to read as much as I can on second language acquisition, and it all resonates with TPRS (maybe that’s why Dr. Krashen is such big presence in our community! :-} )
      TPRS just makes sense, and it is so neatly bundled into a nice easy-to-follow method of delivery! AND it has some great people who are always willing to help!

  8. I stumbled across a GREAT video of Terry Waltz explaining TPRS. In it she also explains how one can “adapt” a district’s/school’s curriculum map to “fit” a TPRS classroom. I have included the link to the video here, in case anyone wants to see it:

    But, I was hoping that someone had something I could look at to help me through this week!

    1. Just my two bits. Suppose I’ve been doing something for years and feel that I’m doing it fairly well. Then someone comes in and says, “Wow! I’ve discovered a totally new approach that’s so good, it’s amazing. The old way is ready for the trash bin.” If I’m very very secure in my skills, I can have a look and try out this new thing. If I’m not that secure, I’m going to decide … , well, Aesop said it all. Those grapes might be out of my reach, so they’re probably sour anyway. I think it may be our very enthusiasm that puts people off and makes TPRS a red flag.

    2. Look around on Laurie Clarcq’s site. She has some help with curriculum maps…and if the TPRStalk site is up, you can find some curriculum maps there too. So does the yahoo tprs group (in the files).

      If anyone else has a direct line to some of these, please do tell and get MB some help!

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