TPRS - Photo: © Olly / illustration
— [http://goo.gl/JMNr6i] Action research to improve student learning and_______________________Spanish pedagogy!
This method of engaging students with comprehensible input, TPRS, is powerful. Storytelling is a revolutionary approach that makes so much sense in so many ways. Briefly, TPRS is based heavily on Stephen Krashen’s (and others’) research on second language acquisition and theories of the Natural Approach, or the theory that people learn second and more languages in much the same way they learned their first.
The TPRS approach incorporates highly repetitive storytelling using the most frequently used words in a language, along with engaging reading materials, to deliver very comprehensible input to students.
Experts document that within TPRS, students learn Spanish through stories, dramatic play, and body movements. Using TPRS, teachers provide instruction exclusively in the target language, foster a brain-body connection, and engage students in developmentally appropriate activities. There are a few key components of the method:
1. Comprehensible input: In order to acquire a language, you must understand what you hear. If you mostly understand what you hear (or read), it is comprehensible to you. Listening is so important!!
2. Stories: It is easier to learn new vocabulary and pick up grammatical structures naturally by listening (and understanding) stories that are short, funny, silly and involve emotions or surprises. Learning new vocabulary by studying flashcards or vocabulary lists is not very effective, but you probably already know that by now.
3. Question and answer lessons: Telling the story and answering lots of questions serves two functions.
First, because the question and answer lesson is very repetitive, asking similar questions over and over again throughout the lesson, you get to hear the vocabulary and grammatical structures many, many times, which leads to better understanding and more retention. (This means you remember the words better!)
Second, because the questions are simple and repetitive, you begin to understand quickly and answer quickly. Learning how to answer the questions quickly, without translating, without thinking will lead you to becoming a fluent English speaker.
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