World Languages Teaching Method Proves Successful

Sep 13, 2017

In April 2017, Blaine Ray, the creator of Teaching Proficiency Through Reading and Storytelling (TPRS) visited YISS for a day-long workshop with the World Languages department. Ray's system proved effective in teaching the language teachers in attendance their first lesson in German. All were able to understand, speak, read, and write their first story in the language on that day.

As a result, the French program eagerly applied the TPRS method to existing French classes at the time, but how would it fare with those who had never been exposed to the language? At the beginning of this school year, after only two weeks in class, students have been able to speak and write in full sentences! The French program has had a major turning point in how it goes about teaching fluency, and the students have responded; since the beginning of the school year, the French I class has doubled in size!

Since last year, several high school Mandarin classes have switched to using the TPRS method to teach the language. Rather than the traditional method of using textbooks and workbooks to teach vocabulary and grammatical structures, TPRS introduces students to key concepts through the teacher repeating new vocabulary and grammar as she tells an interactive story. Once the students have been exposed to the story, they are able to act it out, retell it with partners, read it, translate it, and write a summary of it. Both the students and the teacher have been impressed with how much the classes can recall at the end of each lesson.

Another language class, Spanish I, has also been enjoying different TPRS stories in the classroom. From "Los gatos azules" to "Ben quiere un iglú grande," the class has been following the stories and participating in a mixture of reading, storytelling, and role playing while learning Spanish. The students have been asking and answering questions about the characters and plots, sometimes without realizing that the target language has been used!

Three cheers for TPRS!