Shifting to Total Physical Response Storytelling (TPRS) and Comprehensible Instruction (CI)

Last fall, I shifted from doing teacher training and teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) at the college level back to teaching high school Spanish. While switching from teaching adults to teenagers has been a definite adjustment, I’ve also had the fortune of landing in a school that uses the methodologies of TPRS and CI – both methodologies I’ve been intrigued by for a long time. I’ve joined an incredibly talented team of teachers who have been helping me learn a new teaching methodology.

After over 15 years of language teaching in a wide variety of settings, I can honestly say that it’s one of the most effective and research based methods of language teaching that I’ve ever used. While I personally love grammar, I’ve watched its teaching be less effective with the majority of students. (How many people out there “took four years of language and can’t speak a word”?) TPRS and CI make language accessible in ways that a grammar-based approach cannot.

As I learn more and create my own materials, I plan to post more resources and materials that align with TPRS/CI here.

If you’re a language teacher interested in learning more about TPRS and CI, here are some excellent resources that introduce you to many of its techniques and approaches:

  • Ben Slavic’s website is a great place to start. He teaches in Denver Public Schools (DPS) where over 90% of the district uses TPRS.
  • DPS has also posted lots of videos on TeacherTube of their teachers using TPRS & CI. His book “Stepping Stones to Stories” gives a great overview of how to get started with TPRS and the reasoning behind it.
  • Martina Bex posts incredibly useful activities, resources and games on her website The Comprehensible Classroom.
  • I’m using The New Cuentame Mas series to help ease my way into learning storytelling. Some of the storytellers I’ve seen are so creative, but this series helps me tangibly start storytelling before I really understand how to be creative.
  • TPRS Q&A also gives a great introduction to components of the methodology

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