Total Physical Response (TPR) 

Synopsis prepared by Lee Risley
If you are investigating the nature of TPR, start with the beginning which deals with the “what” and “why”. There are descriptions as well as testimonials. If that doesn’t provide you with the background you need, the resources section provides several ways to get more information. Naturally everything in between is also interesting.

TPRS has a separate section devoted to it here, because its adherents see it as a further development of TPR and not as something completely separate. You will find mention of TPR as a strategy and TPRS as a method.

A caution is perhaps in order here. TPR and especially TPRS are touted here by some “true believer” FL teachers. While that high level of enthusiasm may be off-putting, just remember how much the teachers you’ve met on FLTeach seem to care about the success of their students. These are skilled, dedicated teachers and they obviously feel that they are onto something big.

A. What TPR Is and Why It Is Important
B. Questions, Problems and Responses
C. Things You Do in TPR
D. Creating a “Natural” FL Environment
E. TPR as Complementary to Other Methods
F. TPRS Specifically
G. Evaluation in TPR and TPRS
H. Resources in TPR and TPRS

A. What TPR Is and Why It Is Important

94/11 From-> Jo Benn BENNJ@ctrvax.Vanderbilt.Edu
Subject: Re: TPR & listening comp.

I don't know of any studies done nor do I know of an appropriate test to
use, but from my own experience I believe that students who begin to
learn using TPR do have better listening comprehension. They are forced
to listen in order to learn whereas in traditional methods, they often
choose to wait for written input. This is not scientific at all--just my
own opinion.

Jo Benn

95/03 From-> "Cynthia K. Gerstl" <>
Subject: TPR

I'm finally back on the network after several days absence and want to
comment on TPR. TPR is a wonderful way not only to introduce the
language but to teach all types of complicated constructions. As Frank
said, you can place various different types of expression within the
confines of a command.

TPR can also be used when students have begun to speak. I give my
students commands, and then ask them questions about what has happened.
Invariably, they understand what I'm saying and are able to respond
using the appropriate forms which were previously introduced within the
body of the commands. For students who have difficulty, the difficulty
does not appear to be a generalization of the command form. Rather, they
seem to instinctively understand that the command form is inappropriate
and respond with a form of the conjugated verb -- in which case I model
the sentence.

Cindy Gerstl


96/01 From-> David Christian DCHRISTI <>
Subject: Re: Seeking comments on TPR

I use a lot of TPR at the Language Villages, and find that kids of all
ages are extremely receptive to it. But I also use it when I work with
senior citizens in my Community Ed classes. It's a great tool to use
early into the semester, because it gives the students a chance to
listen and absorb some vocabulary, also gives then a chance to repeat it
as a group before I ask them to speak individually. (It also allows me
to see which students are trying and discern the students that are
comfortable enough to be called on. I try not to get them to anxious
about speech production, but that's a different thread)

As many have said, it's a great tool, as is the internet, videos, tapes,

David Christian

96/01 From-> Andre Thomas     el Maestro <>
Subject: TPR

This semester I have begun using TPR in my beginning level Spanish
classes and I really like it. Yes it can take awhile to plan, but once
you have all the exercises planned, then they will be ready for the next
semester/school year, no? As far as it not being "authentic". I
disagree. On many occasions I have been traveling outside the U.S. and
been in a position of asking for directions, or help of some other
nature, that elicited a response of commands that I had to follow. Also,
I was under that impression that TPR wasn't ONLY applicable to teaching
commands. Perhaps I'm wrong.

Andre Thomas


96/01 From-> Mj Tykoski         <>
Subject: Re: TPR

All hail TPR! I think it is a wonderful method. All four years of my
high school Spanish were TPR based. When I took the Spanish placement
test at the University of Michigan, I tested out of their foreign
language requirement. TPR, as I understand it, is definitely not just
limited to commands. Anything that gets the students physically out of
their seat, their nose out of a book, and doing something in the room is
TPR. Remember it stand for Total Physical Response. Yes it is harder to
plan, but well worth it. I use it with my first year students and am
very pleased. They are retaining much more than I thought they would!

Mj Tykoski


96/01 From-> "Sonja O. Moore" <>
Subject: Re: TPR

I think TPR is hardly "a bandwagon" as Asher's book appeared around 1972
(or 1975, I forget the exact date). The only element of "bandwagon" may
be that many teachers are still discovering what TPR is today.

I fear that many equate TPR only with vocabulary learning and "Simon
Says" but it can be used successfully to teach concepts such as the
future tense, prepositions, and the subjunctive.

I have used TPR for many years in various levels and have found it a
wonderful addition to other methods. I have also taught purely TPR
classes which are labor intensive and require much planning. In my
estimation, you can't "wing it" with TPR if you teach it the way Asher
proposed. The "silent period" that Asher suggests is also a good way of
reducing the anxiety that can come with speaking in the L2 class.

Sonja O. Moore


96/01 From-> "Marilyn V.J. Barrueta" <>
Subject: Re: TPR

>If anyone can be so kind as to e-mail me information concerning TPR I would be
>very appreciative. Thanks.

Edward -- TPR stands for "Total Physical Response" (I have to interject
here that many years ago when that was first introduced a lot of people
thought the name should be changed-- that a total physical response was
the last thing we might want in a high school classroom :>)). It is a
way of teaching which requires the students to perform actions to show
that they understand what they're being asked to do. Although the
material often uses commands ("Mary, give your book to Tony"), it
doesn't have to, and can be built around scenarios that can be acted out
("I wake up, and then get out of bed").

This is a very rudimentary explanation. I'm sure there will be more
elaborate ones posted.

Marilyn Barrueta


96/05 From-> Peter Goldstone <>
Subject: Target language/TPR

In TPR, the target language is the only one used and its use, at least
at the lower levels, is not to explain, but rather to delineate
effective tasks to be completed by the learners. Through their "total
physical response" to "commands", they develop a kinesic familiarity
with the language which eventually creates a readiness to speak. If by
"teaching a grammar point" you mean introducing rule-based structural
directions for the production of correct utterances, TPR is not an
approach to consider. If you mean determining what it is you are going
to teach next and analyzing for yourself how it fits into the nexus
already absorbed and acted upon by the students, grammar points are
often introduced through TPR. But you check whether the lesson has been
learned not by having them restate the rule in their native tongue but
by watching seeing that they perform appropriate tasks in an appropriate

Peter Goldstone


97/08 From-> Mary E Young <>
Subject: Re: TPR

>>TPR is best used to acquire vocabulary.

To teach grammatical structures with TPR you just set up a command that
uses the structure you want to highlight.

Subjunctive: (This sounds so funny in English, I'll give examples in
Je veux que tu prennes cette gomme.
Il faut que tu fasses ce dessin tres vite. Il est important que Jeanne
ait son stylo noir. Dites-le-lui.

Past tense:
Pick up the paper that Joe put on the table. Write your name in the
circle that Anna drew.

Copy the picture that Mike will draw.
Point to the box that I will touch.
I will open the envelope that you will choose.

Other structures:
Donne ce stylo a' la fille a' cote' de la fenetre. Donne ce stylo au
garcon pres de la porte. Then:
A qui est-ce que tu as donne le stylo? Au garcon ou a la fille? -- A la

You do have to get beyond the point where all they do is perform
commands. They need to have a chance to answer, too. The commands serve
as a super-visual aid.

Mary Young


97/09 From-> Deby Doloff
Subject: Re: TPR

I have done TPR with many different ages. It is extremely successful
with young kids. When they turn into teenagers, it is more difficult
because they are self conscious. With adults, it's almost impossible.
They don't want to get out of their seats. Anyway, there are ways.

TPR means moving your body in some way. You could do it sitting down.
Asher has colorform kits that he uses. I've used these and they work
well. You could also have a kit made out of paper -- one for each
student. For example, a copy of a picture of a farm and pictures of
animals which students could cut out or which you cut out in rough
squares. Then you could give commands to place the animal somewhere in
the picture -- Put the cow in the barn. Put the chicken on top of the
cow. Etc. I've also had students make their own small clocks using those
brass paper connectors to hold the hands on the clock.

Then we practice telling time. I say the time and they hold up the clock
or another student gives the time for everyone to put on the clock. All
you need to do is use your imagination. Not every TPR command has to be
stand up, sit down, put your finger on your nose. You could have them
design a character, color it and laminate it. This character could jump
onto the students head in front of them, could dance on their science
book, could ride the bull in the farm picture, etc. That way they don't
leave their seats but their body is still moving to respond to the
vocabulary. Good luck!

Deby Doloff


97/09 From-> "James C. May" <>
Subject: TPR success

I have finished 3 weeks of TPR and gave a test on Friday. The results
were fantastic; 96% got 80 and above; of those 65% scored 100. Only 4%
scored below 80 and those are students who are absent a lot. What I
really thought was interesting though were the comments I asked them to
write (without their name). Only 1 student said she didn't like it
because "she hates learning of any kind." It's going to be hard to
motivate her :) !

Two students said they would like it more if I didn't give homework! But
the rest of the comments were positive, i.e.: "I really like the way you
teach," "I hope you keep on teaching this way," "Keep up the good work,"
"It's fun to learn in here," "I learned more in 2 weeks of Spanish than
in 2 years of Japanese," "The words just soak into my head," among
others. I have always used TPR in the past the first two days of school
and then went straight to the book because to be honest it was easier to
do that. Everyone expects to learn from a book and nothing will ever be
questioned. I had planned to go on to TPRS in two weeks, but I have
already been told by my DC that one of the teachers in my department
doesn't like it that I am doing TPR because no one else is and my
students won't know what students learning from the textbook "know."

James C. May

B. Questions, Problems and Responses

94/07 From-> Zev bar-Lev
Subject: TPR

one problem with beginning with TPR in French or Spanish (and other
languages) is a morphological one: students will naturally assume that
the form they hear is the plain or stem form, which is all they know
from english. later, when they begin speaking, they will tend to combine
this form freely, e.g. *je vienez.

if you correct or prevent this creative extension, you are working
against the natural creativity of learners. they probably won't object
-- but they will pull back on their creativity to be safer. this means
that they will be better comprehenders than speakers.

for this reason i use and recommend starting with giving students the
means to speak creatively. the sequence is rather complex in the
beginning, but it does encourage creative involvement in speaking, as
well as a high degree of participation in class.

the first step is: teaching "please" and a small number (at first only
3-4) food words (of masc. gender only in French and Spanish, to avoid
later problems with gender). they can soon play "noisy restaurant",
shouting orders for anything they can, and learning a high degree of
confidence. these students don't have any problem later getting up and
speaking in front of the class or to a stranger! several lessons of
noisy restaurant are useful, then a sequence of other steps follows.

Zev bar-Lev


94/07 From-> "Cynthia K. Gerstl" <>
Subject: TPR, etc.

I would also like more information on Zev's strategies.

I would like to get back, also, to the TPR question. I have not found
that my students have combined the 'venez' form freely, as Zev suggests.
I have never heard any of my students say "je vienez'. Perhaps it has to
do with the way I implement TPR.

I would be interested in hearing from anyone who has experienced what
Zev feels would happen. What was the context? How was the TPR presented?

Cindy Gerstl


94/08 From->
Subject: TPR ???

i was sort of waiting to see if anyone would take up the question of
whether "je venez" results from TPR. but it's been a whole day: i can't
wait any longer to comment in more detail.

it all depends on many factors, of course. if you use the familiar
imperative, then of course there is no tendency to say "je venez" --
altho of course there is a tendency to say "je va".

or, if you always act out "I" forms while saying them along with
commands, then of course you will teach both forms at once. and of
course students will get used to wondering what the "other" form of any
verb they learn is. (this, to my mind at least, is not an unambiguous
benefit, altho it may seem like one to some teachers.)

in any case, the details in spanish are of course quite different.

but a general principle remains: how to teach the multiplicity of forms
AND how to teach the language communicatively. in languages like English
in which the imperative is the base form, there is no big deal. in other
languages, the problem is (1) which form to begin with, and (2) how to
introduce other forms.

i have two reservations about TPR, at least as the main method for
initial lessons: (1) it puts main focus on the imperative, which
(depending on the language and other considerations) may be a problem.

but (2), TPR can also engender passivity vis-a-vis speaking, because (i
believe) students must sooner or later speak -- indeed speaking is
probably their major skill-goal. and whenever they begin to speak, they
must overcome psychological as well as structural hurdles.

Zev bar-Lev


95/03 From-> Zev bar-Lev <>
Subject: defense of my complaint about TPR

Thanks to those who disagreed with my position on TPR (namely that it
encourages overgeneralization of imperative-forms, unless some other
artificiality is introduced, such as discouraging speaking). Responding
to these disagreements:

It is perfectly true that TPR can teach much more than the imperative.
My complaint was also about the artificiality of doing so -- which i
think the disagreeing examples show!

E.g. "Mary, while John is writing his name, you stand up and count to
10" is quite a complicated structure. Is this how the full present tense
is taught? How long is it before you can use such examples -- and
furthermore use them in sufficient abundance to provide examples of the
full present tense? Do you do this all on the first day? Or does it take
a week or so? Or far more? (I'd be interested to know.)

However long it takes, are students not talking at all meanwhile? If
they are not, I think (heretically, no doubt) that they are learning to
be all too passive in the L2. I also think that, if they are being
bombarded (no matter how gently) with such a variety of forms --
imperatives and various persons of the present all at the same time --
this very barrage will either confuse them, or confirm them in their
quiet passivity.

And if they do talk, what forms will they use? Will they not
overgeneralize anything? (That would be remarkable!) Or it is believed
that their mistakes will wash out? (I believe that student confusion
about forms can, indeed must, lead to errors, and that not all errors
are washed out by input; on the contrary, many could fossilize within
the limited time of a FL classroom. Much acquisition theory either
denies much of what I'm saying, or ignores the problem, but that's

(Again I'd be interested in what happens in real classrooms, TPR and
others, which obviously exhibit a wide variety of all sorts of
strategies and reactions. The broadest question is, is acquisition
happening in the classroom? If it is, how are teachers managing the
errors that are a part of acquisition? Or have some teachers discovered
some technique whereby errors are by-passed? I am not being sarcastic: I
do think -- as my original comments presuppose -- that curriculum,
including curricular order, affects accuracy.)

Zev bar-Lev


95/03 From-> Marilyn Barrueta
Subject: Re: defense of my complaint about TPR

According to Zev bar-Lev:
>(Again I'd be interested in what happens in real classrooms, TPR and others,
>which obviously exhibit a wide variety of all sorts of strategies and reactions.
>The broadest question is, is acquisition happening in the classroom? If it is,
>how are teachers managing the errors that are a part of acquisition? Or have
>some teachers discovered some technique whereby errors are by-passed? I am
>not being sarcastic: I do think -- as my original comments presuppose -- that
>curriculum, including curricular order, affects accuracy.)
>Thanks again, Zev

Zev -- With regard to your last paragraph in particular -- I posted a
request for any suggestions on how to deal with a student who, after
years of immersion class, uses only the "you familiar" preterite form of
virtually every verb, regardless. He himself is aware of the problem,
and wishes to improve, but is finding it VERY hard to do so after so
long of not having anything done to correct this. It's actually rather
bizarre listening to him say the strangest things quite "fluently"!

Although I, too, believe there is fossilization, have to state that Bill
Van Patten (U. Illinois) stated at the fall AATSP session that it does
not occur -- according to him, and I believe I understood him correctly,
that even when you have older people who have been making the same L2
errors for years, they are still just in a phase, which presumably, if
they lived long enough (150?), they would correct. If anyone knows Bill
or feels I am not accurately reporting, please correct!

Marilyn Barrueta


95/03 From-> Todd McKay <>
Subject: Re: defense of my complaint about TPR

With all due respect (since you do like to explain your views). You
really should look into the TPR approach more carefully to fully
understand its benefits and to argue its shortcomings. You asked in your
defense "Is this how the full present tense is taught? How long is it
before you can use such examples".

The answer, in short , is that this isn't how the present is always
introduced and taught in the classic TPR approach. Many instructors
choose to move from the imperative to asking simple present tense
questions like, "Is Sue touching the ball?", where students can answer
in short by responding "yes" or "no" while fully understanding the
question and transparently learning the tense. This is much the way
young children learn L1, by means of command oriented input requiring
ACTIVE (not passive as you see it) physical response. This does take
time, it doesn't happen overnight as we're all aware. For some students,
it takes a relatively short period of time, while others need more time.
Which leads to my last point, that of your term "artificiality".

We, as language teachers, are attempting to aid students in their
language acquisition in classroom settings which are inherently
"artificial", as opposed to being in an actual country where
language/culture constantly surrounds individuals. I feel I can speak on
behalf of some of my colleagues by stating that the TPR method is one
more effective (check the research that's been done) means of involving
students in this process we love so much -- language acquisition and
learning. I hope some of this is helpful.

Thanks for your interest. --
Todd :)


95/03 From->
Subject: Re: defense of my complaint about TPR

Regarding the fossilization of errors:

I had a student teacher, who had even lived in Sevilla, who had always
"gotten by" with his language and considered himself fluent.
Unfortunately, while he might be considered to have had some level of
proficiency, it was not at all adequate. It wasn't that he made errors
in his speech (because we ALL do that, even in L1), but that he could
not hear his own errors nor the errors of my students because he had no
clue to the rules (grammar) of the language. There were too many times
when my Level III kids had to correct him.

At the point he tried to make improvements, he was unable to because so
much of what he had to do was to unlearn errors which were undoubtedly
repeated hundreds of times. After eight long weeks, the college
supervisor and I had the unenviable task of terminating his student

I believe in error correction in most cases, except in spontaneous
speech (It's rude to interrupt, but I will rephrase correctly) and pair
dialogues. In teacher directed developmental activities, I correct and
make the kids repeat the corrected version.

Bill Heller


95/03 From-> Zev bar-Lev <>
Subject: Re: defense of my complaint ...

Using yes-no questions (alongside commands) as a way to emphasize the
indicative 3rd person strikes me as a *wonderful* way to overcome the
bias (that I perceive in TPR) towards imperatives. Still, however, this
means presenting students with multiple forms of single words from the
first moments of their study, which (IMHO) confuses and intimidates
some. (And the physical interaction still emphasizes the imperative:
Wasn't the power of physicality the rationale of TPR?)

Thanks to Marilyn for reminding us that fossilization is a real problem.
(I would only add: ... along with fear and confusion.) While all
fossilization can't be blamed on early confusion from multiple or
non-optimal forms of words, why shouldn't we do all we can? Of course
attitude and need are important -- but we can hardly seriously accept
the idea that someone who has been using a form for a few decades might
subsequently stop using it. Why not help by presenting a more carefully
controlled linguistic environment? (van Patten has also argued for "one
form at a time -- although not in as extreme a form as I have argued

Zev bar-Lev


From: Donald Webb <>
Subject: Crawling and walking

>[...] Many students do want there to be easy-to-remember rules of thumb
>for figuring out how to fill-in those blanks, preferably without actually
>having to read and comprehend the entire sentence.

I suspect that students -- which we've all been or perhaps still are --
are essentially economical: if they do the job, they'll do what's
necessary to finish it. If they define the job as filling in blanks,
they'll take the path of least resistance.

The teacher's objective, then, would be to make it necessary and
presumably worthwhile to comprehend the entire sentence. What that
implies for filling in blanks, I'm not sure; I imagine that under some
circumstances they can be useful.

Exceptionally motivated and creative students may redefine tasks more
broadly than the assignment calls for, but it's not something one can
expect as a matter of course.

>But you can't speak a language by processing rules on a conscious level.
>The human brain just isn't built that way.

True enough, and I would add that one must be a novice before becoming
an expert, crawl before learning to walk. That involves learning the
rules and practicing them. To play chess, one must learn first how to
move the pieces, including such "exceptions" as pawns' taking _en
passant_ and castling; in strategy, which endgames are winnable and
which aren't; in tactics, things like forks and pins... in short, the
elementary and advanced "grammar" of the game.

But even intermediate players, like language speakers, can't and don't
think in terms of rules as they affect isolated pieces on the chessboard
or words in a sentence: they see the situation as a whole and process
possibilities subconsciously. The same can be said for any other skill,
I'm sure, be it playing golf, piloting a plane, doing carpentry or
driving a car. Pilots don't think of themselves as flying a plane so
much as flying; drivers, not as driving a car, but as driving. But they
all had to start with rules and with practice.

And mistakes become a very valuable tool in learning. Except that in
chess their nature and consequences are usually much more immediately
obvious than in language learning. The important thing is not to expect
too much, too soon: attempting to have students imitate intermediate or
advanced skills at the novice level will only lead to mistakes that
might be avoided by proceeding more systematically and with more

Donald Webb


97/09 From-> JESSICA R MEISNER <>

I have effectively used the TPR technique in my elementary classrooms.
After this year I will be teaching French, German and Spanish in the
secondary classroom. Does anyone use this technique in the secondary
classroom? Can it work there? I ask because I really liked using this
method with my kids and they responded well to it. They learned so
quickly. If you have any ideas as to how to apply this approach in the
secondary classroom, please let me know. I really have had no experience
with it with kids at this age level. Thanks......

Jessica Meisner

C. Things You Do in TPR

From:         Jo Benn <BENNJ@TEN-NASH.TEN.K12.TN.US>
Subject:      Re: Communicative versus Grammar?   TPR

Zev bar-Lev expressed the concern that if students are taught using TPR,
they will not learn the appropriate forms of the verb for first person (and
I assume third person) but will generalize and use the imperative form
across the board.  I am a French teacher, but understand this would be even
more of a problem in Spanish because the subjunctive is used for
imperative.  It should not be a problem because all tenses and persons can
be introduced using TPR methods.  When you say "John, go to the board and
write your name.  Mary, while John is writing his name, you stand up and
count to 10.  Paul, when Mary has finished counting, tell her to sit
down,"the students are expose to various tenses and forms.  These are silly
examples that I made up quickly and of course, you need to organized and
introduce forms in appropriate sequence.  TPR is much more complex and does
so much more than teach the imperative!
My two cents...
Jo Benn
Harpeth Hall School

95/03 From-> Joyce L Szewczynski <>
Subject: Re: defense of my complaint about TPR

I've been looking at the authenticity of the tasks/activities I ask my
students to do. I've also asked my student teachers to think in
"authentic" terms. For example, one of my student teachers in Italian
did a great lesson on food/ menus etc. and is having her students create
their own menu. We talked about why the students should do this. No
matter how much fun it may be (and that certainly is important), if it's
lacking an authentic aspect, then the sole purpose of doing the activity
is to please the teacher. So we thought of what people in the "real"
world do with menus. Answer---use them in restaurants. So, my student
teacher is going to call an Italian restaurant in the town and ask if
these student- generated menus can be displayed there. She thought that
her first year students - mostly high school freshmen would get a kick
out of that.

Another quick example...writing letters. What purpose does it serve for
students to write a letter and never send it any where? Putting students
in contact with native speakers in as many ways as we can so that
communication can happen is one of the best answers to the "why bother"

Joyce Szewczynski


96/01 From-> "Terri L. Wilbanks" <>
Subject: Re: Seeking comments on TPR

I teach beginning Spanish at the college level and I like to use TPR
from the beginning. I teach the commands by demonstrating what I want by
using the present tense and then using the command forms with my
students. ( I sit down. I stand up. Then I motion and say "Sit down",
"Stand up".) The verbs may be in different tenses but students recognize
them and since they can watch each other for confirmation, they feel at
ease. We even play "Simon dice" at this level and they enjoy it! I was
most surprised when a 70 year old auditor of the course was joined by
her husband one class and she told him in the correct form to come in
and sit down! Charades works well when introducing new verbs. I print
the verb on a card and the students act it out and their classmates have
to guess what they are doing.

Terri L. Wilbanks


96/01 From-> TODD B BOWEN <>
Subject: Re: Seeking comments on TPR

We use TPR in all beginning classes (Latin may be an exception....) to
introduce listening to the language for meaning, introduce some basic
vocab and skills that will be used throughout the language study. Those
skills are recycled by some teachers during the year or in other levels.
Some skills become routine (go to the board, open your books, etc.).
Passive skills obtained via TPR become active later (vocab primarily)
even in successive years of learning. We find TPR to be an essential
part of the learning process.

Todd Bowen


96/01 From-> James May <>
Subject: Re: Seeking comments on TPR

 I give commands to students just starting an FL. I then throughout the
year introduce concrete vocabulary, i.e. using children's clothes
cheaply available at thrift shops. First, I tell what the clothing is,
then I do a forced choice (Is this a dress or a shirt?). I then give
articles to class members (Who has the dress? What does Andrew have?
Lisa, find the socks and give them to Scott, etc.) As a follow-up, I
usually give them a drawing quiz in the FL of the items taught to make
sure students have been paying attention. They don't have to label
anything; they just draw what I describe in the FL.

As has already been noted, too much of it can be boring for both teacher
and student, but it is a great teaching tool to have in your bag of

James May


96/01 From-> Cynthia Morefield <>
Subject: Re: TPR

I find TPR very useful to teach action verbs. I find this very "real
life " as the students cannot be taken to a lake to just learn the verb
"to swim". Through TPR I can show them and they can feel the action as
opposed to saying "nadar is to swim". The students also take
responsibility for their learning by teaching the others the actions as
I say them. I find that they are more comfortable in class as TPR really
lowers anxiety. Although I feel that relying on one method would deprive
students of different learning styles, so it, as stated by some one
earlier, is only one thing in my bag of tricks.

Cynthia Morefield


96/08 From-> Dawn Smith <>
Subject: TPR with large groups in small rooms

This subject became important to me last year when my Spanish I classes
jumped from a 15 student average to 31 in one class and 25 in the other.
Here's what I did.

I started out the year with the first few TPR lessons from Voces y
Vistas (Scott Foresman) to get them going. Then I switched to mostly
things that they could do standing behind their desks with the whole
group responding. I found the following commands worked quite well:
stand, sit, touch, point to (everything from school items to a girl with
red hair, or wearing pink socks), put, lift, jump, and turn around.
Touch and point were particularly effective and can be used in
combination with almost any noun or adjective.

For instance I used a set of paper plates, cups and silverware for each
student to teach both table settings and prepositions of place. (Put the
cup under the plate.)

To teach colors and numbers, I use a class set of 2" x 3" cards. Each
set consists of one card for each number 0-9. Each number is a different
color. (all ones are blue, all twos are red, etc...) I made the cards
from construction paper and laminated them. I've used the same set for 5
years now. I used chalk to write the number on the black cards. To teach
numbers, I use the commands touch three, raise three, put three under
four, etc... For colors I use similar commands and add oral practice.
(What number is red?)

Dawn Smith


96/08 From-> Nilsa Sotomayor  <>
Subject: Re: TPR with large groups in small rooms

After I came back from a seminar with Dr. Asher, I began incorporating
TPR (Total Physical Response) in my classes. I do not give my students
their books until they have had at least 2 weeks of just TPR. With my
Spanish 2,3 and yes 4 students I review TPR commands, and they follow
commands given by me and their peers.

In order to do TPR in large groups you must teach them in small groups.
Once they can all follow the basic commands, I then do it in large
groups. For example, I have si/no paddles for each student. I will ask
questions on the vocabulary (Es un libro?) They show me the appropriate
side of the paddles. (paper plate with a popsicle stick taped to the
bottom. Write si on one side and no on the other.)

You can do the same with clocks. (I made mine with paper plates) Each
student has one and responds to my statement on the time. (Son las diez
y cuarto)

I have laminated shapes of different colors and shapes. I hand them out
so that each student has 4-5 shapes. I then say: Enseneme el triangulo
rojo grande. The student who has it will show it to me by raising it. OR
Tire el circulo verde pequeno. etc.

Nilsa Sotomayor


96/11 From-> Nilsa Sotomayor

I use TPR quite a lot. In fact my Spanish 1 students do not see their
textbooks until after the first month of school is over. We use TPR the
whole time. After they get their books, I incorporate it as much as I
can. I still use it with the other levels. I'm really busy today, but I
would love to share some ideas with you. For example, how I do my
lessons and what "props" and realia I use. Hey, I use anything from
Barbie dolls to real fruit!!

Nilsa Sotomayor


96/11 From-> Nilsa Sotomayer

A workshop by Dr. James Asher changed my way of teaching dramatically. I
felt guilty  because my students had not enjoyed this method. I enjoy
using various teaching techniques in my classroom, and TPR is one of the
best. With TPR, I have found that not only am I able to use it with
beginners, I can also incorporate it with my intermediate and advanced

The basic idea (and there IS a lot more to this) is that we should try
to duplicate how we learned our L1 to learn L2. You begin by introducing
the students to basic commands. I begin the school year by informing the
parents what I'll be doing with there children. The first day of school
I briefly explain to the students that they will not be using their
books till later. Then I tell them that by the end of the class that
day, they will be able to understand 8 commands!

They never believe me--but they always end up understanding the
commands. With Spanish 1, I do TPR for a month and a half before giving
them their textbooks.

Now I use a lot of props, pictures, Barbie Dolls, etc. I use index cards
where I write down all the commands for the particular lesson, examples
of different commands, props needed, vocabulary introduced, etc. The
first you use TPR, you'll need to buy, make, or borrow (from your kids!)
your materials. After that , I keep all my lessons on index cards (so I
can move around while I'm giving commands), and all the props labeled in
plastic boxes.

The following are the first commands I teach: Stand up
turn around
point to the door, the table

You first show 3-4 volunteers. Place 5 chairs in a row at the front of
the class. Students sit and so do you. Say the commands and demonstrate.
Then have students do them.
Then call on students 3 at a time so that they are never up alone. TIP:
I always have index cards for every student with their names on them.
That way I know I'll call on all of them randomly. I use these cards to
record there participation in class. I also have the day's lesson on
index cards. I use the neon color. I use a different color for every
class. Well I need to go. I will continue tomorrow or Saturday. :-)

Nilsa Sotomayer


97/04 From-> Mike Miller <>
Subject: Re: TPR Strategies

Yes, I have a neat idea. This has been done before, but I'm trying it
for the first time. Once a week I give my students 10-15 minutes of
silent reading in the TL. I have assembled some "cool stuff" including
some of the FL magazines for American students out there (there are
several companies). Students choose whatever they like to read and
simply write down 3 or 4 things that they learned. . . usually new words
which they try to guess from the context (I love that-they're usually
right on, too) or perhaps cultural tidbits. They turn in this paper and
I give them some points (I haven't yet worked out a good system for
that. . .I want them to spend their time reading; not writing. Still,
the students are so excited to write down all the words they found that
it is common to see 20 words on each paper). I don't have any measurable
results yet, but the students enjoy the exploring, I get 15 minutes to
do whatever I need to do, and students pick up words that I don't even
know, so I end up learning from their reading. That's PSC (purdy
stinkin' cool).

Mike Miller


97/08 From-> Richard Snyder <>
Subject: Re: FrI/first week/80minute block/HELP

I play a game on block day (90 minutes) and try to read or have some fun
halfway through. I am doing TPR this year (exclusively--it is the
best!) and found the block time helpful. My 2nd year played a game,
learned new words, and updated their pictoral dictionaries. My first
year (this is both German) played the same game and just learned new
words. Had a good time. I also give a short break in the middle, mainly
for my sanity! If you can do WWW at your school, this would be a good
day to do some exploration. Those French sites look great!

Richard Snyder


97/08 From-> Gustavo Benedetti <Gbenedetti@MOELLER.ORG>
Subject: Re: All by myself

Megan, about your commands.
It is obvious that the time you spend is based on the amount of commands
you have in mind. Actually, I give commands to my Spanish I class the
second day of school and the activity takes some 20 minutes. I have 21
different commands which I do not expect students to learn them all
immediately. (By the way, I assign Spanish names to students before
giving them any commands. This way I have a better chance to make my
class a friendly environment for students when trying to verbalize their
first encounter with the TL) I project the list of commands (in Spanish)
through the overhead projector and read the words or sentences. During
this, I use every possible hand signal that I can imagine in order to
help my students discover the meanings.

This kind of approach is very easy to do. MOVE around the classroom as
much as possible. One of the first commands that I teach is "how do you
say it?" from which I can move very easy from command to command and
without the use of the first language. After the introduction by
listening, I make students repeat the sounds and do a TPR session in
which all class has to respond. Finally, and after students have written
the commands, they, organized by partners or in groups of three, will
do a TPR class activity with the use of commands. Be aware that the
class atmosphere will be noisy but productive. It has worked in my

Gustavo Benedetti


97/08 From-> Jeff Amdur <>
Subject: Re: TPR

I tend to use TPR activities also as "memorization" aids, such as
"preposition calisthenics", where I have a set series of gestures
associated with common spatial prepositions (both French and Spanish),
and the students go through the exercises as I blurt out "devant!",
"autour de!" "dans!", etc. My colleague who teaches AP Spanish V never
fails to note that his mention of certain prepositions to the students
in those classes still elicit those "calisthenic" responses in those
students that had me for Spanish II way back in their freshman year.

Another strange thing I do is the "future tense cheer", where I have the
students (sometimes sitting, sometimes standings) act as cheerleaders as
they blurt out the future tense endings. The purpose of this is to
ensure that the students remember that the endings are added to the
infinitive and that the "r" sound always precedes the endings:

Spanish: ¡RÉ! ¡RÁS! ¡RÁ! ¡RE-MOS! ¡RÁN!

(my apologies if those Spanish exclamation points and accent marks
didn't show up on some people's screens. I assume that my fellow Mac
people at least could read the accents if they're not on a UNIX screen)

Jeff Amdur


97/08 From-> Dana Thacker <>
Subject: Re: All by myself

DO the TPR! Allow them to copy the words afterwards, but do NOT do the
conjugations… you will lose them... Write a script for your TPR. Try to
get at least 2 other activities "just in case"...Oh, and take your

Dana Thacker


97/09 From-> Sue Alice Shay <>
Subject: Re: ISO TPR ideas

Any verb which could be acted out is great for TPR.

Me gusta el tennis--can be dramatized or at least kids can do the
motions with hands
Me gusta el beisbol.

Sometimes we have played charades. Put slips of paper with the verb on
it or the phrase. One kid acts out, others have to guess.

Sue Alice Shay

D. Creating a “Natural” FL Environment

95/03 From-> Ania Lian <>
Subject: Re: defense of my complaint about TPR

>>.. We, as language teachers, are attempting to aid students in their language
>acquisition in classroom settings which are inherently "artificial", as opposed
>to being in an actual country where language/culture constantly surrounds
>individuals. I feel I can speak on behalf of some of my colleagues by stating
>that the TPR method is one more effective  means of involving students in this
>process we love so much -- language acquisition and learning.

A very important distinction was made here i.e. that of the classroom
and the "natural learning". If the "natural" means environment where
language is used and if teachers' goal is to help then why not to create
an environment where language is used in its cultural and whichever
natural context?

This posting recalled children acquisition. The most important thing
about it is that they learn not in the classroom filled with teachers
referring to the descriptive rules of *the language learnt* but in an
environment where language is used.

I think that in the world of technology creating such an environment
should not be too difficult. In fact, the possibility of offering
students help in their learning offers an advantage over the really
natural learning which often results in a pidgin form of the language
learnt in spite of the 20 , 40 yr long exposure.

So the issue would be how to design such a "natural" environment which
would offer the opportunity learn L2 in its natural context and which
pedagogically would cater for awareness raising, learning autonomy
development and which would help students feel that they achieve when
they achieve.

Ania Lian


95/03 From-> Laura Kimoto <kimotol@uhunix.uhcc.Hawaii.Edu>
Subject: Real-life Imbedded TPR

Dear Everyone,

I for one enjoy using TPR as a teacher and as a learner of another
language. A variation of this is the reading action chain in which
students pick up slips of paper that say, "After someone has said
'begin,' clap your hands three times." "After someone has clapped their
hands three times, meow like a cat." etc. etc. Students pick the slips
of paper at random so they don't now who will do what, when.

However, I've always wondered where the contrived context and silliness
in 'put your book on John's head ...' fits in language acquisition. I
mean, children as well as adults can enjoy such a class, but they may
just see it as 'playing around' and not really serious learning of
another language. In other words, they will leave the classroom and not
try to apply what they learned in that funny context to the real-world

I've experienced for myself and observed TPR in how we learn our first
language and usually such commands as "bring me your cup" is highly
contextualized and said *with a purpose*. In one example, a mother asked
her daughter if she wanted more juice, the two-year-old daughter nodded
yes and therefore the mother said, "bring me your cup." The daughter
dropped her cup by mistake so the mother said, "Oh, pick it up." etc.
etc. And this purpose in giving such commands was to communicate and not
just to expose the listener to many different verb tenses, vocabulary,
or prepositions.

I would think that a more contextualized way of using TPR would be to do
a cooking demonstration (could be with gestures) in which the teacher
explains the steps to the recipe and students follow along. Or, (for
Japanese) where the teacher explains how to do origami (paper-folding).

What do you think? And does anyone have more examples of real-life
imbedded TPR?

Laura Kimoto

E. TPR as Complementary to Other Methods

94/07 From-> "Cynthia K. Gerstl" <>
Subject: TPR

I fully agree with "Pete" Brooks ideas for beginning French and Spanish.
TPR is a great way to begin the school year -- and it doesn't make any
difference whether your students are children or adults. It works with

There are several really good books out on TPR, both theoretical and
practical- in several languages. They are good guides to start with
--although you could use TPR w/o any text -- by having the students play
"Simple Simon" type games. But if you want to do more with TPR, more
intense grammar, greater amount of vocabulary -- Bertha Segal has a
number of really great books out.

Cindy Gerstl


95/03 From->
Subject: Re: TPR

TPR is valuable as one method practiced several minutes a day,
especially at the beginning levels to train the kids ears to pick out
the gist of an utterance at natural speed. It is also good to promote
active learning. It is also valuable in teaching body parts and clothes

Any technique can be overused and lose its effectiveness. There are so
many good techniques that effectively address the many and diverse
skills of language acquisition that for a teacher to select only one
approach is a grave mistake. There are plenty of active learning
activities other than TPR which promote student participation and

I value FLTeach in that it gives teachers an opportunity to share
successful ideas from varied sources so that I can have a huge banquet
table of effective techniques to nourish my students in the unique
setting in which I teach. Keep those cards and letters coming!!!

Bill Heller


95/03 From-> Dr. Madeline Ehrman <>
Subject: Re: defense of my complaint about TPR

This is a response to Jeff Barnett's message about TPR, in which he (in
my opinion) sensibly pointed out that TPR is complementary with other
approaches and methods, not exclusive of them. In the mid-eighties, I
worked with a team of Turkish language teachers at FSI to design a
delayed production introduction to our Turkish course of 23 or 44 weeks,
full-time intensive.

This intro. phase ended up being a week long. It included a wide range
of activities, and TPR-type things played an important role. But they
were part of a mix of a variety of activities, the purpose of which was
to provide a kind of low- anxiety, shallow-end-of-the-pool entry into
Turkish. Seemed to work well in tandem with other things--the goals of
the training were more important that (sorry--than) the purity of method
and choices were made as our purposes indicated a need.

Madeline Ehrman


96/01 From-> Dorcas Herr <>
Subject: Re: Seeking comments on TPR

I use TPR as one aspect of my overall program. Most of my students love
it, a few don't. I teach 1st and 2nd year in the community college. It
is not required, but it's fun and effective. It seems to address the
needs of students who sometimes have difficulty with other methods. If
you would like more specific information, send me an email.

Dorcas Herr


96/01 From-> Bill Heller <>
Subject: Re: Seeking comments on TPR

TPR is one of many tricks that a good world language teacher should have
in his/her bag of tricks. It is especially good for teaching body parts,
classroom objects, and prepositions of place. I've also used it to teach
place settings.

It you do just TPR it gets boring for the teacher and the students. I
combine it with lots of other techniques to make a complete program.

TPR does help develop an ear for the language in the students. They seem
to learn how to run with a flow of language to pick out the key stuff
and not bog down when they hear a word that they've never heard before.

Overall, it's a helpful teaching technique, not a religion. Peace,

Bill Heller


96/01 From-> "Joseph J. Goebel Jr." <JJGOEBEL@VM.TEMPLE.EDU>
Subject: Re: Seeking comments on TPR

We use TPR in our basic Spanish 1,2,3 classes (Como se dice) as well as
in our intensive, one-semester immersion program (Dos Mundos). The
college students appear to thoroughly enjoy it. We use it a great deal
during the first few weeks of classes because it allows the students to
show that they understand without trying to respond orally. This builds
their confidence and helps them to see that learning a foreign language
doesn't have to be boring, dull, or difficult. TPR also involves the
students more actively in the classroom experience. I would highly
recommend it as one technique in a teacher's " bag of tricks!"

Joseph J. Goebel J.

F. TPRS Specifically

97/03 From-> Julianne Baird <>
Subject: Re: TPR Storytelling video

There is still a lot of confusion concerning Blaine Ray's Storytelling
technique. I'd like to explain how it works, but I have to insist that
reading about it is a lot different than seeing it. I would never have
tried it if I just read how the method works. Fortunately I was first
introduced to the method by someone who attended a TPR workshop. She was
having phenomenal success with her students that I tried it and I am so
glad that I did.

Here's the method in a nutshell. (The basics but still lengthy)

Blaine Ray started developing this method after years of being
frustrated with TPR. TPR worked great for the first month of the school
year, but then it just ends. He wanted to figure out how to move kids
from hearing the language and responding to having the students speak in
the language, generating their own sentences. He noticed that students
learned the vocab much quicker and internalized it more through TPR than
through vocab lists and exercises in the book.

After 4-6 weeks of classical TPR, the kids move toward using the
language themselves, by using Blaine Ray's Storytelling method. He has
short mini-stories that are funny, cute and stupid. The kids first learn
the vocab for the story by using Hand TPR. American Sign Language works
well for this, but you can also create your own signs. He goes through
the vocab and has the kids perform the sign as he says the word. He
teaches words in group of 3. Three new words at a time with lots of

After the kids learn the vocab, he tells them the story. He retells the
story several times - always with a slightly different explanation. The
story stays the same, but he might add more adjectives, more
description, etc. The slower students need to hear the story several
times to get the plot. The brighter kids will get it the first time, so
embellishing it each time you tell it, keeps their attention and
sharpens their listening skills.

The next step is to retell the story with mistakes so the students will
correct you (in the target language of course) or ask questions about
the story.

After that, the students work with a partner to retell the story. First
they work quietly at their desks and then some of the students will
retell the story in front of the class. The fluency that even first year
kids demonstrate when retelling a story is incredible.

There are usually two additional versions to the story that the kids can
tell. But the best part of the whole process is that the kids get to
compose their own stories with the vocab that they have learned in the
current story. The kids become quite creative and come up with really
good stories all in the target language.

While the students are telling their stories or composing their own
stories, they do not have any vocab sheets or written sentences in front
of them. There can see the pictures of the stories, but there are no
words. The kids retell the stories and make up their own using the
dictionaries they have created in their minds.

It is a very powerful teaching method because it gets students away from
staring at papers to talk and they remember the vocabulary so well. My
second year students who started this method in the middle of last year
can talk better than my fourth year students who just started this
method this year. My second year students speak more, speak faster and
use more advanced constructions than any of my other classes. It is
really amazing.

I hope this explanation helped. It is a rough outline of how to do the
storytelling technique. If you have any questions, please write back.
I'd be glad to answer any questions I can. I am not an expert on
Storytelling, just one very enthusiastic teacher who has seen the
difference this method makes in getting students to speak more (write
more, understand more, etc.)

Julianne Baird


97/03 From-> Georgette Blemker <>
Subject: Re: Question re: TPR Storytelling

I am sure Julie will tell you that teaching this way INSTEAD of using
the regular text is the way Blaine Ray promotes his method and it
probably is the best way. At my school, I have to use the regular text
book but I sneak in as many stories as I can. This year so far I have
done three. While this may not be ideal, it really is beneficial. The
kids talk more, they communicate more about every day stuff. I only
started this last year with what is now my second year class. Even when
we are using the text book, their skills from story telling carry over
into everything else. And it is a great motivator. They often ask when
we are going to do another story. So, even if you can’t devote all your
time to story telling, give it a try!..........



97/03 From-> Julianne Baird <>
Subject: Re: Storytelling

Since this is my first year with Storytelling, I do a story and then a
chapter in the text and alternate back and forth. Of course we aren't
getting very far in the book, but my students are doing a great job
remembering and using the vocab that they learn in the stories much more
than the vocab they learn through the book. Some people who have used
the method before abandoned their books, because they kids were learning
more with the stories. Grammar is taught indirectly with storytelling.
You don't concentrate on it, you just put it into the story and the kids
hear it over and over until it sticks.

Others on the list might being using storytelling exclusively, but I am
alternating with the book. So are the others in my department.

Julianne Baird


97/03 From-> Lewis Johnson <>
Subject: Re: Question re: TPR Storytelling

Julianne gave such a nice explanation of the TPR Storytelling. Blaine
Ray's method goes from story to story that you can use to replace your
textbook. However, its focus is understanding and speaking, and it is
light on reading, writing, and <<grammar.>> If I remember correctly,
Blaine Ray doesn't explicitly teach grammar until students are about to
take the AP test.

However, if your Spanish I students go to Spanish II with a more
traditional teacher, they are going to need to know reading, writing,
and grammar.

A possible solution to this problem would be to add TPR Storytelling to
your text. That is, write your own stories for each chapter to include
functions, vocabulary, grammar, etc. that are taught in your text. They
don't have to be great stories. The students love to listen to and
retell stories that are written at their level or a little above.

About 5 days before I start a chapter in the text, I start teaching the
story using TPR Storytelling. When students have gained understanding
and speaking control of the material, I begin the chapter in the
textbook. They sail through it. The activities are easy because they
already have a substantial control of the material, and they learn
reading, writing, and grammar.

Lewis Johnson


97/04 From-> Elaine Carey  <>
Subject: TPR Storytelling

I am a German teacher who has great energy and does crazy things and
kids generally love my classes, BUT I have been frustrated for years
that it is only the GOOD kids, who seem to have a natural aptitude for
languages, who are truly successful.

This past fall I saw Blaine Ray's workshop for the first time. I was
intrigued and decided to give it a try. i must confess, that although I
found Blaine highly entertaining and inspiring, I (who am terribly
left-brained) found it difficult to figure out how to START. I read a
couple of books (Asher's Learning another Language through actions,
Garcia's Instructor's Notebook and Conte and Seely's TPR is More than
Commands). I also looked at Blaine's TPR video.

I did not like the stories in Blaine's book (Sorry to those who do!) so
I made up my own. I have made mistakes and am still fine-tuning, but I
must say I am FLABBERGASTED by what my students can DO with the language
and how much they remember (even my weaker kids). So far i am only
playing around with this with my German I's, but I plan to make use of
it in all my classes next year, and may even do some in the upper levels
before the end of this schoolyear.

I recently attended a TPR workshop organized by Valeri Marsh , but
actually presented by Carol Gaab. It really helped me put the pieces
together!! Much more sequential presentation than Blaine's workshop
(good for us left-brainers!!) and the demo of the Storytelling technique
was in a non-standard language (I don't want to give it away! :-) ),
which really helped me to see how powerful the technique could be.

Anyway, I don't know if I'll switch exclusively to Storytelling, but I
like what I see so far, and my kids LOVE it and feel very successful.

Elaine Carey


97/04 From-> Julianne Baird <>
Subject: Re: TPR Storytelling

>My question is, how accurate should the re-telling have been? The bare
>details of the story was there in most cases but most of the verb
>tenses, for example, were incorrect, and they rarely used the new words
>that I had pre taught.

I also had this problem with the storytelling, but then I started using
"guide words." These are phrases or clauses that the students need to
use when retelling the story. The guide words usually contain the verb
forms or constructions that can't be translated word for word into the
target language. I let the kids look at these guide words when they are
practicing with their partners, but they are not to use them when I call
on them to tell the story to the class. The use of these guide words
have helped tremendously with fluency and accuracy.

Julianne Baird


97/04 From-> Julianne Baird <>
Subject: Re: TPR Storytelling--re-telling stories

>Do you simply write the TPR stories yourself, or do you have a resource?

In German 1 and 2, I use the story in Blaine Ray's book. Actually in
German 2, I translate the stories from English to German because the
German 2 book is not yet available. In level 3 I took German legends and
rewrote some of the passages but used the basic story from these legends
for our storytelling. German 4 does something all together different not
related to storytelling.

When I did my own (using the legends) I tried to give the kids too much
too fast and it was a disaster for the first legend. The second legend I
broke down into small sections and we eventually learned the entire
legend but not all at one time.

For the legends, I drew the pictures myself. I used to draw only stick
figures, but I have branched out and now draw round figures. The kids
laugh like crazy at my pictures but they remember them and the pictures
really help with the storytelling and getting kids focused.

I hope this helps. If none of it makes sense, let me know and I will try
to explain.

Julianne Baird


97/04 From-> Julianne Baird <>
Subject: Re: TPR Storytelling

 In Elaine Carey's thorough description of Storytelling she wrote,

>but the kids who are not somehow innately language gifted are being more
>successful with Storytelling than anything else I've tried in ten years of teaching.

I attest to this. I use storytelling in my classroom, although not yet
exclusively. I have one 9th grade boy who is NOT gifted in languages. He
is a special needs kid who unfortunately has serious problems in his
home life and all of these factors are negatively affecting his
performance in school. German is one of the few classes he is passing.
The kid is lousy with any sort of book work, but he can talk and he
remembers the vocabulary that we learn through TPR (or Hand TPR since I
no longer have my kids running around the room). Without the
TPR/Storytelling he would just be another lost kid with no hope of
passing the class. However with TPR/Storytelling he answers most of my
questions in German. This Storytelling method is extremely powerful.
More teachers should learn how to teach it.

I also agree with Elaine that it is necessary to see this method in
action. Just watching the tape and reading the book is not enough. If
you can't make it to one of the workshops, find someone in a neighboring
school district and ask them to come demonstrate the method for you. I
learned this way and liked what I saw so much I spent hundreds of
dollars (unreimbursed of course) to fly to Dallas for one of Blaine
Ray's multi-day workshop. It was money well spent and I don't regret a
dime of it. It is really worth it.

Julianne Baird


97/04 From-> Julianne Baird <>
Subject: Re: TPR Strategies

I am very interested in sharing TPR/Storytelling strategies. I have one
that I will start with.

I try to average 3 grades a week in my classes and when we are doing a
story, that is sometimes difficult because the kids learn so well in
class that additional reinforcement (homework) isn't always necessary.
However, I still assign the following and my kids like it.

Once the kids get a list of the vocab words they need to pick out 20
words and do one of the following:

1) Draw that word and label it in German, or
2) describe the word in German, or
3) use the word in a sentence.

My students appreciate the flexibility of the assignment and it really
helps cement the word in their brains.

Julianne Baird


97/04 From-> Michael Kundrat <>
Subject: TPR Strategies

Here's something I do for assessment at the end of a main story. (I use
Blaine Ray's books, BTW, and we currently need two mini-stories before we
get to the "big one") Since the primary focus is on communication, I
certainly want the students to show me they can give a fluent version of
the story. To save time with my larger classes, on "test day" I'll
sometimes randomly split them into pairs or groups (depending on how
quickly I want things to go), then have each group tell the story to the
rest of the class. Within the group, I will switch speakers whenever I
want, so that the next student must just pick up the narration where the
previous speaker ended. It moves very quickly, which then gives me
sufficient time to test the other areas of comprehension and writing.

Something on the mini-stories...I always have the students pair up and
invent their own. This is what really seems to get the vocab
internalized. Each pair then presents to the class...I encourage the use
of props (some do & some don't), and have students from the "audience"
act out the new skit as it's being narrated to show that they
understand, and to show the presenters that their meaning is being

I know a lot of you do these things, but there are many newcomers to
Storytelling who might be able to use the help. I'm saying this to
encourage others to share, rather than thinking you won't bother because
you might be stating the obvious. It might not be so obvious to someone

Michael Kundrat


97/04 From-> Elaine Carey <>
Subject: Re: TPR Storytelling

Dear List: I was curious to test my German I's retention of a story I
taught them back in November, so I retold it to the class and had them
do the TPR motions. So far so good, they had at least retained on a
simple recall level.

So then I did the motions and they chorally said the story back to me. I
had to give occasional prompts, but amazingly few. Then we retold around
the room, i.e. I started at one corner and each kid took a line until we
had retold the entire thing. Virtually flawless. The kids were surprised
themselves at how well they did.

Since the narrative was about a day in the life of a typical girl, and I
felt like the kids needed some practice in the "I" form, I asked the
kids to retell the story as if it were about them. As they dictated I
wrote it on a transparency. It was no big deal for them. they were all
shouting out trying to be the first one to say it.

Please bear in mind that German has these wonderful things called
vowel-change verbs (probably the equivalent of irregular verbs in other
languages). They typically cause students no end of pain. These kids had
no trouble making the manipulations of not only the verb endings but the
internal vowel changes required with many of the verbs in the story.

The remarkable thing is----I had never explicitly taught them this. I
had mentioned it in passing a couple of times and they have heard me
say: "ich laufe" in context and "er/ sie laueft" in context. It appears
that they were able to internalize the changes without getting too
cerebral about it. I frankly was completely floored. Their homework for
tomorrow is to write up a narrative about their own real typical day.
I'll let you know how it goes.

Elaine Carey


97/04 From-> Susan Gross <>
Subject: TPR Storytelling

Yes, I do correct students, but not in a way that discourages fluency.
For example, I may retell a portion of the story with the grammar
corrected. I may use questions which involve using the grammatical
element repeatedly.

Once the students ask about something, (for example gender) I will
briefly explain. I find that more kids start asking about gender after
the ice is broken and it gradually spreads through the class. Something
like gender is difficult for Americans (even teachers goof, so it is no
surprise that kids do, too!) so I let it develop naturally.

Normally the *manner* of correcting has a much more negative impact on
kids than the correction itself. If made to feel inadequate, a student
will simmer with resentment. If the correction is indirect or
supportive, the student feels that s/he is passing through a natural
developmental stage and has no particular anxiety in continuing to use
the language.

The most profound impact of overt correction and explained grammar is
that students become nervous about accuracy. Then they speak with
hesitancy and uncertainty. They write in a hesitant, strained manner
also. TPR Storytelling is a good technique to use for getting students
to speak and write with confidence. I know that some teachers worry
about the "quantity vs. quality" issue, but students who learn language
so that it just starts to "sound right" do as well as or better than
students taught in the "Let's work on getting our contractions right for
the next week" crowd.

Of course if students do not get correct input, nothing works well!

Susan Gross


97/04 From-> "Marilyn V.J. Barrueta" <>
Subject: Re: TPR Storytelling and error correction

>Yes, I do correct students, but not in a way that discourages fluency. For example,
>I may retell a portion of the story with the grammar corrected. I may use questions
>which involve using the grammatical element repeatedly.
>Normally the *manner* of correcting has a much more negative impact on kids
>than the correction itself. If made to feel inadequate, a student will simmer with
>resentment. If the correction is indirect or supportive, the student feels that s/he is
>passing through a natural developmental stage and has no particular anxiety in
>continuing to use the language.
>The most profound impact of overt correction and explained grammar is that
>students become nervous about accuracy.

I agree with most everything Susan says. I would ask what age student
she is dealing with. I think with younger students the indirect method
of rephrasing what they have said correctly or asking questions probably
does have the desired effect. I still have to say, however, that many
years of healing with older teenagers has not left me terribly hopeful
about it as the sole method of correction. It assumes fairly careful
attention to the input, which may or may not be true of less motivated
students. I have a student in 6th year who has also had outside
experience with the language; this student is bright and definitely not
linguistically challenged. She has never, to my knowledge, heard or seen
such constructions as "veo e'l"; on the contrary, she has had constant
input and indirect correction -- but neither shows signs of recognizing
that what she's saying doesn't correspond to the patterns she's heard
and seen, nor of self-correcting. She is by no means an unique case --
just the latest one I heard today!

As in all things, I think it's important to try to strike a balance in
types of correction. I am reminded (sorry, folks, here comes another
memory) of a rather famous professor of linguistics I had in college,
who, confronted with looks of despair and lack of understanding from his
students, used to say (I wish I could reproduce the accent here)"the
light she will come!" There was usually someone muttering in the back,
"Yeah, maybe, but will it come in time for the exam?" For a number of
students, sadly, that's the bottom line, however profoundly I might wish
that we could change that. Unless we change radically our curriculum
goals and measures, or start all students are an early age through the
second language acquisition process, it may be hard to wait until "the
light she comes."

Marilyn Barrueta


97/07 From-> Susan Gross <>
Subject: TPR Storytelling and homework

Jennie Clifton asked about Blaine Ray's TPR Storytelling brochure and
the lack of homework. It is true that Blaine gives almost no homework.
He has found it to be unnecessary. I, on the other hand, *DO* give
homework! And I use TPR Storytelling, also.

I guess the point is that TPR Storytelling will work as a methodology
(it will produce students who speak and write the language in a natural,
meaningful way) even with students and schools where giving homework is
difficult. In my school, homework is an accepted part of a student's
life and I would not dream of eliminating it.

In all honesty, I must admit that my homework assignments are much more
meaningful with TPR Storytelling than they were when I had kids do
exercises from the workbook, but that's a different topic!

Susan Gross


97/07 From-> "Shirley E. Ogle" <>
Subject: Re: TPR Storytelling and homework

Just to add my 2 cents worth, my colleague, Melinda Forward, and I also
use a little different form of TPR Storytelling and we also DO give
homework. I think so much of that question depends on the situation you
are in and also your teaching style. Melinda and I give homework because
we feel that it is an added practice that helps "cement" the learning
that is taking place in class.

Susan Gross replied:
>In all honesty, I must admit that my homework assignments are much more
>meaningful with TPR Storytelling than they were when I had kids do
>exercises from the workbook...

To that point, I can add amen. TPR Storytelling provides students with a
wonderful natural sense of the language and enables them to communicate
in a meaningful way. You will find TPR Storytelling can work at many
different levels and in many different teaching situations.

Shirley E. Ogle


97/07 From-> Julianne Baird <>
Subject: Re: homework and TPR storytelling?

If you follow Blaine Ray's Storytelling hook, line and sinker there is
very little homework. Homework is usually given to reinforce the
material learned in class. Most students learn the vocabulary so well
through Storytelling that there is no need to bore them with worksheets
at home. When I do Storytelling (I alternate the stories with other
units) it takes me approximately 2 weeks to do a story from start to
finish. During that time I might give 2 homework assignments.
Occasionally I will give only 1 and rarely I will assign 3 worksheets. I
use the worksheets basically so the students can practice the spelling
of the vocab words.

Julianne Baird


97/07 From-> Kate Doolittle
Subject: TPR (again!)

I hate to be redundant, but back to the topic of TPR storytelling. . .I
was inspired to read more about it by the enthusiastic comments and
discussions on the list. But in trying to decide if it's a method I
would like to attempt in my level 1 German, I have a few questions.

1) We teach on a block schedule (85-min. class every other day). Would
this present a problem?

2) For those of you who use TPR, how much of the "regular" textbook do
you use, and how do you coordinate the two methods?

3) I've read about presenting some grammar with TPR, but I'm very
skeptical about how well the students would pick up what they need to
know. Do you still use "traditional" grammar explanations, exercises,
homework, etc., or is it necessary to restructure the whole curriculum?

I obviously need to get many things clear before I can expect to try
this method with any degree of success! My first reaction to some of the
things I'm reading is that this method seems incredibly slow! How do you
get through all of the materials/topics you need to cover in a year?
I've checked out upcoming TPR workshop dates, but there are none
scheduled in the Chicago area in the near future. Any extra input you
"veterans" would be willing to share would be much appreciated! Thanks.

Kate Doolittle


97/08 From-> Gini Pohlman <>
Subject: TPR-S veterans

I just attended Blaine Ray's TPR storytelling workshop. While I can see
its potential and see it as very powerful, I don't feel confident that I
can jump in with no experience and commit to 180 days of story telling.
Are any of you using TPRS partially, in conjunction with your text? How?
Are you getting good results? The student performance on the video was
impressive. NO grammar explanations? It's so scary to let it all go. Is
there anyone in Wisconsin using TPRS exclusively or has been doing it
for awhile? I would like to "pick your brain" as it were. Any info would
be appreciated!

Gini Pohlman


97/09 From-> Irene Moon <>
Subject: TPR Vocab. test?

My kids have learned the airport vocab well enough to tell a rather long
story about Princesa, La Pasajera. (I have the feeling that I probably
made it too long, but it was my first).

If they can tell me the story, with most of the basic words, I really
didn't see a need to give them a formal test. Am I O.K. with this or
should I also formally test them?

Next, we're going to practice using preterite tense telling all the
things Princesa did during the flight and while in Mexico.

Would be glad for other suggestions.

Irene Moon


97/09 From-> Sue Alice Shay <>
Subject: LONGish TPR storytelling


Step One: Use TPR, TPR Practice and Scenarios to Teach Vocabulary

The teacher uses TPR to teach a small group of words. After introducing
a word and its associated action, she "plays with" the vocabulary in TPR
practice to provide more comprehensible input. Using gestures,
manipulative, pictures and familiar vocabulary, she then further
reinforces new vocabulary by giving students a series of commands to
execute and short scenarios to act out.

For example, in a beginning-level story from the textbook  ¡Cuentame
mas! (Marsh & Anderson, CW Publishing, 1993), the following vocabulary
items are taught via TPR: the coyote, sees, the bird, wants to eat,
grabs, offers. Sample commands might include the following:


Eat a big plate of spinach (Yuck!).

Eat four ice cream cones (Yum!).

Eat a small bird and a big coyote.

Grab the coyote.

Offer it to the student on your right.

Offer that student a big bird.

Grab a coyote and put it on that student's head.


After practice with short commands, a sample scenario, which students
act out while the teacher narrates, might look like this:

There is a tiny bird. ("Student bird" takes a bow and says "tweet
tweet".) There is a big coyote. ("Student coyote" takes a bow and
"howls".) The big coyote has four sandwiches. The tiny bird
wants to eat the sandwiches, so the coyote offers the bird two
sandwiches. Yum!

Step Two: Students Produce and Practice Vocabulary Words

Once students have internalized vocabulary words through TPR practice
and scenarios, the class divides into student pairs to practice
producing the words. One student in the pair reads the word and the
other gives the corresponding gesture, then vice versa. Next, one
student does the gesture and the other says the corresponding word.

Step Three: Teacher Presents a Mini-Story Which Students Then Retell
and Revise

Using student actors, puppets, or pictures from the text, the teacher
then narrates a mini-story containing the targeted vocabulary words. The
mini-story and illustrations corresponding to the above vocabulary words
are as follows:

There is a big coyote. There is also a tiny bird. The coyote sees the
bird. The coyote wants to eat the bird. The coyote grabs the bird. Oh
no! But the bird offers the coyote a peanut butter sandwich. What a

The teacher uses a variety of techniques to increase exposure to the
story and to help the students start telling it:

1. She pauses in the story to allow students to fill in words or act out

2. She makes mistakes and lets the students correct her.

3. She asks short-answer and open-ended questions.

(Is the coyote big or little? Who does the coyote grab? What is the
coyote's name? Where does he live? Etc.)

Once the story is internalized, students then retell it to a partner.
Students may tell the story from memory or may use illustrations or
guide words written up on the board as cues. The class then reconvenes
and student volunteers retell the story for the other students to act
out. The teacher may also help the class revise the story, changing a
few details about the plot or characters to create a new revision to the
original story line.

Step Four: Teacher Presents a Main Story Which Students Then Retell and

Small groups of mini-stories are designed to prepare students to
narrate, read and write a longer main story which uses the vocabulary
from the mini-stories. When an entire group of mini-stories has been
mastered by the class, the teacher then repeats Step Three to introduce
the main story. Once the main story has been presented and acted out, it
is reinforced with readings and exercises from the textbook. As with
mini-stories, students build upon the main story, using their existing
language skills to embellish the plot, personalize the characters and
create revisions.

Step Five: Students Use New and Old Vocabulary to Create Original

Capitalizing on their creativity, students are given opportunities to
write, illustrate, act out and share original stories. Activities may
include drama, essays, videotaping, creating student booklets, contests,
group/pair work, illustration exercises, back-to-back communication
activities, etc.

These are the simple steps at the heart of a complete and comprehensive
methodology which allows students to rapidly acquire, internalize and
produce sophisticated language in a fully communicative approach. TPR-S
is being used with growing numbers of students at all levels in foreign
language, ESL and bilingual classes with unparalleled success.

As more and more language teachers from elementary grades to adult
education are refusing to accept the inefficacy of grammar-based
approaches, they are turning increasingly to communicative instruction.
In the ongoing search for more effective and natural forms of language
instruction, it appears that TPR Storytelling just might be their
long-awaited answer.

(*More information about TPR-S training, materials and test results can
be obtained by contacting TPR Storytelling Network & Workshops via the
internet at, via telephone at 800-958-5552 from
8:00 am to 5:00 pm M-F West Coast Time, or via email at

Sue Alice Shay


97/09 From-> Dana Thacker <>
Subject: Re: TPR success question

Keep doing TPR...Keep your plan to go TPR Storytelling...Those few who
'don't get it'-I have no sound advice, other than it happens to me, too.
My experience is with kids that refuse to participate-and they
eventually quit coming to class...

TPR Storytelling is such a good method that once you gain the skill-your
personal success rate will increase..

I relate to your frustration, but think of the other kids that are
getting it....

Dana Thacker


97/09 From-> Mary E Young <>
Subject: Up-to-date stories  -TPR?


How about having them use the same story but put it in a contemporary
setting? That may require a discussion on symbolism, and some additional
vocabulary (maybe instead of a shoemaker it's a stockbroker, and instead
of elves it's computer wizards who bail him out overnight while he's
(she's) lighting up the social scene) Just so the plot basics remain the

It may be surprising to them to observe the universality of some of the
themes they encounter.
They may recognize some things they see on TV and in movies.

Maybe to review the vocabulary they could invent a game (or use some
that you already use with them), to help bring the vocabulary up to a
retrievable place in the mind.

Turning narration to dialog is already a fun adaptation of a reading
assignment. The vocabulary review could consist of some mini-dialogs in
pairs. Given a specific scene in the story, have classmembers act it out
with a partner (at their seats or in A/B circles). You could provide a
list of the new vocabulary words they are to practice or let them use

An alternative would be to have groups of 3, rotating the 3rd person in
on the next scene, and have #3 keep track of the new words each person
uses. NO.3 could have a clean list and two colored pens, assign a color
to each person, listen to what they say and check off each new
vocabulary word as it is used. This means the listener has to know the
list pretty well, to be able to stay on top of this!

Another way to review the vocabulary is to write each word on a slip of
paper, put them in a box, have students draw a slip, and
(1) give a definition of the word without saying any part of the word,
for another student to guess;
(2) give a sentence where the word would be logically used, for others
to guess (this works only because you are working from a limited list!);
(3) describe the scene in the story where this word figures in; or
(4) use the word in a segment of a story the class is inventing together
(you know, the old chain story game where each person adds to what the
previous person told, ending on a cliff-hanger phrase such as, "but
suddenly..." or "but when he opened the door he saw..." and so on -- the
trick being to work the word in so that it fits the story.)

Sounds like you have a fun project in the works.

Mary E Young


97/09 From-> Sue Steele <>
Subject: TPRStorytelling

On August 4 & 5 I reluctantly attended a TPRStorytelling workshop. This
workshop was conducted by Shirley Ogle and Melinda Forward. The workshop
took place in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I will never be able to thank these
two people for enlightening me. Shirley Ogle knew that out of the 13
people who were attending this workshop that I was the most skeptical. I
am a grammarian. I teach 9th grade grammar (ENGLISH). I taught French
from the grammarian point of view UNTIL (yes, I am screaming) until my
eyes were opened to this method. No one could have predicted that I
would have changed my perspective concerning this method.

We had open house tonight. The parents had to follow their sons' or
daughters' schedule. I can't tell you how many parents commented on how
they have learned French these past two weeks. I have to insert that I
also teach French III this year. This class has been taught by the
grammarian method for two years. I told them that French would be spoken
at all times during their class period. THEY HAD A FIT!! (Yes, again, I
am screaming!) My French I has no problem speaking French to me.

Will I get through all the tenses that I am supposed to accomplish this
year?? No, I won't. Do I care??? No, I don't. Why???? Because my
students are excited about speaking the language. Do our universities
here in Michigan test with grammarian standards??? Yes, but I don't
care. I have seen the difference of teaching in this manner. I see kids,
even lower level kids, succeed. I am excited. I have been teaching for
25 years. I have never seen anything like this. IF the universities
would accept this new method, they would see a big difference in the way
students view a language. In Michigan 70% of the universities' placement
tests is grammar. This WAS how I was preparing my students. NO MORE!!
No, I will not complete the 12 tenses of French by the end of third
year. (I knew them by the end of 2 years of French in 1968). BUT could I
have a conversation??? NO. The parents of my French I students tonight
were astounded by what their sons or daughters were doing. My French III
parents were asking why I was being so mean because I was asking their
sons or daughters to speak French.

I only have five more years before I retire. I am having the BEST (yes,
I am screaming) time I have ever had in all the years of my teaching. I
didn't think I would make it through the next five years. Now I know I
can. By the way, I had 95 per cent pass the WRITTEN (yes, I am
screaming) vocabulary test today. I am so proud of them. I cannot wait
until tomorrow when I can applaud THEM!!!

You have to go through the workshop in order to learn this method. I
still remember the Norwegian story that I learned from TPRStorytelling
on August 4 and 5. Thank you Shirley Ogle and Melinda Forward!!! I will
be forever grateful!!!

Sue Steele


97/09 From-> Patti Spiegel <>
Subject: Re: TPRStorytelling

Although I'm responding in particular to Sue's success story, this is
also a general public thank-you to everyone on this list. I joined this
list last January and I can't believe all the wonderful ideas that I've
begun to use in my classes from this listserv. I was feeling a little
low this afternoon (September cold/flu) and started to have a pity
party. But then I started to think about all the blessings and things I
have to be thankful for. I got out of my mood pretty quickly. I consider
FLTEACH one of the most important things in my professional life and
although it's sometimes a real challenge to keep up with all the
messages, I could never leave this list for any extended period of time!
I consider you my friends, although we'll probably never meet. I'll
never forget at last year's Central States I could only go on Saturday,
so I figured I wouldn't see many people there. The very first person I
saw with a red dot was Irene Moon!!! Well, I recognized her name right
away. Here's only of few of the ideas I've implemented in my classes
this year alone:

1. The homework calendar ideas are great... what a time saver.
Especially with my Sp 1-2 levels it has been a real help. It puts more
responsibility on the kids shoulders for keeping track of their homework
points for the month.

2. My advanced class are sharing oral presentations now from ideas here.
"My summer in a bag" was discussed in August and it's been a real hit.

3. Claudette Moran and I are going to begin an e-mail keypals exchange
for this year between our advanced classes. My students are also looking
forward to this.

4. I am trying to put together my own home page and I've been able to
visit a lot of others to see how I'd like to design mine. My bookmarks
list is SO long from all the neat places I'd like to revisit.

5. Most importantly, TPR Storytelling is making such a difference this
year. I heard so much about TPR-S from this list that I decided to go to
this same conference that Sue mentioned in Ann Arbor. (Hi Sue, glad to
read about your successes!) I'll forever be glad I decided to go. What a
great concept to learning a foreign language. I've implemented it in my
Sp 1 classes (and some with the Sp 2) and my kids and I am both excited
and thrilled with the results. It is so much more fun, it's almost like
playtime. Yet they're accomplishing so much. Although I'm not using TPRS
in my Sp 3, 4, or 5 classes, it is carrying over and making those
students speak (and enjoy speaking) Spanish more in class. They never
want to speak in English!

I'm looking forward to attending a second conference in Ft. Worth on Oct
4th and I plan on learning so much more. I might never have heard of
this approach without this listserv.

Well... I'm rambling. Anyway, thank you for all your wonderful ideas.
Thanks Jean and Bob for creating this listserv. It's nice to have
friends around the world. I feel so much better now! :)

Patti Spiegel


97/09 From-> Julianne Baird <>
Subject: Re: TPRStorytelling

My kids (for the most part) enjoy German, actually like talking the
language, laugh and smile in my class, so do I and all of this is
because of Storytelling. In my German 4 classes in the old days, the
kids would shut down with 10 minutes or so to go. This year, when there
are 5 minutes left, they ask if they can draw a story on the white
boards and tell it to the class. Most of the kids comment how fast the
class goes. I think that too. Where does the time fly? AND I have energy
left at the end of the day and week.

There is a page that describes storytelling. It is

Sometimes the server for that page is down, but keep trying. It works.
Let me know if you have any specific questions. Describing the method
takes quite a while and it is best to buy the book by the Storytelling
Guru Blaine Ray and read about it.

Julianne Baird

97/03 From-> Susan Gross <s_gross@COMPUSERVE.COM>
Subject: TPR Storytelling

Please be aware that the full TPR Storytelling method develops reading,
writing, and accuracy also. While the rate of acquisition at the
beginning level is astounding, the upper levels (III, IV, AP) include a
significant accuracy component. TPR Storytelling is still used as the
foundation for developing this accuracy.

Susan Gross


97/04 From-> Robbie Marshall <>
Subject: Re: communicative approach to teaching second language

I began this year using TPR Storytelling in both Spanish and German
classes. I do not know about real data for "success", but I have seen
instances of understanding in students who failed miserably before.

I have no real proof, just a feeling that there is something great about
the process. I have been to one and three day workshops. I am using as
much as I can each class. It is difficult for me to stop being a GRAMMAR
teacher. My students don't yet know how to apply themselves to learn
"applied grammar" and we're all miserable with verbs. Less misery than
in years before TPR. :)

Robbie Marshall


97/04 From-> Mike Miller <>
Subject: Re: TPR Storytelling

 I have been teaching TPR storytelling alongside Susan Gross in Colorado
Springs all this school year. I teach German and Spanish. I have found
great success with the program in these areas: the class is thrilled
with the language. They love speaking and reading and even writing in
the language a whole lot more than a traditional class does. I am also
happier teaching. They also remember the language a lot more.

Truly they never forget what I have taught them even from the beginning
of the year. On the other hand, the grammar isn't perfect, but to me the
trade-off is well worth it. I remember always being frustrated teaching
conjugations and students not getting it. It seemed so easy to me. But
there is a certain level of the language when a student internalizes the
conjugations or use of negatives, etc. They will get it when they're
ready. Just keep modeling good language in front of them and it will
work out. I have also noticed certain concepts which took regular
classes a long time to master which my TPR storytelling classes get very
naturally. One such concept is the German verb in the 2nd position of
most sentences. Check out Blain Ray's seminar if it is around you

Mike Miller


97/04 From-> Carol Gaab <>
Subject: Re: TPR Storytelling--re-telling stories

TPR Storytelling is completely planned and methodical. Stories are
invented, using specific vocab. items/expressions. Focussing on that
group of vocab. words/expressions, a story is told, but only AFTER
students have "internalized" all the vocab.! Each word needs to be "TPR
practiced" sufficiently before moving on to storytelling.

Once ready for a story, students should hear the story several times
with a little vocal variety each time. After several renditions of the
story I have my students practice telling the story to a partner first,
then I choose a "volunteer" to tell the story to the class. Re-telling
of the story is usually 100% accurate, although not always 100%
grammatically correct. The grammar errors don't bother me unless they
impede comprehensibility, and 99.9% of the time they don't. If I want to
"work on" a specific grammar point, I use it repeatedly in targeted
teacher talk for the next several days, or until my students "get it."

TPR is wonderful for long term (memory) retention of individual vocab.
items, and the storytelling helps the learner contextualize the vocab.
and use it in relevant ways. Hope this clarifies what should be expected
from a re-telling...

:)Carol Gaab
TPR Storytelling Network


97/09 From-> Michael Kundrat <>
Subject: ALM/TPRS

Marilyn writes:

>Interestingly enough, to do A-LM well took a similar kind of drive and energy
>of the part of the teacher to TPR Storytelling today --

As a teacher who uses TPRS almost exclusively, I'll take that as a
compliment. However, I want to point out to anyone considering a similar
change that these are qualities any good teacher possesses. What I'm
trying to say is that nobody should be "scared off" by thinking of the
somewhat frenetic pace that came with TPR, at least in its early stages.
TPRS can suit anyone's personality...we're not all "whirling dervishes"
in the classroom, nor do we need to be for our students to succeed. TPRS
takes care of that. Still....thanks, Marilyn!

Michael Kundrat


97/09 From-> Sue Steele <>
Subject: TPRStorytelling (LONG)

I would like to express some other aspects that I like concerning
TPRStorytelling. The teacher has control over pronunciation because the
students get to practice the language. The teacher has control over the
use of correct grammar. The students figure out why there is a "la" or a
"le" or a "les" before a noun. I don't have to teach that. The teacher
has the control to make sure the student writes well because they have
words spelled correctly and use them several times in written exercises
before they are tested. Today I gave another written test. I had 23
students take the written quiz in one class. Scores are 12, 100%; 2,
96%; 5, 93%, 3, 89% and one at 74%. I taught the other class the same
way but the scores are not as high. I say they didn't study. Scores: 5,
100%: 6,97%; 5, 93%; 4, 90%; 1,87%; 1, 83%; 1, 77%; 1,70%; 1,67%; 1,63%;
1, 57%.

I counted accents because I can't give that up. They were marked wrong
if they put le instead of la also.

I teach English 9 grammar. The scores for their spelling/vocab. tests
today were absolutely deplorable. I don't have control over how English
is spoken at home. They had a week to study. I do have a German exchange
student in my English 9 class. He received an A on his spelling and
vocab. He has an A in my English 9 class. He knows English better than
my students. He volunteers all the time. It is spurring my students to
compete. I love it. I haven't had that advantage before!!!

When I came out of the womb, I could not speak. I had to listen for many
months before I spoke. When I spoke, my mom did not say, "Oh, that is a
noun!!!" When I put sentences together, my mom did not say, "Very good.
You used a direct and an indirect pronoun." My first exposure to grammar
was in second grade. Then 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th. My grammar is
automatic. My ninth graders, in many cases, have not had grammar since
5th grade. Four years is a long time not to have any grammar. We do a
last-ditch effort since we in foreign languages ended up teaching the
grammar. If our students don't even know their own language, how can we
expect them to learn the grammar of another one. Yes, many of them learn
their English grammar through their foreign language classes. But many
of them drop out because it is so hard for them to learn two languages
at once. Many drop out because they thought they were going to learn how
to speak the language. After two years, we see a huge drop in our
numbers. I think it is because they are burnt out. They cannot handle
it. I knew my own language; therefore French came so easily to me. My
ninth grade English class has no idea what a conjugation is. These same
kids are in my French I class. Are you understanding the point I am
making? My teachers didn't have to explain what a conjugation was, what
first person was, what an indirect object was, what a direct object was,
what the imperfect was, etc. We knew it in our own language. These kids

Last year in French II we completed these tenses: present, future, past,
imperfect, and subjunctive. I was surprised to read that many didn't get
to these tenses by the end of the second year. I will probably not
either with TPRS. But I figure they will be comfortable with the
language and will continue their language for a third year. I will then
complete the tenses they need. Many will not major/or minor in French.
They will know how to speak the language correctly and will be able to
read and write the language . Thus if they travel, they will at least be
able to survive in a franchophone country. My French I students'
pronunciation of the language is way beyond my French III's. I just
noticed that this week. My French I are not afraid to speak the
language. My French III are terrified. What a difference!!!

I like this method. I see results that I like even for the lower level
student. Almost everyone is succeeding. I didn't get those results the
other way I was teaching. It is fun to see kids excited about a language
and not because their parents told them to do it. Maybe originally their
attitude was that way on August 26, but that isn't the attitude in my
classroom today.

Sue Steele


97/09 From-> Julianne Baird <>
Subject: Re: TPR-S comments

I waited several days and thought the feeling would pass, but it hasn't.
So I just have to respond to Timothy Mason's comments concerning TPR-S.

>> I have said that I have found the discourse supporting this approach to be
>>disappointing. I will risk making a prediction : in about ten years, TPS-S will be
>>seen as a useful and enjoyable technique, to be used at certain moments in the
>>learning process, and to be adapted to the learners by the teacher.<<

This comment implies that TPR-S is a fad. If proficiency and fluency are
fads, then TPR-S will die out. Those who actually know TPR-S and have
tried TPR-S in their classrooms will tell you that this is not a
technique to be used "at certain moments." TPR-S is a method that is
used as the main method of instruction. I have been teaching for 16
years. For the first 14 years I taught with conventional methods and was
considered by my students, their parents and the administration, along
with area college professors as a good language teacher. I have had my
share of success stories, but most of my kids endured the class and
learned to study for the tests. With TPR-S I have so many success
stories in each class. I have a first year student, 5 weeks of German
instruction, who talks to her German exchange student in limited but
meaningful ways. TPR-S is helping 95% of my students become proficient
and fluent, not just the top 10% of the class.

>I would also like to say that many teachers have been using techniques which,
>to my eyes, appear similar to TPR-S, without making all the hoo-ha about it. I
>know teachers who use stories, who get their students moving to and with
>stories, and who have never heard of TPR-S.

These people who claim they do TPR and Storytelling frustrate me. I used
to teach next to a Spanish teacher who thought she knew what classical
TPR was. She would have her kids get up out of their seats for part of
the period and then spend the rest of the period using English to teach
Spanish grammar. She told me that TPR doesn't work. Of course it didn't
work for her, because movement alone does not guarantee that it is TPR.
James Asher developed a very detailed system for getting students to
physically respond to commands in the target language. It includes a
silent period of several weeks, and a very language rich environment. If
you don't follow the steps, you are not doing classical TPR.

I also know teachers who use lots of stories in their classroom, but
they also are not following the steps in Blaine Ray's Storytelling
method. The steps must be followed to get the proclaimed results.

No insult is meant to those teachers who use movement and/or stories in
class and are satisfied with the results but don't call your method
TPR-S. Both classical TPR and Storytelling must be taught according to
the prescribed plan in order for it to work. If you have not tried TPR-S
in your classrooms, then don't comment about it.

Sorry for the harsh words, but this method works when done right, and I
don't want it "poo-pooed" by a bunch a naysayers who don't know the ins
and outs of the technique. Flame me if you must, but I know it works and
so do my students, and their parents and our administration.

Julianne Baird


97/09 From-> Clyde Nielson <>
Subject: Words and Contexts

TPR Storytelling, though I've never used it (I no longer teach), seems
to incorporate all the things that make up good language teaching:
getting students engaged in the process, fostering spontaneity,
integrating movement with language learning, and building
confidence--all the things that teaching from a textbook rarely do. Most
importantly, it lends itself to cooperative, student-centered learning.

Clyde Nielson


97/09 From-> Jim Conway <>
Subject: Re: TPR-S comments

I first learned about TPR-S about 6 years ago, I started integrating the
stories into my teaching. My training from the time I was a student
teacher was in Proficiency-Based Language Instruction (Setting the
Stage, Comprehensible Input, Guided Practice, Assessment and
Evaluation). I was a trainer for COCI(Classroom Oral Competency
Interview), California's version of OPI and I have also been trained in
the CWCA (Classroom Writing Competency Assessment), California's writing
assessment tool for Foreign Language.

Even with all the training I have had in Proficiency-Based Instruction,
I felt something was missing. I was having great success with the level
1 storybook. Then last year, I started teaching the upper level stories
and I was having some problems. My feelings started to echo some of
Timothy Mason's feelings.

Well, to make a long story short. I went and saw Blaine this summer and
I found I was doing TPR-S wrong. I hadn't seen him for quiet a while and
he had made some important changes in how TPR-S is done. Blaine is a
very eclectic person, he is never completely satisfied with his already
high success rate. Anyhow, I have made the suggested changes I learned
at Blaine's workshop and everything has been going great this year.

I would like to address one issue that I remember Timothy Mason
mentioned. If I remember correctly, he brought up the issue of the
cultural relevance of Blaine's stories. I agree with him, but I don't
have the time to find new stories and recreate the materials that Blaine
has already created. When I was trying to integrate TPR-S with the
textbook we were using at the time, I rewrote Blaine's vocab sheets to
include the vocabulary I felt should be taught. It was a time consuming
task, but I still like my vocab sheets for level 1 better than his

Anyway the point I'm making is, I have a young family and there are
other priorities, like spending time with my wife and children. I have
known a few teachers who didn't keep their priorities straight and have
lost their families. Anyway, my entire department now uses TPR-S and it
is making good teachers into great teachers. It makes teaching more fun
than it already is.
I have written more than I planned. I'm starting to feel like I'm TBob,
who I enjoy reading. The only thing I haven't figured out is how TBob
finds the time to write as much as he does.

Jim Conway


97/09 From-> Michael Kundrat <>
Subject: TPRS/Tenses/TPR

I meant to get to this sooner, but didn't. There have been so many
postings the past 2 days about "tenses" that I don't want this to get
lost/forgotten in the shuffle. Because of the recent discussions, it may
be even more relevant now....

First, Ron Takalo writes:
>I have been reading all the posts about TPR and TPR storytelling, and have to
>add my "dos centavos" at this point.
>First of all, James Asher (father of TPR) said a couple of things in his workshop
>that I attended that need to be stressed at this point. First, he himself said that TPR
>is a STRATEGY and not a METHODOLOGY, the difference being that a strategy
>is one way of teaching some things, but does not purport to have all the answers for
>our methodological concerns. Second, Asher also said "Beware the guru with one
>book".  Amen - no one strategy or methodology has all the answers.

Then Marily Barrueta adds:
>Another thank you -- we should all be enthusiastic about whatever techniques we
are using, but never let it get to the point of feeling that we own the truth.

Followed by Pat Barrett:
>Marilyn (OUR Marilyn) mentions someone quoting Krashen as saying that TPR is
>the only method that had it right. I have a video called A Child's Guide to Language
>in which Krashen mentions TPR among several other methodologies has having it
>right, but that they do not transfer out of the classroom very well. He then goes on
>to praise immersion a la Canada. Perhaps that is the source of the quote.

I apologize for all these quotes, but I'm looking for clarification.
There apparently are a number of people who want to add relevant
comments to the discussion about Storytelling, but don't know the
difference between it and TPR. I apologize again if I am
misreading/misinterpreting, but that is what comes through to me with
these postings.

Because the fault might be mine, because I don't want to spend time
"nitpicking", but mostly because I want to try and clarify the
situation, I'd like to offer the following comments:

1. TPR is indeed a strategy - a fine one, I think - for learning
vocabulary and structure. Nobody has ever claimed it to be a
methodology, but no matter your's not what we've been

2. TPRS, or Storytelling, uses the strategy of James Asher's TPR as a
key component, but goes well beyond its limitations. I'm not going to go
into the whole program here. For a quick view visit the website at

3.Re the discussion of the past 2 days, TPRS doesn't put tenses in the
forefront, but uses verb time as a means of communication. (and object
pronouns or anything else you'd care to mention for that matter).
Communication - understanding/speaking/writing/reading - is the goal,
and new items are included as students can handle them. On the surface,
I suppose that doesn't sound very different from what many others do. If
you've had experience with TPRS though, you know the approach is

4. Some people have the idea that Storytelling is a "one-note"
methodology and therefore can't possibly have all the answers. I don't
remember anyone saying that either. As students progress, the TPRS
teachers I know incorporate reading, computer-use, group projects, and
whatever else might be used in a more "traditional" classroom. Still,
every teacher - I *think* - builds his/her course around some sort of
core, some foundation. For me, that core is of course Storytelling.
That's where I see my students making progress.

5. For whatever reason, some people feel that TPRS teachers are
advocating Storytelling as "the only way." I don't remember any posts
saying that, nor do I remember anyone doubting the success others have
achieved with whatever methods they might use.(although, if I may, some
others do seem to doubt the success we Storytelling teachers are
finding) What I have said, what I remember other Storytelling teachers
saying about themselves, is that I was a good teacher dissatisfied with
the overall results I was seeing. After looking at TPRS, I decided to
give it a go. My students are speaking/understanding/writing more/better
than ever, and all of us are having more fun. (no matter your concern
about "fun" in the classroom, I'm going to put it in the "plus" column,
especially when it accompanies all that progress!)
Someone offered a fine line the other day - "Storytelling can make a
good teacher a great teacher." Many of you are already great teachers
and have no need to alter your methods. I was not, and I felt that need.
For others out there like me, I suggest the possibilities of Storytelling.

Michael Kundrat


97/09 From-> Gale Mackey <>
Subject: RE TPRS

I read your post on Flteach recently. I agree that tpr is a technique or
approach not a method.

However, TPR Storytelling can not be classified as just a strategy. TPR
only works with a few words in the language. The reason is that most
words are not TPRable. They can not be used in novel commands. Therefore
tpr is most effective with beginners. It does run out of steam because
when you take novel commands out of TPR you have something where there
is no interest.

TPR Storytelling on the other hand, is a method. A method is what is
used to produce, (according to Krashen) intermediate language learners.
That means we prepare them for 2 things:
1. Going to the country to become advanced language learners
2. literature on the college level.

We can measure this by AP tests. Through TPRS we have had several
students pass the AP language test in just 2 years with almost no

TPRS also works well with low learners. At East High School in Denver,
Colorado, they took ALL their students who failed Spanish 1 first
semester. They put them in a TPRS classroom. Those students ALL passed
second semester and are now the leaders in 2nd year Spanish.

Even though this method is new, people who have tried it and done it
EXCLUSIVELY over time have found it to bring truly amazing results.

I do not claim to know everything. I am experimenting every day. I try
new things all the time as all in the profession should but by using
TPRS as a basis for the new testing, the results continue to astound me
and others.

Blaine Ray


97/11 From-> Todd McKay THMCKAY1@AOL.COM
Subject: TPR storytelling debate

It's great to see so much interest in acquisition approaches to language
instruction and specifically in TPR Storytelling.

I personally have seen the light so to speak and will never return to
the days of teaching via "drill and kill" to get my kids up and flying
in the target language. I've yet to find a better way to build fluency
or as I refer to it "comfort and ease in communicating", than through
the combination of TPR and storytelling. Anyway, that's me. And I think
that's the point...That it's me that has found pleasure in the process
of seeing students develop language skills. Not everyone in our
profession sees this as an overall goal--to build language fluency--or
at least not all agree on the way in which to go about it. So what's all
the fuss??

Why are we arguing with those who don't agree. If they are happy with
the ease with which their students develop language skills, so be it. I
usually make my sell for acquisition last 1 minute and than it's not
WILLING TO TRY IT! But in my 1 minute sell, I say try it for a month
and you may never go back. What have they got to lose, month
of developing language skills (speaking, listening, reading, and writing)
and not pounding in explicit grammar instruction???

Todd McKay

97/12 From-> Julianne Baird <>
Subject: Game for TPR-S

Here's a game that helps the kids hear those lines from the stories over
and over and eventually into their brains.

1) Divide the class into teams. I usually have 3 or 4 teams, depending
on the size of the class.
2) One person from each team comes up to the table in the front of the
room. I don't have little noise makers for each team. Instead I have a
stuffed puppy dog that sits on the table (or the overhead)
3) I start by saying one of the lines from the story. I say the sentence
very s-l-o-w-l-y. When the students know how to finish the sentence,
they grab the puppy. As soon as the puppy is grabbed, I stop speaking.
The kid who grabs gets to finish the sentence. If the sentence is
communicatively correct (a native would understand the sentence) his or
her team gets a point.
4) If a student grabs the puppy and cannot finish the sentence or finishes
it so that it is not communicatively correct, the puppy is put back on the
table and another kid can grab the puppy. If the second kid finishes the
sentence correctly, then that teams ears *2* points. I had to add this 2
point element because too many kids would grab the puppy just so
others wouldn't get a point - imagine that.

I have used this silly game with my seniors and they enjoy it. It is a
fast moving game and I usually spend only 10-15 minutes playing it.

Julianne Baird


97/03 From-> Pat Barrett <>
Subject: Re: Storytelling

I would be interested to know how those on the list who have insisted
that a grammatical foundation is necessary before accurate communication
(would it be communication if it were/was not accurate?) can occur
respond to the enthusiasm of the TPR storytelling conversos. Do the wise
old heads sagely wag and say, These young whipper snappers will be drawn
up short when they reach college and a professor asks them to conjugate
a verb in the plusquamperfecto...? or do they still insist that these
students are not really communicating because they use present tense
instead of past or regularize an irregular plural?

I know I sound sarcastic (my students say I am, but what do they know)
but I am very sincere in wanting to know what the objections are to
learning to communicate in the TL without a thorough analysis of the
grammatical system. BTW, I am still developing my list of citations on
error correction. BTW again, I do not use TPR because I am full of
doubts and misgivings, but these converts, including the ones at my
school, are pushing me hard.
 Pat Barrett


97/03 From-> Ron Takalo <>
Subject: Re: Storytelling

I am one of those college professors, and it seems to me that being able
to communicate with a native speaker is more important than being able
to conjugate a verb in the pluscuamperfecto. What about the students who
can conjugate said verb, but cannot communicate with a native speaker
about common topics? I learned about the verb system in high school and
college back in the 50's and 60's but only after a stint in Mexico was I
ever what one might call fluent. And becoming fluent means making errors
as one gets more fluent. If one waits to talk until one can say
something perfectly, I doubt such a person would ever develop as a

It seems to me that one has to determine what is more important (not
that both form and communication can not developed at the same time).
But excess attention to form does not necessarily develop a fluent
speaker. Also, excess attention to form is potentially very boring, and
one may lose a lot of potentially good speakers who bail out of language

BTW, I am one who emphasizes both, and at my college all majors have a
mandatory study abroad semester, because I do not feel that for most
students a reasonable fluency is not possible just taking courses in
most cases.

Furthermore, I have been experimented with TPR after having several
workshops with James Asher et al. and have been most gratified with the
results. Maybe you should try the strategy before condemning it. I am
looking forward to getting ahold of the video on Storytelling and trying

Ron Takalo


97/08 From-> Melissa Badger
Subject: Re: TPR

As I understand it--- and I could be wrong!!!!!, TPR is best used to
acquire vocabulary. One still has to explain the grammar, etc. as you
normally would (lecture, drills, etc.) I am using TPR Storytelling
(Thanks Blaine!!!!), which takes the TPR concept a step further. You use
stories and mini-stories to teach advanced vocabulary and structures.
Once the students know the story, you can have them retell it in the
preterite/imperfect, discuss por/para, personal a, etc. The students
(IMHO) can then understand the grammar discussion a little bit better
because they now have an "ear" as to what "sounds" correct in the

Melissa Badger


97/09 From-> "James C. May" <>
Subject: TPR success question

I have been using TPR in preparation for TPR storytelling for a little
over a week. While the vast majority of students have been successful
(scoring 80-100%) on TPR quizzes there is a small group of students
(about 8 out of 140) who just don't seem to "get it." These students
have never scored over 60%. I have made a point of monitoring them in
class; they seem to be paying attention and seem to understand the
gestures but constantly fail the quizzes. My question is this: All the
literature I have read concerning TPR says it is the teacher's fault if
students do not do well in TPR. Has anyone else experienced this, that
is, students who just don't do well on TPR tests? I test them via
drawings: I will say "Point to the window with a pencil" and they have
to draw it. We will have been working on the words "window" and "pencil"
for about two days. They have heard (and practiced) "Point" for about a
week now. I am wondering if I should continue with TPR if 100% of the
students are not successful.

James C. May


97/09 From-> Timothy Mason <>
Subject: Re: TPR success question

James, could you be a little more explicit about how you test them? I'm
not sure that I understood the process ; it may be that the test is
inappropriate to the method. It may also be that you are paying too much
attention to a test result after only one week of using the method.

You say that 8/140 are not doing well. Do you usually get better results
than this? If not, then why not stick with the TPR, and try to find
compensatory activities for the children that it does not suit. If you
do usually get better results, you should immediately apply for the next
post of pedagogical guru that comes up, as you are truly exceptional.

Whoever claims that only teacher-failure can account for poor results
with TPR is just making noises with their mouth. No one method, on its
own, is one hundred percent successful. I find TPR to be an excellent
resource, but followed religiously, it doesn't hack it ; learners need
to try and use the language for themselves, to express their own needs
and ideas.

Timothy Mason


97/09 From-> Bob Hall <>
Subject: Re: TPR success question

>No. But I do remember someone saying (perhaps at a workshop) that TPR by
>its very nature should make every student successful. And our principal said
>at the beginning of the year that he would hold teachers accountable if students
>had good attendance but were failing a class. Maybe I let that "threat" get to
>me more than it should have.

It seems these days that the formula for student success could be stated
as follows:

Student success = good teaching + School Commitment + Understanding
society + supportive parents. Somehow one part of the equation is
frequently ignored and that is student responsibility for his learning.
Most of us would be delighted to have the success ratio that you showed
in your original post. Keep plugging!

Bob Hall


97/09 From-> Julianne Baird <>
Subject: Re: TPR success question

James, ask yourself if these individuals would also being doing poorly
with conventional teaching methods. Did these students willingly sign up
for your class or were they placed there because their other choices
were full? Can you test these individuals in different ways? Can you
give these students commands to perform in class instead of drawing

What ever you do, don't give up on the TPR-Storytelling for a handful of
kids. Some kids will resist because "it ain't cool." These same types of
kids will not be successful in any Fl class, not just yours.

Julianne Baird


97/09 From-> Andrea Claassen <>
Subject: problem meshing old curriculum kids and TPR-S kids - help!

This year my middle school is making a transition from a
year-and-a-half-long traditional foreign language curriculum to a
two-semester TPR-S curriculum. Students who successfully complete the
middle school program begin high school in level two of their language.
As we make the transition, a problem has arisen in the second semester
class lists. Students who have been exposed only to very traditional
grammar-focused instruction for a semester will be combined in classes
with students who have been "brought up" strictly on TPR-S. The only
vocab the two groups have in common are numbers, colors, and classroom
objects, so I feel a need to start my traditionally-reared kids from the
beginning with Classical TPR, particularly since TPR-S is now being used
district-wide. I figure it will take at least nine weeks (half a
semester) to bring them up to speed.

As you can imagine, this will bore the heck out of the kids who already
learned the material. Meanwhile, the kids who are being rushed through
the early TPR stuff for the first time will feel like dummies because
half of their classmates know it like the back of their hands. Students'
schedules cannot be changed to accommodate this transition. What do you
folks suggest?

Andrea Claassen


97/09 From-> Julianne Baird <>
Subject: Re: problem meshing old curriculum kids and TPR-S kids - help!

Blaine Ray occasionally has some kids join his level 2 Spanish class who
have had NO Spanish 1. These kids tend to be very bright and motivated.
He says that it might take a week or two before these kids get the hang
of the method, but they do catch on and they do just as well with any
*new* material as the rest of the class. Occasionally they will have
problems with vocab learned from first year, but most of the kids

I realize that you are mixing two differently taught middle school
classes - and these classes probably don't contain only the best and
brightest students. If you feel compelled to start over with TPR, add a
lot of new vocabulary items and actions so that last year's TPR group
will not get bored and disruptive.

Julianne Baird


97/09 From-> Janice Dirmeitis <janiced@INJERSEY.COM>
Subject: Re: TPR-S It's not all stories!

>>No one technique is a panacea, however useful a tool it may be. On balance,
>>if the TPR-S movement introduces story-telling into classes where it was not
>>used before, then I welcome it. But you will sooner or later discover that you
>>need variation.<<

I agree and I'd like you to know that I attended a two day workshop this
summer with Blaine Ray. The last hour of the second day he went through
what a typical 5 day lesson plan would be for various levels of classes
and guess what! It's not all TPR -S.

In short there were short talks by the students on real life situations
(like what they did on the week-end). They were asked to describe,
explain how to do something or convince someone. They were required to
do "free writes" in which they had to keep writing for a certain amount
of minutes on a given topic. Another day Blaine had a 10-15 minute
listening activity of a movie. Finally there were reading activities
ranging from graded readers, Goosebumps in Spanish to simple novels.

It was at this point that I realized how TPR-S could work because you
don't do it every minute of every class!!!

Janice Dirmeitis


97/09 From-> Richard Lee <>
Subject: Re: TPR-S comments

I remember back when I first started teaching that the Encyclopedia
Brittanica people told us something similar. You had to follow
everything to the letter, otherwise they couldn't guarantee that you
would be successful. Somehow this sounds like the echo of a kind of
pedagogical dogma which I remember from that experience. If the results
aren't what you expected, it's because you varied from the
"prescription". It all sounds pretty delicate and fragile to me. I've
seen kids who have learned in spite of the method, so that it's
difficult for me to believe that there is just one "magic bullet".

Richard Lee


97/09 From-> Susan Gross <>
Subject: TPR success

Your message about your success is gratifying and disappointing at the
same time. It is gratifying to see how well the students are doing and
how much they are learning. At the same time, it is disappointing that
your colleagues are not supportive.

It is sad how FL teachers have been conditioned to thinking that table
of contents of the book equals a curriculum and that teaching out of the
book equals good teaching. I know another teacher who had such strong
resistance to his TPR Storytelling teaching that the rest of Spanish
department went to the principal saying that he wasn't teaching the
district curriculum. When he showed the principal (who was a former FL
teacher, no less) how his students were doing exactly what the district
curriculum says (Use the language to narrate, describe, whatever the
curriculum said) it fell on deaf ears. I think that the initial problem
arose because kids in other teachers' classes were asking to be changed
to the TPR Storytelling class... anyway it became an ugly scene.

Susan Gross


97/09 From-> Timothy Mason <>
Subject: Re: TPR success

Susan Gross, commenting on the reaction of some language teachers to the
introduction of TPR-S, says :

"It is sad how FL teachers have been conditioned to thinking that table
of contents of the book equals a curriculum and that teaching out of the
book equals good teaching."

Whilst some of those who regard TPR-S with a certain degree of
skepticism may be thus characterized, it would be unfortunate to dismiss
all opponents in this way. A number of those who are critical may be
interesting and interested teachers, who nevertheless have reservations
which are legitimate and comprehensible. The fact that Krashen has
praised this approach is not guaranteed to sway all minds : although I
myself feel that Krashen's contribution to language teaching has been
largely positive, I know a number of intelligent and thoughtful people
would not agree with me. Some of the arguments that have been advanced
against his theories are respectable and telling - if there is a desire
to debate them in this place, we could perhaps do that.

Jim Conway's post seems to me to be of great interest here ; he is
finding positive value in the approach, and yet is willing to question
the details, a position which I find admirable. He notes that Blaine Ray
has himself continued to adapt the method ; if this is the case, I
cannot see why other teachers should not do so. Every teacher has to
deal with differing cases, differing problems ; to lay down one single
procedure for all is a nonsense.

I have the great good fortune to work in a team; three teachers sharing
classes, so that each of the classes is exposed to different teaching
styles, differences of emphasis. We talk to each other regularly, and we
adjust our approach in the light of what has been happening in the
classes. Each year, our approach has changed, each week we subject our
work to fine-tuning. We are aware of these changes because we discuss
them together - we need to formalize them. The teacher who is working on
her own goes through the same process of adjustment, but does not
necessarily note the adaptations consciously. But they happen. They
happen because every class is different, every student is different, and
only the front-line teacher can fully take these differences into
account. No single method can take all of this into account.

In the end, when we talk about teaching, we have to be aware that it
comes down to *that* teacher, in *that* class, in *that* institution,
and with *those* objectives. And this means that at some stage we have
to trust to the teacher's abilities as a professional. Perhaps all
teachers do not earn that trust - there are shyster lawyers and bent
coppers too - but if we don't allow them the leeway to conduct their
classes in the light of their own judgement, why, we are preventing them
from doing the jobs which they are paid to do.

Timothy Mason


97/09 From-> JESSICA R MEISNER <>

I have read some of the horror stories here on FLTeach about teachers
using the TPR, TPRS method. These stories reflected how some of these
teachers were railroaded into leaving the school because "traditional"
teachers (teachers teaching strictly from the book) were not willing to
adapt to any type of new technique. The traditional teachers complained
to the administration that the "radical" teachers were not teaching
according to curriculum standards. Even when this was proven false, the
TPR method teacher was out of a job or had created a schism within that
FL department.

My question: (You're probably thinking: Finally).

What could a future teacher (me) do to allay the traditional teacher's
fears? I really don't want to step on many toes at the beginning. Maybe
my fear is empty. However, I had to ask. Has anyone had this experience?
Please elaborate. I plan to use TPR and TPRS next year when I start out
and I really don't want to have to conform to just doing plain old
textbook exercises. I am too proficiency oriented for that and want to
teach in a proficiency oriented atmosphere. I welcome your responses in

Jessica Meisner


97/09 From-> Timothy Mason <>

Hello Jessica

I would suggest that if you do want to be innovative, you put to one
side the image of the profession as being split between
'traditionalists', who go by the book and will jump on you if you do
anything else, and the 'good guys' who are up to date, enthusiastic,
bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. While there probably are a number of
teachers who do go for the quiet-life - given salary-levels, teaching
load, and administrative and employment practices, this should not
surprise us - some at least of those colleagues who are opposed to the
methods that you are interested in have excellent reasons for their
reticence. If you simply brush aside their objections, you will make
yourself enemies, and will probably find yourself marginalized and
ultimately embittered and burnt out. And sometimes the good guys are
pretty Stalinistic in their attitudes and their behaviour towards their

I would suggest introducing the techniques gradually ; in any case, if
the children are not used to them, this will give them time to adapt. It
will allow you to do good by stealth, without arousing unnecessary
hostility. In conversations with colleagues, listen to what they have to
say, and join in with your own stories about techniques that work - and
techniques that don't. Be willing to admit that you goofed.

This way, your enthusiasm may rub off on your colleagues, who will be
intrigued by what you are doing, rather than put off. Oh, and you might
- just might - learn the odd thing or two from all those old fogies.

Timothy Mason


97/09 From-> Susan Gross <>
 Subject: TPR Storytelling vs. Traditional

Jessica Meisner asks about entering a new school where "doing the book"
is the curriculum.

Jessica, you are wise to be cautious about this. I got a phone call last
night from yet another TPR Storytelling teacher who is thrilled with the
fluency of his level I students yet is getting flak from his colleagues.
His colleagues want him to do the book. This happens VERY often. When
teachers call me with this problem, I suggest that they try to work with
the "book followers". Among solutions that I have suggested and that
they have tried:

1. Test *all* the students in *all* the classes to see if there is any
teaching method-related inadequacy. (The results have so far been
interesting because the TPR Storytelling students perform at about the
same level as everyone else on discrete grammar items, but they speak,
read, understand, and write with *hugely higher* scores.)

2. Offer to show the other teachers how TPR Storytelling works, invite
them to observe your class.

3. Videotape your students when they are spontaneously speaking (NOT
delivering pre-practiced speeches)

4. Show writing samples of your students to the other teachers.

Interestingly, the "by the book" folks have not seemed to care much
about any of this.

In consideration of the conflicts which may arise, I do have a
suggestion for you: When you interview for a job, tell the department
and the principal how you plan to teach. It is unfair for them not to
know what you plan to do.

Susan Gross


97/09 From-> Ron Takalo <>

I have been reading all the posts about TPR and TPR storytelling, and
have to add my "dos centavos" at this point.

First of all, James Asher (father of TPR) said a couple of things in his
workshop that I attended that need to be stressed at this point. First,
he himself said that TPR is a STRATEGY and not a METHODOLOGY, the
difference being that a strategy is one way of teaching some things, but
does not purport to have all the answers for our methodological

Second, Asher also said "Beware the guru with one book". Amen - no one
strategy or methodology has all the answers.

That being said, I feel that some of us who have been around the block a
few times (I have taught Spanish in high school and college since 1966)
at times become so cynical that we don't believe there is anything new.
I for one love to try new approaches and ideas because I don't want to
become stale. For me, FLTEACH has been a godsend. Thanks to all of you,
I have learned many things and always hav e a friendly source for those
things that have puzzled me.

Ron Takalo


97/10 From-> Dawn Vernaza <>
Subject: TPRS question

I have just received information on TPRS and, after reading your
comments on it, am ready to jump in and start teaching this way.

However, I have a few questions. I am teaching 8th grade Spanish 1 and
am currently using the Paso a Paso A text. Is it a good idea for me to
switch gears now? Also, my students will feed into the high school and
be placed with students from another middle school where the teacher
teaches straight from the text and none of the high school teachers use
TPRS. Will my students be able to fit in easily? Can they go back to the
textbook method? I guess my main question is: Will I be doing my
students a disservice by using this method since they will move on to
the textbook and will be the only students who have been previously
exposed to TPRS?

Any advice will be greatly appreciated.

Dawn Vernaza


97/10 From-> Patricia Reynolds <>
Subject: Re: TPRS question

While in graduate school we spent a great deal of time discussing this
issue… we were many teachers from a variety of districts and basically
found that we were bound by our departments, their goals and
expectations… but ... we also found that for those who could not or
would not accept TPR/TPR-S that as a supplement in the class... or as an
extension of the text that it might reach some of the students that the
text did not...

Some suggestions that were presented..

1. Take 3-5 verbs from each lesson and teach them using TPR...use the
recombination method and continue to add verbs to your repertoire.. it is
simply reinforcement..

2. Use the unit vocabulary from the text and design a TPR story for

3. Choose some things that are traditionally difficult for most
students.. ser/estar.. develop a TPR/TPR-s lesson.. test conventionally
and see what the result is..

You need to decide to do this and then continue with it.. Since this is
your first experience, you may wish to see how well these enhancements
work for you before you jump in there.. One of the best methods I heard
about was not giving students the text for the first two weeks of
school... only TPR… then give them the text... and... they already know
what the words sound like and do. In your situation… don't throw the
baby out with the bath... and you are right to be sensitive to the needs
of your students for their future study and success….

Patricia Reynolds


97/11 From-> Janel Brennan <>
 Subject: Q:High School TPR-S techniques?

This is a question for all those of you who are using TPR-S at the high
school level for upper level classes:

I just got back from a great TPR-S workshop and really enjoyed learning
about this method. My question is, how are you all adapting it to upper
levels? I haven't purchased any of Blaine R's books yet and wonder if I
should start from there. I teach SPN Level's IV and V and would like to
use it in those classes but wonder if the stories would be too babyish
for them. How do you go about adapting stories for the upper levels? Do
you just create your own? Does anyone have any samples they could send
me? I'd appreciate it! I'm a little nervous about jumping right in with
TPR-S with my upper levels. Any suggestions?

Janel Brennan


97/11 From-> Peter Duckett <>
Subject: Re: TPRS question

>I was under the impression from attending Blaine's workshop and reading
>Blaine's books that students *should* be able to retell the story. Does the
>advice you give (see # 7 above) hold for high school students too?

Don't forget that just because kids can't do a complete retelling
replete with detail does not mean that they don't understand the story.
But that said, don't let that keep you from asking kids to do a
retelling. (I always tell them in advance that I'm going to pretend that
I've never heard the story before. Thus setting the imaginary rationale
for doing a retelling.) I work as a reading teacher in my elementary
school and can tell you that many children don't have a great deal of
experience with doing retellings anyway so this paucity of background
with the process can account for what may be interpreted as being
"unable to do a retelling". Without repeated invitations and repeated
attempts to do them, they probably won't ever be able to. So, keep
offering the invitation and rather than "remediating until they can do
the retelling properly" listen to what they do produce for what it can
tell you about their language development and collect information over
time to see if their retellings are becoming increasingly sophisticated.
By the way, I'm not convinced that the best retelling is one that has
all of the details in the sequence in which the text presents them. I
believe that a more sophisticated retelling comes in a synthesis of the
story in which a personal reflection is included.

Peter Duckett


97/12 From-> "Cynthia W. Johnson" <>
Subject: TPRS advice pls.

I attended a two day workshop by Blaine Ray last summer and am
anxious/apprehensive about trying the method out. I need to cover the
same vocab/grammar the other 5 Spanish teachers in my dept. do, so I
cannot just adopt Blaine's packaged units.

Would those of you who use the method pls. respond to this question:

Could children's short stories in Spanish be easily used for
storytelling? I'm thinking of the Little Red Hen for our animal unit for
example. Do those of you using the method write your own stories or do
you use Blaine's? How many stories do you do per semester? Is your
testing program totally vocabulary based?

Any info/advice would be helpful. I'm thinking about starting the new
semester in Jan. with a story.

Cindy Johnson


From: Richard Snyder < rjsnyder@GACS.PVT.K12.GA.US>
Subject: RE: TPRS advice pls.

My comment on TPRS is that it is very adaptable. I've been able to cover
more grammar/vocab this last semester than I did all last year. My
students can speak with a lot of fluency, and even if the grammar is
bad, they are not afraid to try and speak (i.e. to make up story, either
written or spoken).

I do use the stories that Blaine has in the books (especially the
mini-stories for the first few months), but you can make anything work.
I would look at the flow of vocabulary in his books and then adapt your
own stories to include some key grammar/vocab elements. For example, you
might want to make sure there is a direct object or a command in the Hen
story so the students can start hearing/practicing that. Now, you don't
tell them it's a direct object, but they will use it successfully
(better than how I spelled that word!).

For those of you who know German, you know how complicated grammar can
be, especially using direct objects (Akkusativ) for the first time. My
students use it just fine. Why? because they know what SOUNDS right; it
always brings a smile to my face to see a student correct himself or
have other students help that one along.

No, TPRS is not a cure all, but it works great for me. I'm sticking with

Richard Snyder


97/12 From-> Carol Gaab GAAB5 <>
Subject: Re: TPRS advice pls.

<<Could children's short stories in Spanish be easily used for

TPRS is a methodology-- not a curriculum. It can be used with ANY
book/ANY curriculum. If you are going to use short stories, first scan
the story for any new or more difficult vocab. Make your vocab list and
then break that list into chunks of 6 to 8 words. Teach and practice the
words in smaller groups until that group of words has been internalized.
For ex., if the words are:

runs, eats, cat, house, searches, bed----

introduce each word individually, giving a specific TPR response for
each word.

Runs-- run in place
eats-- bring hand to mouth and chew
cat-- meow

TPR practice:
The big cat. The small cat. The blue cat. One cat. Five cats....

Make up very short mini-stories with the words you are introducing.

<<<<There is a girl cat. She is black. There is another boy cat. He is
white. The boy cat sees the girl cat and says, "You are pretty." The
girl cat says, "I know." Then she runs away. The boy cat cries.>>>>>

(just an example created after 2-hours of sleep-- be nice. ;} )
Practice with mini-stories until students have internalized all the
vocab, then move on to.....

Main Story:
Practice the main story. Make sure the story is not too long. Students
should eventually be able to retell the story. If your story is several
pages, rewrite/shorten the story until it is a "retellable" length. Keep
practicing the story:

have students act in groups, act individually, volunteers act out parts.
tell story and have students fill in blanks, correct your errors, ID
what happens next.

ask questions:
yes/no, either/or, short-answer, open-ended, misc. comprehension-check

students practice telling story to a partner.

students tell story to class.

Again let me emphasize that TPRS can be used with any text. It takes
lots of planning and effort, but it is well worth it!! Another option is
to purchase smaller supplementary materials so that you don't have to do
all the work -- "chunking" and organizing vocab., coming up with the TPR
practice, inventing 10,000 mini-stories, creating illustrations, etc.
(If you want suggestions on inexpensive supplementary materials, please
e-mail me off list.)

Carol Gaab

97/09 From-> Barbara Hunter <>
Subject: Re: Help with TPRS

We have just begun to use TPRS in our Spanish department and have found
that when we are stumped for a gesture we turn to a book on American
Sign Language. It has wonderful & usually simple gestures for many
words. We tell our students that they are getting "two languages for the
price of one".

We have also had a great deal of help from students who know some basic
ASL signs or those who wish to learn. We have some upper level students
doing the research and teaching us the sign/gestures before we teach the
Spanish vocabulary. We really enjoy the process & we are learning a new
language at the same time, too.

Barbara Hunter


97/09 From-> Mike Miller <>
Subject: Re: Help with TPRS

>Is every word suppose to have a motion? This is my first try with TPRS, and
>I can't even do the TPR. What should I do??

Tell the kids the word and have them come up with a motion. They love
it! I also keep an American sign language "dictionary" available for the
more abstract words.

Mike Miller


97/09 From-> Julianne Baird <>
Subject: Re: TPR Storytellers: Need Advice

Dear Ann,

TPRing long lists of vocab words is boring for you and for the students.
Break down the list into manageable chunks (10 to 15 words a day) and
play with those words. Use novel commands, mini-situations and
mini-stories to reinforce those words. Have fun with the vocab. Getting
through the list should not be your goal. Instead the goal should be
internalizing the vocab and the students will appreciate the novel
commands and mini-stories to help them learn vocab in context - and
understand the vocab in context.

Good luck! TPR-S is daunting at first because it is so different but the
results are worth it.

Julianne Baird


97/09 From-> Shaun Duvalls  <>
Subject: Re: TPR Storytellers: Need Advice

Work with the idea of gestures for the words- kids love it when you act
stupid. Also drawings, particularly bad ones, they love ask them to
invent the gestures, and then ask them to make sentences using the
gestures. quiz them for a few minutes at the beginning of each hour.
There are also some good books by Contee Seely and another which I can't
remember, but if you email me directly, I can send you the titles. Quiz
the vocab by making a transparency and asking them to id the pics, or to
use the words in a sentence that describes the picture. More frequent,
smaller quizzes seem better than fewer, bigger ones.

Also, I might try only using tprs in one or two classes this year, and
then if successful, enlarge next year. It is demanding in many ways, and
requires a lot of you physically and emotionally. Start small, please,
and then you'll have more chance of long-term success. Keep a log of
what works and what doesn't, so you'll know what to plan for next year.

Shaun Duvalls


97/09 From-> Richard Snyder <>
Subject: Re: TPR Storytellers: Need Advice

I think yesterday was the first time it took me the whole 45 minute
class period to teach 12 words. It was so much fun.

I really went over the words, had them close their eyes, practice, do
novel commands. It was very exciting. I was teaching the words "pull,
hit, hair, grab, let go of" and reviewing some others.

For fun (pre-story) I had one boy pretend he was a caveman and I told
him that he thought one of the girls was pretty. So, like a good cave
man, he hit her on the head, grabbed her hair, and drug her away (really
by the hand, but he got the meaning).

Meanwhile, she is screaming "no, no." They could hardly do it they were
laughing so much (as was everyone), but they completely understood. The
only time I get puzzled looks is during novel commands; not that they
don't understand, but more "you really want me to grab his nose and pull
him to the ground?"

I really took my time with the words and practiced and practiced. I get
a couple of sighs, but I want to make sure most know it. Don't let the
couple of bad apples spoil the whole class. Just go with it. They like
this better any day than grammar (boring or not!). Good luck to all

Richard Snyder


97/09  From: Susan Gross <sgross@CMSD.K12.CO.US>
Subject: TPR Storytellers: Need Advice

Yes it is intimidating to start out using TPR Storytelling ... but it
is gratifying to see how eagerly and well the students speak!

You are right: long lists of vocabulary words are BORRRRRINGGGG!!

Remember the steps to teaching vocab in TPR Storytelling ?

1. gesture/ association
2. novel commands
3. personalized Q/A
4. personalized situations

That is what gives the class a sense of "fun" and "spontaneity."
Furthermore, that is what enables your students to recognize the vocab
word in the middle of discourse! That is also where you need to spend
your time preparing for class...the rest will work out if you REALLY
NAIL those steps. It takes time and practice to do a good job here. Be
sure to use student input!

You know, it floors me that the other day I had my 8th grade kids tell a
familiar story from various points of view. They didn't bat an eye, and
they were using direct and indirect object pronouns, reflexive verbs,
irregular big deal. It's only a burden if you decide to TEACH
GRAMMAR! My kids have not had a lesson on reflexive verbs, but they know
to say "il s'ennuie" and "tu t'ennuies" and "je m'ennuie." They know
what "il lui donne" means and "il me donne."

Now 100% of my kids don't know it, but then 100% never did when I TAUGHT
it as a lesson, either. Many of them use these expressions correctly in
spontaneous speech, and I count that as remarkable for kids in second
semester French I!

Susan Gross


97/10 From-> (Richard Snyder)

Subject: Re: TPR Storytelling

YEAH! Another one to discover the magic of TPR. My students are reading
a little story right now and making up a story board for it. They really
learn a lot; they know @150 words so far and have NEVER sat down and
memorized them.

Richard Snyder


97/11 From-> Colleen Kriedel <>
Subject: TPR Storytelling

Thanks to some great details previously posted on FLTEACH, I've begun
using the TPR-S method with my 4th graders. They love it!! But now I'm

We've retold the story a few times, acted in out, done some sentence
stripping and I'm beginning to sense a tinge of boredom. Oh no! Yet,
they're not ready to retell it on their own nor are they ready to change
the ending.

What's my next step? Help! I don't want to ditch this this a
developmental problem?

Colleen Kriedel


97/11 From-> Peter Duckett <>
Subject: Re: TPR Storytelling

Colleen Kriedel wrote:

>Thanks to some great details previously posted on FLTEACH, I've begun
>using the TPR-S method with my 4th graders. They love it!! But now I'm
>We've retold the story a few times, acted in out, done some sentence stripping
>and I'm beginning to sense a tinge of boredom. Oh no! Yet, they're not ready
>to retell it on their own nor are they ready to change the ending.
>What's my next step? Help! I don't want to ditch this this a
>developmental problem?
>Thanks for any help you can offer!
>Colleen Kriedel

Try asking them to do a retelling by taking the sentence strips and
sequencing them and then reading them out loud. You can also cut up the
sentence strips and ask groups to work collaboratively to put them back
together in a way that uses all of the pieces (or not) in order to make
a message. I'm currently doing this with my 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders.
They like it a lot. I do this with packets of photocopied stories in
which I've separated and mixed up the pictures and the sentences so that
in groups the students have to re-match them and then read the story to
see if it sequences logically and if it all makes sense.

After that I have them move on to having to do what I described above
with the sentences cut up. But I spread the entire story out over the
whole class so that once all of the sentences are put back together, we
can sequence the whole story once again. It is time consuming but really
works well for keeping grammar and meaning together and not separating
them out.

Oops! I almost forgot, you can also have kids take individual sentences
from the story and act them out, kind of like charades, and have the
other kids try to figure out which part they are acting. This gives them
a real reason to use the language whether it is read aloud or remembered
and shared orally. We also do "reader's theatre" in which someone reads
the story aloud and the students act out the story using body movement
which is appropriate to the language that they are hearing. This is an
assessment tool at the same time that it is a learning activity. It
helps you know what they do understand and what they still need more
experiences with. By the way, I forgot to add in my last posting that
the information that you can get from listening in on the conversations
of kids sorting through the matching and sentence constructing activity
is remarkable and it really helps me know what concepts and
misconceptions my kids have about language.

Peter Duckett


97/11 From-> Susan Gross <>
Subject: TPR Storytelling

Colleen asks about extension activities with young learners. Have you
retold the story while inviting the students to chorally respond to you:
1. using yes/no and either/or questions for each step of the story 2.
making mistakes in the story so that they have to correct you 3. Pausing
in the retelling so that they have to fill in the blank. This is a good
way to get them to begin speaking.

Give a little true-false quiz on the story. Only ten questions or so.
the can mark "yes or no" on a scrap of paper, go over the "quiz" with
the whole group, inviting them to correct false sentences. This also
leads them toward speaking.

Do you have a drawing for each phase of the story? If no, then retell
the story with the kids in groups and a nice pieace of paper with
colors. Each group illustrates a portion of the story while you narrate
it. Then each group shows their illustration to the class and retells
that portion.

Put the illustrations on the tray of the chalkboard and tell a portion
of the story. Kids indicate which illustration you were describing. (Can
be a paper-pencil quiz if you prefer)

Invite volunteers to tell just one drawing's worth of the story.

Then instruct them to tell each illustration to their partners.

Once they have done all this, it is easy to get a few volunteers to tell
the whole story, using the illustrations as props. Be sure to vary the
story a bit each time so that it is natural language, not memorizing!

Susan Gross


97/11 From-> Gale Mackey <>
Subject: Re: FLTEACH Digest - 18 Nov 1997

It is hard to start teaching tprs cold turkey. Just from instructions
that you got on the list. Until you get the chance to go to a
full-fledged tprs workshop. Try the following

1. Hand gesturing each word in a pre determined word list.

2. Look for quick response time when you start delaying the gestures for
the words.

3. Try personalizing every word. Relate each word to some students life.

4. Tell a little tiny story with every word.

5. Get the kids to help you create the story by letting them supply
verbiage for the parts of the story that are non-essential to the story

6. Remember that it takes 4th graders a lot longer than 6th graders to
have success verbally.

7. Remember that it does not matter if they are able to retell the story
as long as they are understanding it. (have them repeat the story in
English to check comprehension.) Even the tiny stories (or mini

8. Make sure that the kids have around 150 words under their belt taught
to them by classical tpr. Before attempting Storytelling (This is my own
personal bias) some say to do stories from the get go.

9. Have fun with your stories. (A simple story with only one or two target
words that makes the class chuckle. Is worth much much much more than a
longer story that does not interest the kids.

10. After having taught six or seven words with gestures, novel
sentences, personalized mini situations and having told two or three
times the mini story attached to the vocabulary that you have been
teaching two or three times (and some kids have acted out the story at
least once as you have told it.) Test one of your slower kids by having
them verbally translate into English each word from the target list that
you orally fire at them in the target language. (Reaction time is a
good way to judge how well these kids have assimilated the words. Those
words that this "class barometer " misses are the words you should
reteach by going through as many of the above mentioned steps as
possible with a much smaller list of words. You can bet that if this
student missed some words that a good many others also did. Then you
reteach the words (same as above). By test time 80 % of the students in
the class should get a 80 percent or better. if not, something went
wrong, and it is up to you to reteach the words that were not

PS: have fun with your kids with short zany weird stories and include
your students in the stories. The variety and personal interest in the
stories will keep the boredom away for most.

Gale Mackey


97/11 From-> Patricia Jane Long <>
Subject: TPRS, Kriedel,Mackey

Dear Coleen, Gale and others:

I recently attended a TPRS workshop in Phila and am by no means an
expert, but the barometer test modeled did not involve English. Students
(we) responded using the hand gesture or physical connection, with no

To guage whether all have internalized the meaning, it was suggested to
have the class close their eyes and respond physically. The teacher
gives the vocab one by one, asking for the gesture, then gives the vocab
in pairs, then in threes, in different combinations. And faster and
faster. It shows who has it and who doesn't and where further practice
is needed.

Use of English, I would say, is up to you! Given the age level, your
style, etc.


P.S. Being minimally trained, yet interested, I'm curious as to how
those of us who use TPRS started the ball rolling in our classes.
Without materials, launching an experiment perhaps? Tried a self-created
lesson based on what? the next lesson in the text? Or a reprise of
already learned material with a half dozen new, great expressions? Does
anyone wish to share his/her first attempt and knowledge/experience

Experience is a wonderful thing. It enables you to recognize a mistake
when you make it again.


97/12 From-> Jim Conway <>
Subject: Reading Scholastic

After attending a TPRS workshop, I bought some Scholastic books in
Spanish; The Class Clown, The Class President, and the first 3 Goose
Bumps. In my Spanish 3's and 4's we are reading The Class Clown
together, then they'll be doing more reading on their own. I have been
very surprised at the students' enthusiasm to read these books. I have
never seen such enthusiasm when reading target language literature. I
would prefer to be reading authentic target language literature, so that
students would be learning more about culture as they are learning to
read in L2.

I have read all the books and I now understand why the students enjoy
them. The stories are funny and entertaining. If I can increase their
language acquisition, by having them read these books, then I think it
is well worth it. The stories are 3rd to 4th grade reading level in
English. The books are hard for 3rd & 4th level students, but not too
hard. The books are 100+ pages in length. The font is big, because they
are written for little kids. The books took me about 2 hours a piece to
read and I'm a slow reader.

Blaine Ray said that he now has students read 8 books in 3rd year and 8
books in 4th year. That much reading must increase students language
acquisition. Also I would think it would better prepare them to read
authentic target language literature.

Jim Conway


97/12 From-> Janice Miyata <jmiyata@NIAGARANET.NPIEC.ON.CA>
Subject: TPR Storytelling

I have just given a unit test to my beginning German students and I am
thrilled with the results. I taught the unit via 4 mini-stories that I
created to go along with my textbook. We had lots of fun with the
stories in class and the only complaint was that my shopping expedition
stories always have unhappy endings (the shoes didn't fit, the money was
forgotten at home, the size was wrong, etc.).

So for the test I drew a story on the board and left the last frame
blank. The students were to tell the story and give it a happy ending.
This is the first time in my teaching career that there have been no
groans about having to write a story. The students wanted to know how
long it could be!!

Every story was comprehensible ...even the weakest students were able to
get their message across. Every story was very different and that means
that the kids had not just memorized sentences, but that they really
knew what they were saying. I am so pleased that I have discovered TPR
Storytelling. It is fun for all of us in the classroom and I see the
students thriving on it. They really can communicate!

Janice Miyata

97/12 From-> Carol Gaab <>
Subject: TPRS

<< I think it has wonderful possibilities and is very exciting, but is
>it really a good idea to have TPRS as the entire curriculum. >>

Yes, absolutely, IF
1. you approach with 100% dedication and commitment.
2. you have been thoroughly trained in the method.

If you are luke warm about the whole concept, or if you really aren't
sure about how to proceed with the materials you have, relying on TPRS
completely is obviously not the best solution. TPRS is (should be) well
planned, organized and methodical. With good planning/strategy, TPRS- by
itself- is more than enough.

>From my own experience, I KNOW the method works. I have gotten results
>that I never dreamed were possible. I have complete confidence in the method
>and approach teaching KNOWING that my students will succeed.

I rely on TPRS in our workshops too-- each workshop begins with a
participatory demonstration during which participants learn a "mystery"
language via TPRS. Anyone out there (who has been to a workshop)
remember what a zeev or tsipoor is?

Finally, unless you have good training in the method, it would be
difficult to teach effectively with TPR S. It would also be a little
difficult to have complete confidence in the method without proper
training/education on how to use it.

This is how I started: I went to a TPRS workshop in March and was
convinced the method would be successful. I came back to school ready to
"experiment" with ONE class. After one week the class begged for more--
my other classes started asking for TPRS too, because they kept hearing
about this great thing the other class was doing. By the end of March I
was "experimenting" with all of my classes. Since this was supposed to
be an "experiment," I tried to go back to regular class, but the
students were adamant about continuing with the "experiment." Although
the "experiment" was a great success, I must admit I made lots of
mistakes and wasn't very good at TPRS. I practiced that spring and began
the next school year with a TPRS curriculum in place. Yes, 1 00% TPRS. I
built a strong, successful, popular FL program-- one of the most
rewarding times in my teaching career.

Carol Gaab


97/12 From-> Susan Gross <>
Subject: TPR Storytelling

Someone asked about using TPR Storytelling as a full curriculum. Yes, it
can be a complete methodology. **BUT I would caution you** that if your
experience with TPR Storytelling is a conference session, you do not
have the full picture and you will *NOT* want to use it as your primary
methodology. One session which I attended turned TPR Storytelling into a
guessing game and made a student cry in front of the audience.

Another session which I attended showed the story-telling part and the
fun part. I have given sessions like that, too. It shows the excitement,
but it does not teach a teacher how to implement the method. Teachers
who actually are successful at implementing the method get full training
from a workshop. The two-day workshops provide a complete training

I am as guilty as anyone of getting so enthusiastic about it after my
first experience that I couldn't wait to show it to everyone. I had not
been fully trained, particularly in how to teach reading, writing, or
grammatical accuracy using TPR Storytelling. I think my enthusiasm
coupled with my ignorance resulted in some teachers thinking I was nuts
and the method was nothing more than fluff!

If you would like to get the "full" picture without attending a two-day
workshop, you might want to get the NEW video (not the old one. The NEW
one is the Tahoe training workshop last August). The new video is $40
and shows the steps for the storytelling part of the method. Then the
book "Fluency through TPR Storytelling" ($15) will fill in most of the
other considerations like:

how to teach composition writing
how to move from story telling to conversational language how to teach
grammatical accuracy
how to prepare for the AP test
how to get your students to read novels (fluent reading, not "dictionary

Susan Gross


97/12 From-> Mary Mueller
Subject: Re: The explicit teaching of vocab in tprs

From my experience, I feel that you need to work on both simultaneously.
I attended a seminar in an immersion program with a linguist teach whose
presentation dealt with acquiring language, and she said it takes
approximately 50 times of seeing a word before it enters long term
memory. Also, in my own experience it was important to repeatedly use
the vocabulary word in context (with rhythm & structure) to make it

Mary Mueller

97/04 From-> Margery Rossi <>
Subject: TPR Storytelling

Inspired by the amount of enthusiasm this technique has generated by
various members of the list I was anxious to give it a try. I wasn't
able to find any of the books or tapes mentioned so I went by the
various very good explanations I found on the list. My class is a high
school class of Italian commerce students who, though they have been
studying English for a number of years, are really very, very weak.

I told a short story - about five or six sentences, gesturing as much as
possible and having them gesture as well after the first time. I told it
straight about 4 times and with mistakes, which they were fairly quick to
correct, once. Then I had them retell it to each other in pairs. After
that one member of each pair told the story for the whole class.

My question is, how accurate should the re-telling have been? The bare
details of the story was there in most cases but most of the verb
tenses, for example, were incorrect, and they rarely used the new words
that I had pre taught. Also there were a number of holes. I assume I
wasn't aiming for an exact replica but how tolerant should I have been?
And what can you suggest for a better output? Of course they themselves
realized that they weren't telling it as I told it but I explained to
them that this is what is meant by negotiation of language!

Margery Rossi


97/08 From-> Irene Moon <>
Subject: TRP Storytelling

Had such a fun day today! Wanted to begin using TPR this year after a
workshop in May, but I've felt it was difficult to sort out.

Anyway, yesterday I introduced the Airport vocab I wanted to use and we
did some question things. Today I began with having them list cosas en
el aeropuerto, en el avion sm. grps. Then I taught the was so easy once I got started. (My text does TPR with
"Touch the plane, the ticket using a transparency) That always seemed
kind of dumb to me. So I planned these things:

airplane = arms extended and moving like wings
rd. trip ticket = turning "around"
maleta = leaning forward holding imaginary suitcase
2 maletas = leaning over holding 2 suitcases
asiento = sort of like a curtsey, a pretend sit down
by the window = neck craned out, looking down
by the aisle = one leg stretched out
in the centro = shoulders squished together

etc. We really had some fun!
We even did vuelo direct + arm bent and then shoots forward
escala = arm bent, dip down., raise up

Can anyone give me an idea for " auxiliar de vuelo"?

I made up a story using all the words, I'll tell the class while a
student acts it out and then they all tell story in unison with actions.
Then they tell the story to 2 other students.

Irene Moon


97/08 From-> Richard Snyder <>
Subject: Re: All by myself  TPR

I've been doing TPR now for two weeks with beginning and advanced
students. You can do it for a long time, as long as you are creative. If
you want to read more about TPR, check out Blaine Ray and James Asher.
The idea is that you teach basic commands and then make novel ones:

Stand up!
Sit down!
Point to the chair.
Point to the table.
Sit on the table.
Stand on the chair.
Point to the ceiling.

Stand on the ceiling [this one always makes some kid stick his rear
toward the ceiling, and all laugh] The kids learn what you mean and like
it better than "memorization".

If you are at a loss for activities, Asher (more scientific) and Ray
(more practical) have great tips!

Richard Snyder


97/08 From-> Susan Gross <>
Subject: TPR Storytelling

Sounds like you had a good time with the airplane vocabulary. Great!
When you can't think of a gesture for a word, just ask the kids. They
come up with super ideas.

Chances are they need a few verbs in this chapter, also, so include them
in your TPR lesson. (take off, land, fly, cross) After you tell the
story and have kids act it out, then "milk" the story by re-telling it
with questions, fill in the blanks, and mistakes. Let them "flesh out"
the story with goofy details and exaggerations to make it feel like
their own story. Don't be afraid to be silly!

Susan Gross

G. Evaluation in TPR and TPRS

97/04 From-> Julianne Baird <>
Subject: Re: TPR Storytelling--re-telling stories

>How do you assess? Do you give homework? When does reading start?
>These are the most popular questions. Any response?

I use TPR-Storytelling and I definitely assess. My students receive
several homework sheets over the story. One or two practice the vocab
and the other worksheets cover the story. These worksheets contain
true/false statements, open ended questions, questions pertaining to the
story, etc. When test time comes around every story has 3 tests: 2
written tests and 1 oral test. The oral test is simple. They look at a
copy of the pictures and have to tell me the story. I have the kids tell
the story into a mini-tape recorder. A friend of mine has the students
come up to her desk while the students are working on something else.

The first written test measures their knowledge of vocab and their
reading ability. I take the story they have learned and change it just a
little. The kids read this new version and answer questions about the
story. The second test is simply writing out the main story from memory
with no notes. I put the transparency of the story (pictures only) on
the overhead and the kids write down the story. It is incredible to see
how much first year students can write when they know the story.

Occasionally I also give a quiz. This is either a true/false quiz over
the main story or it is short answer. There are lots of ways to assess

Julianne Baird


97/04 From-> Carol Gaab <>
Subject: Re: TPR Storytelling--re-telling stories

<<How do you assess? Do you give homework? When does reading start?
>These are the most popular questions. Any response?>>

You bet!

Yes, I assess:

1st - assess vocab. retention with a simple quiz--might be written,
might be an "eyes-closed" test in which students do correct TPR action.
(Span to Eng, Eng to Span, read word-write transl., "say" word-write
transl., show picture-write word/expression/phrase, etc.)

After the vocab. step and TPR practice, tell the story, several times
with a little variety each time--partner practice--retell, practice.
After hearing the story several times from the teacher and students,
have students write the story. The whole process should take 3 to 5
days. (The more time you spend the better.)

You'd be amazed at how well the students do at writing--(we're talking
about literate students, not ESL/ bilingual who have a difficult time in
their first lang.)

Reading/writing starts once vocab. has been internalized and students
are (with ease) able to retell a story. Some students can do it after
ONE listen. Some students take 10. Tell the story, a few "ready"
students tell story, partners practice story, group activity with story,
teacher practices story with students, students CAN TELL story--
students WRITE story.....after 3 to 5 days after introducing
vocab./story, depending on length of story and difficulty of vocab.
(To get the reading process started, I practice with sight-vocab., but
ONLY after Vocab. has been internalized!)

Assess their writing-- Could they use all (target) vocab.? Was the
message comprehensible? Was the basic structure of the lang. there? (I
only take off points if their structure/grammar error impede the
understanding of their message.) How was their spelling?

Each time I might be focussing on a specific item. For example, I might
have introduced quiere, plus an infinitive. Were they able to use that
new structure in the story? Quiere comer....Quiere salir... etc. If they
can, I might add points.

Assess ALL areas: listening comp. Put pictures on the overhead. (#1 -#6)
Which picture am I describing? El muchacho corre a la montana......La
muchacha se lava las manos....etc. do they understand? Obviously you
would use target-vocab. pictures.

Asses verbal skills. Show pictures to a story---Can the student tell the
story--comprehensibly... Assess the level: Is it broken, but
comprehensible? Can they correctly use pronouns, prepositions, etc. ?
Could they use the new structure introduced?

Very simply (for ex. only.):
No knowledge of vocab., completely NONcomprehensible = F
Little knowledge of vocab., somewhat comprehensible = D
Broken lang., but comprehensible = C
Good lang., structure, easy-to-understand message = B
Good lang., structure, easy-to-understand, more advanced structures
used and added "spice" to the original message = A

Exercises-- fill in the blank, write an ending to a story, here's the
ending;how did the story start?, verbal stories/ presentations,
Reading--ask quest. about the reading, open-ended quest.

Study vocab., write a story, do some of the above exercises, write and
original story using specific expressions/vocab., illustrate a story and
come back to class ready to tell it, etc., etc., etc.

This is really difficult to give a clear, step-by-step description via
e-mail--- hope it helps....
(Any other questions?)

Carol Gaab
TPR Storytelling Network


97/09 From-> Michael Kundrat <>
Subject: Grading warmups/TPRStorytelling

Julie Baird wrote:
>The difference is TPR-Storytelling. With this method, my students do so
>much more for the pure fun of it!!! It still shocks me how much my students
>do in class and the best part is that I am having fun too.

I have to tell everyone how much I agree! If you want as many of your
students to learn as much as possible in the time you're given...and if
you and they want to have fun while you're doing it, then please look
into TPR Storytelling. There are workshops given by different people
around the country, and they should be worth your time. If there's one
near you...go!

And please know that "TPR" (does that count as shouting?) is not quite
the same thing, for those of you who have had experience with that
technique. Storytelling builds on it and goes well beyond...enabling
your students to do more than you thought possible.

I know that doesn't quite solve the problem of how to get reluctant
students to might try a participation grade for that. This is
sort of the "big picture" answer.

Michael Kundrat


97/09 From-> "James C. May" <>
Subject: Re: TPR success question

<<James, could you be a little more explicit about how you test them?
>I'm not sure that I understood the process ; it may be that the test is
>inappropriate to the method.>>

Quick example: I taught them 5 commands (stand up, sit down, turn
around, walk and stop). I then had the class and then individuals do it.
Then I had them draw the pictures to match the command I was telling
them. We corrected the paper in class. The next day I reviewed the
commands again and then had them draw after hearing the command again
for a grade.

<<You say that 8/140 are not doing well. Do you usually get better
>results than this? >>

No. But I do remember someone saying (perhaps at a workshop) that TPR by
its very nature should make every student successful. And our principal
said at the beginning of the year that he would hold teachers
accountable if students had good attendance but were failing a class.
Maybe I let that "threat" get to me more than it should have.

James C. May


97/09 From-> Carol Gaab <>
Subject: Re: TPR success question

<<I will say "Point to the window with a pencil" and they have to draw
>it. We will have been working on the words "window" and "pencil" for
>about two days. They have heard (and practiced) "Point" for about a week
>now. I am wondering if I should continue with TPR if 100% of the
>students are not successful.>>

No matter how or what you teach you are always going to have some
students who need some "TLC." If those "problem" students seem to
understand in class, appear to have internalized the vocab and can
respond with the appropriate (TPR) response, then try giving the quiz in
another format.

These are the ways I quiz:

1. CLOSED-EYE/ TPR test: Break class into "quizzing partners." It is the
partners' responsibility to monitor each other's responses on the quiz.
I usually have 10 students at a time take the quiz. Students who aren't
"on" should be watching/studying for the quiz. I dock points if students
don't accurately monitor their partner. The whole process helps students
internalize the vocab even more.

2. PICTURE TEST: I show pictures and have students write the words in
the target language. In the beginning of the year I might put the needed
words (a word bank) on the board or overhead-- I'll have the words
written until I'm sure they can spell the words accurately.

3. TRANSLATION TEST: (Written test)
Target language to English-
In the beginning of the year I will put words on overhead and read/say
each word as they write their answers. (--in case some haven't quite
mastered reading in the target lang.)
English to Target lang.-
In the beginning of the year I might put the words needed on the board
or overhead. They take the words from the word bank and fill them in as
needed. (To make it more difficult, I usually add a couple of extra
words that won't be used.)

All of my students- excellent to struggling- respond differently to all
the different ways I test. I try to make it fair to all types of
learners, so I use a different type of test every time. (My students
enjoy the variety and have a lot of fun guessing how I'm going to test
each time.) Obviously, if a student is not doing well on any type of
test, I need to find out why. Was it me? Is there a learning problem? Is
there another obstacle that is preventing the student from internalizing
the vocab? (My success rate is usually 98 to 99%, and those who don't do
well usually have a problem- LD, EH or DDA- that's Don't Do Anything. )

Also, if students are having difficulties remembering words, try
ASSOCIATIONS. For example arana means spider in Spanish- my assoc. is
"SPIDER S 'are on ya'- Get it? arana - are on ya... Works great for some
students, and many enjoy trying to "out-do" my associations.

Carol Gaab


97/09 From-> Mary E Young <>
Subject: Re: TPR success question


Could the instruction to "point to the window" be confusing them, when
the verb you really want them to perform is to draw? Do you want them to
draw a pencil pointing to a window? This may be kind of abstract for
them to deduce. I'll bet they have learned what you want them to, but
might be having trouble with the format of the test.

What if you provide a page of drawings of items they know and tell them
to write the number by the item and follow the directions you give. So,
for item number 1, you say "Point to the window with a pencil" and they
write the number "1" next to the picture of someone pointing to the
window with a pencil. You might want some other window/pencil
combinations on the page, too, so you can tell if they understand

You could get the drawings by giving that as a homework assignment -- to
draw a person doing the commands you have given them in writing. This is
pretty good practice, too. When you collect them make some variations on
some of them, choose the best (?) ones, reduce them on the photocopier,
and cut and paste them into a format that you like.

Easier to grade: assign a letter to each picture and provide a list of
numbered blanks down the side of the page. Then all you have to do is
check to see their letters are right.

Maybe this will work.
Mary Young


97/09 From-> Irene Moon <>
Subject: TPR Verb Question

O.K. you TPR practitioners... need some help.

Earlier I posted that we had told a story about Princesa en el
aeropuerto and this week and last she was in the hotel and now we have
her visiting the sites en Mexico D. F. Kids are using preterite verbs
for Subio en ascensor, entro en su habitacion, deshizo su maleta, puso
la ropa en el armario etc....

I did orals on the TRP story for first part. Yesterday I had the kids order
the activities (gave full sentences), told them to review/study and I gave
them almost same sentences on a transparency and they had to supply the
correct form of the verb. Most did well, and we have been doing some
conjugating also... but I probably had 4 (20-23% whose work was not, in
my opinion, satisfactory. On their papers I indicated they might retake this
quiz.  What do you do? I cannot go all TPR, for there are 3 other Spanish
teachers who are not using it. It was really fun.. we had Princesa, as a
variation, going to Mex. with one of the kids in class nad ella toco el
piano en el disco del hotel y Josh canto....

Kids are enjoying this, but I can see that there may be a gap between
what they can say and what they can write. Please explain how to narrow
the gap.

Irene Moon


97/09 From-> Nilsa Sotomayor <>
Subject: Re: TPR Verb Question

For assessment, but some of the kids might feel comfortable acting out
the story, or illustrating it. Perhaps some of them might like to be
mimes. Maybe creating a timeline, a computer game about the story. Making
a comic book would be interesting to some of our students. For those
linguistically inclined, re-writing the story in another century might
get them going.

Practicing the future, some might want to predict what could have
happened in ten years. For the students with musical ability, writing
and singing a song about the story. I guess anything that might enable
them to prove that they indeed understood the story and learned
everything that needed to be learned. I'm just throwing some ideas.

Nilsa Sotomayor


97/09 From-> "James C. May" <>
Subject: Re: TPRS-Grading Categories

<<TPRS'ers, What are your grading categories and percentages? My first 3
>days of TPRS have gone well; I can't quite believe it. Thanks for all
>your help.>>

I am following the suggestion of Shirley Ogle: 25% homework, 25%
participation, 25% quizzes and 25% tests.

James May

H. Resources in TPR and TPRS

94/11 From-> Dorothy Rissel <INSRISS@UBVMS.BITNET>
Subject: Effectiveness of TPR

Although I have seen and heard claims for the effectiveness of TPR, or at
least of a silent period in which input is high and students are not
pushed to respond in the TL, research is scant.

Richard Amato in Making It Happen (Longman) claims that a silent period
has been shown to be useful, but doesn't cite references.

There is at least one experiment done by Asher on TPR published in
Methods That Work (Oller). It is a reprint of an article that first
appeared in the MLJ. I believe there was an article by David Wolfe on
TPR published in the 80's, probably in Foreign Language Annals.

Dorothy Rissel


94/11 From-> "Dr. Joel Goldfield" <>
Subject: Re: TPR & listening comp.

For more info on studies on the effectiveness of TPR, see John W. Oller,
Jr.'s 2nd edition of _Methods That Work_ (c) 1993 Heinle & Heinle.

Joel Goldfield


94/11 From-> "Cynthia K. Gerstl" <>
Subject: TPR

I use TPR very frequently in my teaching. Coincidentally, I just attended
a workshop with Berty Segal (in Philadelphia). she has written many of
the TPR manuals (in case you are not familiar with her work). I found
the workshop very helpful!

I know of no specific testing or studies involving testing other than
the original research by Asher. I do find that what I teach my students
through TPR seem to be more internalized than what I teach through other

Cindy Gerstl


95/03 From-> Gladys Lipton <>
Subject: Re: defense of my complaint about TPR

I have found TPR to be extremely valuable for FL students at ALL levels,
including adults. Somewhere, (and see if you can help me with this)
probably Asher and before him, Gouin, said that language learning
includes both cognitive and physical, and the physical reinforces the
cognitive. I hope I got that right! In any event, in defense of TPR, I
don't go for just simple "go to the board, etc." I think TPR works best
when it has creative things for students to do, and where, from time to
time there is some humor, and maybe a few surprises. Here's where you
teach your students to create their own TPR sequences.

There's an ESL book called -Actions- ...I'll have to look up the
reference, and that has interesting TPR sequences on a variety of

Gladys Lipton


96/08 From-> Nilsa Sotomayor  <>
Subject: Re: TPR with large groups in small rooms

After I came back from a seminar with Dr. Asher, I began incorporating
TPR (Total Physical Response) in my classes.

Dr. Asher also has some ready made kits. If you have some extra money
(ha,ha,ha) you can order these:

James J. Asher
Sky Oaks Productions, Inc.
P.O. Box 1102
Los Gateos, California 95031

He also publishes some wonder books to help you. Ramiro Garcia is
another teacher who has an excellent TPR book out. I will send more
information on TPR.

Nilsa Sotomayor


96/10 From-> Nilsa Sotomayor
Subject: Re: TPR German text

 I use TPR. I have most of D. Asher's TPR books. One of them is by a
German teacher. This is a very good TPR book.

TITLE: Comprehension Based Language Lessons-Level 1 BY: Margaret S.
Woodruff, Ph.D
Published: Sky Oaks Productions, Inc.
P.O. Box 1102
Los Gatos, California 95031
Write me if you need further info.

Nilsa Sotomayor


96/11 From-> Ron Takalo <>

A good place to start learning about TPR is to get/purchase James
Asher's book, Learning another Language Through Actions: the Complete
Teacher's Guidebook (Sky Oak Productions, P.O. Box 1102, Los Gatos, CA
95031). I think it is in about it's fifth edition by now. I attended a
workshop by Asher a number of years ago, and I employ several of his
techniques. I understand that recently someone has taken his strategy
(Asher does not like to refer to TPR as a method) and added some
interesting twists.

Ron Takalo


96/11 From-> Virginia Jackson <>

Blaine Ray has developed a technique called TPR Storytelling, which
builds on Asher's system. Sky Oaks also publishes his work, and people I
know who use it say it's what really helped their students learn to
apply what they learned under classical TPR. Good luck!-

Ginny Jackson


96/11 From-> Nilsa Sotomayer

I use the following books and materials:

1. Total Physical Response in First Year Spanish by Francisco Cabello
(this book has 83 lessons in Spanish)
2. Learning Another Language Through Actions: The Complete Teacher's
Guidbook by James Asher, Ph.D. (the equivalent to the Cabello book--in
3. The Command Book by Stephen Mark Silvers
4. Spanish Grammar through Action by Eric Schessler
5. Comprehension Based Language Lessons by Margaret Woodruff,
6. The Graphics Book by Ramiro Garcia
7. Brainswitching-A Skill for the 21st Century by James Asher
8. Viva la Accion-Live Action Spanish by Contee Seely and Elizabeth
9. TPR Is More Than Commands--At All Levels by Seely and Romijn
10. TPR Bingo by Ramiro Garcia

Books # 1-8 you can get at:

Sky Oaks Productions, INC
P.O. Box 1102
Los Gatos, CA 95031

Books #9-10 you can get at Gessler

In the Cabello book, you have all the directions you need.

Nilsa Sotomayer


97/08 From-> Mary E Young <>
Subject: Re: TPR

There are some textbooks in French and Spanish that I know of that take
you through a year of TPR (or two):

Le francais par l'intermediaire de la reponse physique totale
by Lia Raileanu in Irvine CA (no more address is given. Date 1984 for
4th ed.)

Ensenando el espanol por medio de Accion; Aprendemos el espanol por
medio de accion; L'Enseignement du Francais au moyen de l'Action;
Deutschunterricht Durch Handeln;
and Teaching Foreign Language Part II - Speaking, Reading, Writing
(with samples in German, French, Spanish
all by Bertha Segal
Berty Segal, Inc.
1749 Eucalyptus St.
Brea CA 92621
(714) 529-5359

These were printed around 1983.

Mary Young


97/09c From-> (Richard Snyder)
Subject: RE: ISO TPR Drawings

"The Graphics Book" by Ramiro Garcia (available in Spanish, French,
German, and English--maybe more) available from SkyOaks Productions, Inc.
408-395-7600. They carry everything out by Blaine too.

Richard Snyder


97/09 From-> Julianne Baird <>
Subject: Re: ISO TPR Drawings

>I wonder if any of you have found a good source for stick-figure drawings or
>clip art of the usual activities taught in beginning classes using TPR (stand up,
>sit down, point to the window, etc.).

Sky Oakes the TPR specialists sell a graphics book that has lots of
stick figure drawings in lots of different combinations. It is available
in several languages.

Julianne Baird


97/10 From-> Jody Klopp
Subject: Re: Tell me about TPR

Dr. Jim Asher' s web address is
You can find some information about TPR there.

Jody Klopp



97/12 From-> Carol Gaab <>
Subject: TPRS

<< I think it has wonderful possibilities and is very exciting, but is
>it really a good idea to have TPRS as the entire curriculum. >>

Yes, absolutely, IF
1. you approach with 100% dedication and commitment.
2. you have been thoroughly trained in the method.

If you are luke warm about the whole concept, or if you really aren't
sure about how to proceed with the materials you have, relying on TPRS
completely is obviously not the best solution. TPRS is (should be) well
planned, organized and methodical. With good planning/strategy, TPRS- by
itself- is more than enough.

>From my own experience, I KNOW the method works. I have gotten results
>that I never dreamed were possible. I have complete confidence in the method
>and approach teaching KNOWING that my students will succeed.

I rely on TPRS in our workshops too-- each workshop begins with a
participatory demonstration during which participants learn a "mystery"
language via TPRS. Anyone out there (who has been to a workshop)
remember what a zeev or tsipoor is?

Finally, unless you have good training in the method, it would be
difficult to teach effectively with TPR S. It would also be a little
difficult to have complete confidence in the method without proper
training/education on how to use it.

This is how I started: I went to a TPRS workshop in March and was
convinced the method would be successful. I came back to school ready to
"experiment" with ONE class. After one week the class begged for more--
my other classes started asking for TPRS too, because they kept hearing
about this great thing the other class was doing. By the end of March I
was "experimenting" with all of my classes. Since this was supposed to
be an "experiment," I tried to go back to regular class, but the
students were adamant about continuing with the "experiment." Although
the "experiment" was a great success, I must admit I made lots of
mistakes and wasn't very good at TPRS. I practiced that spring and began
the next school year with a TPRS curriculum in place. Yes, 1 00% TPRS. I
built a strong, successful, popular FL program-- one of the most
rewarding times in my teaching career.

Carol Gaab


97/12 From-> Susan Gross <>
Subject: TPR Storytelling

Someone asked about using TPR Storytelling as a full curriculum. Yes, it
can be a complete methodology. **BUT I would caution you** that if your
experience with TPR Storytelling is a conference session, you do not
have the full picture and you will *NOT* want to use it as your primary
methodology. One session which I attended turned TPR Storytelling into a
guessing game and made a student cry in front of the audience.

Another session which I attended showed the story-telling part and the
fun part. I have given sessions like that, too. It shows the excitement,
but it does not teach a teacher how to implement the method. Teachers
who actually are successful at implementing the method get full training
from a workshop. The two-day workshops provide a complete training

I am as guilty as anyone of getting so enthusiastic about it after my
first experience that I couldn't wait to show it to everyone. I had not
been fully trained, particularly in how to teach reading, writing, or
grammatical accuracy using TPR Storytelling. I think my enthusiasm
coupled with my ignorance resulted in some teachers thinking I was nuts
and the method was nothing more than fluff!

If you would like to get the "full" picture without attending a two-day
workshop, you might want to get the NEW video (not the old one. The NEW
one is the Tahoe training workshop last August). The new video is $40
and shows the steps for the storytelling part of the method. Then the
book "Fluency through TPR Storytelling" ($15) will fill in most of the
other considerations like:

how to teach composition writing
how to move from story telling to conversational language how to teach
grammatical accuracy
how to prepare for the AP test
how to get your students to read novels (fluent reading, not "dictionary

Susan Gross


97/12 From-> Mary Mueller
Subject: Re: The explicit teaching of vocab in tprs
From my experience, I feel that you need to work on both simultaneously.
I attended a seminar in an immersion program with a linguist teach whose
presentation dealt with acquiring language, and she said it takes
approximately 50 times of seeing a word before it enters long term
memory. Also, in my own experience it was important to repeatedly use
the vocabulary word in context (with rhythm & structure) to make it

Mary Mueller


97/03 From-> Georgette Blemker <>
Subject: Re: Cuentos de Ensalada/TPR storytelling

As others have said, Cuentos was written by Stephanie Campbell and she
does an excellent job in the book describing how she is using the
material with her classes. The book is very detailed and gives great
suggestions on how to set up and present the different episodes. I just
wondered if anyone else on the list is using her book and what kind of
experiences they have had with it. Stephanie’s e-mail address is:

Georgette Blemker


97/03 From-> James May <>
Subject: TPR Storytelling video

There has been much talk lately on FLTEACH about Blaine Ray's TPR
storytelling. I still don't understand what it is, but the latest
edition of Teacher's Discovery catalog has, on page 12, two items of
interest to those of us interested in learning more: 1) a video
introducing TPR storytelling that includes, among other things, the
steps of TPR storytelling and a middle school Spanish class in action.
The price is $25. 2) The book used in the video is "Look I Can Talk",
available in French and Spanish. It is available for $12.95. I am
anxiously awaiting my order so I can learn more about TPR storytelling.

James May


97/03 From-> Susan Gross <s_gross@COMPUSERVE.COM>
Subject: TPR Storytelling

Marilyn asked:
>>Does anyone have any experience with another group?<<

Yes, there is another company which has published TPR Storytelling
materials for upper elementary/middle school students. The company is CW
Publishing and is owned by Valeri Marsh of Arizona. She and Christine
Anderson co-authored the materials. They are excellent. In an attempt to
get the word out about the method in general and about her materials in
particular, Valeri has financed a tour of workshops on TPR Storytelling.
That may be the brochure which you received.

For those who are interested in trying TPR Storytelling, attendance at a
multi-day workshop is the best training. If you just want to read a bit
about it, try Contee Seely and Elizabeth Romijn's book _TPR Is More Than
Comands at all Levels_. Chapter four in that book gives a description.

Susan Gross


97/07 From-> Susan Gross <>
Subject: TPR Storytelling information

For those of you who would like information about TPR Storytelling,
there is a new website:

While the site is not completely finished, there is an excellent article
which explains TPR Storytelling. Just click on "What is TPR
Storytelling ?"

I believe that the article is also available for newsletters of you
State's FL organization, if they are interested.

Susan Gross


97/07 From-> Catherine Jolivet <>
Subject: Re: Tpr storytelling research

James Asher (1986) in his book: "Learning Another Language Through
Actions: The Complete Teachers' Guidebook". Los Gatos, CA: Sky Oaks
Publications, provides information about TPR and its pedagogical

As for the use of TPR in storytelling activities, Eileen Glisan and
Judith Shrum (1994) in their book: "Teacher's Handbook: Contextualized
Instruction". Boston, MA: Heinle & Heinle, have devoted part of a
chapter to techniques designed to actively involve students in language
use (chapter 4).

Among the techniques presented, you will find TPR and storytelling. They
also list lots of references (books and scholarly papers published in
very reputable journals) at the end of each of the chapters, which you
could consult for further information.

Catherine Jolivet


97/07 From-> Julianne Baird <>
Subject: Re: for tpr storytelling veterans

Sue Alice Shay wrote:
>As I cannot attend any of Blaine Ray's workshops this summer, I have been
>thinking of buying some of the tpr storytelling books published by Blaine Ray
>just to learn more about this method. I don't have a lot of money from the school
>this year. How useful is it to the teacher just to have just one copy of his books?

IMHO I don't think just looking at a copy of his book is enough. I love
the storytelling, but I have to confess that if I only saw his "Look I
Can Talk" book, I would have thought the man was crazy. You need to
understand how the concept works, how it is taught, what the student
expectations are, etc. before you look at the so-called textbook. Blaine
has a few publications that explain Storytelling. I recommend you
contact him ( and ask him which books he would
recommend to help you learn how to teach via Storytelling. Also if there
is someone in your area who is using this method, ask that person to
explain it to you. I learned about it from some one 65 miles south of
me. It was worth the drive there.

Julianne Baird


97/08 From-> Lewis Johnson <>
Subject: Stories for TPR Storytelling

If you attended a TPR Storytelling Workshop this summer, you need to
check out Stephanie Campbell's "Cuentos de Ensalada." Stephanie has done
a truly marvelous job of putting together a FUN soap opera to use with
TPR Storytelling. She is a master of creativity. The story is for
Spanish I and II. The teacher's guide is chock full of explanations for
using the materials, masters for visuals, complete lesson plans, tests,
directions for assembling props, and much more. It VERY tastefully deals
with contemporary issues....drugs, gangs, romance. You can check it out
at the following web site.

Lewis Johnson


97/09 From-> Gale Mackey <>
Subject: Re: TPR IDEAS

Yes. with few exceptions my students have been enthused about Spanish
Class since I started using TPR Storytelling techniques.

There is a book out called "Fluency in the Foreign Language Classroom"
By Blaine Ray and Contee Seely. This book will answer your questions
about making your classroom come alive using tpr all year long.

Also Blaine has a brand new video out. Explaining TPR Storytelling.

There is a web site (Not totally constructed yet) where Blaine has these
materials and many more advertised. It is
Good luck in your pursuit.

Gale Mackey


97/10 From-> Janice Miyata <>
Subject: TPR Storytelling

Two weeks ago I did something that has revitalized my teaching. I
attended an excellent TPR Storytelling workshop in Toronto, Ontario
given by Valeri Marsh. I also bought a great book by Blaine Ray called
Fluency through TPR Storytelling. Since that time I've been creating my
own mini-stories based on our German texts and the kids are loving it.
They are talking more, creating more, risking more and smiling more.

I would never have learned about TPRS if it hadn't been for this list.
Thanks for all the ideas that everyone shares so willingly.

Janice Miyata


97/10 From-> Michael Kundrat <>
Subject: TPR-S tape


Do it! Get the tape, read the books, find a workshop. Do whatever you
can to become involved with Storytelling. There has been nothing that
has affected my professional life so positively, or changed it so
dramatically, as TPR -S.

Michael Kundrat

>I just received an e-mail about a $30 tape and $15 book that can be purchased
>from Blaine Ray about TPR-S. The video is of a workshop given in Arizona.
>Evidently they were just in Boston last month, but I missed it. Those of you who
>have been to the workshops--do you think the video could do an adequate job
>and would be worth the time and money? Respond off list if you wish. Thanks.
>Andrea Merrifield


97/10 From-> Sandra Almgren <>
Subject: Re: TPR-S tapes

I went to one of Blaine's workshops in Denver, and it was great. I also
purchased the video, and I really think that the video gives you the
same content as the workshop (minus of course the group interaction).
The video will give you an excellent idea of how TPR-S works. Good luck!

Sandra Almgren


97/11 From-> Peter Duckett <>
Subject: Re: Spanish books and TPR Storytelling

The address is :
Hispanic Books Distributors Inc
1665 W Grant Rd, Tucson AZ 85745.
The phone number is 602/882-9484

In the past I have gone to their warehouse and they have let me go in
and look at books from their warehouse shelves. I have found them to be
incredibly welcoming and accommodating in terms of making my purchases
worthwhile. Good luck.

Peter Duckett


97/11 From-> Nedra Graves <>
Subject: TPR for Japanese

Blaine Ray's Book "Fluency through TPR Storytelling" is excellent. It is
really his 2-day workshop committed to paper. The theory and process
should be the same for any language, I would think. The TPR movements
might be a real challenge in Japanese. I know nothing of Japanese, but I
use ASL (Amer. Sign Lang) signing to get the meaning of the word across
to my kids, or I have them come with an action which represents the
word. We then do the action whenever we're using the word, whether in
storytelling, vocab practice whatever.

The book is available through Command Performance Language Institute -
1755 Hopkins St., Berkeley, CA 94707-2714, (510) 524-1191, e-mail: Contee Seely is the co-author of the book with Blaine.
Hope this helps.

Nedra Graves

Our contributors are:

Sandra Almgren
Jeff Amdur
Melissa Badger
Sharon Bailey
Julianne Baird
Pat Barrett
Marilyn Barrueta
Elisa Barton
Gustavo Benedetti
Jo Benn
Laura Bertrand
Georgette Blemker
Todd Bowen
Janel Brennan
Elaine Carey
David Christian
Andrea Claassen
Jim Conway
Janice Dirmeitis
Deby Doloff
Kate Doolittle
Peter Duckett
Shaun Duvalls
Madeline Ehrman
Carol Gaab
Cynthia  Gerstl
Joseph J. Goebel Jr
Joel Goldfield
Peter Goldstone
Nedra Graves
Susan Gross Bob Hall
Bill Heller
Dorcas Herr
Barbara Hunter
Virginia Jackson
Cynthia Johnson
Lewis Johnson
Catherine Jolivet
Laura Kimoto
Jody Klopp
Colleen Kriedel
Michael Kundrat
Richard Lee
Ania Lian
Gladys Lipton
Zev bar-Lev
Patricia Jane Long
Gale Mackey
Robbie Marshall
Timothy Mason
James May
Todd McKay
Jessica Meisner
Janice Miyata
Mike Miller
Irene Moon
Sonja  Moore
Cynthia Morefield
Mary Mueller
Clyde Nielson
Patricia Reynolds
Shirley  Ogle
Gini Pohlman
Dorothy Rissel
Margery Rossi
Sue Alice Shay
Dawn Smith
Richard Snyder
Nilsa Sotomayor
Patti Spiegel
Sue Steele
Joyce Szewczynski
Ron Takalo
Dana Thacker
Andre Thomas
Mj Tykoski
Dawn Vernaza
Donald Webb
Terri  Wilbanks
Mary Young


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