Sunday, July 21, 2013

Inspired by TPRS

       Over the weekend, I attended a TPRS (Blaine Ray) conference. It was a very educational couple days. For anyone who doesn't know what TPRS is, it is a teaching method that uses story telling and question circling to teach language. It also incorporates reading and writing. Something I was struggling with last year was immersing my students in the target language. I wasn't sure of the best way to do it. I felt like they lost interest because I wasn't using it in a simple enough way for them to understand. TPRS showed me how to make the target language simple, engaging, and fun.
       The benefit of TPRS that I'm very excited to see is the comfort level the students build with listening to and speaking in the target language. In my opinion, those are the most important parts of acquiring a new language. I was always the student that was terrified to speak in Spanish class. I was too afraid to make mistakes and I never trusted myself. I'm beginning to see this in some of my students. That just breaks my heart! I try as hard as I can to create a classroom environment where making mistakes is encouraged. It is even on of the rules on my wall. I tell them over and over again that it is very important to try and make a mistakes because it helps them learn. I'm hoping TPRS will decrease the fear and increase the language use. I think this will help because for a majority of questions students respond as a whole class. It is the teachers job to look for students who are confused and not responding. Also, the teacher allows the students to control the lessons. Students do hand signals to tell the teacher that they are confused, need something repeated, or need the teacher to slow down. The story doesn't continue until all students understand. Basically, the teacher is teaching the content, but the students are teaching the teacher how to teach it. Also, The teacher shows no expectation that the students already know something. No matter what the students need translated or explained, the teacher does it even if it a grammar rule or vocabulary word they have been working on for weeks. Students never feel like they should know something already or like they can't ask for help.
       While I am very excited to teach using TPRS, I am a little nervous. This is a brand new method for me. I had never seen it before the conference. I was never taught that way. There is a lot to remember. I have to ask certain kinds of questions. I have to keep the story on track while taking suggestions from students. I have to speak at a pace that is easy for my students to follow. I have to monitor the room and make sure that each student is able to answer every question. The list goes on and on. That is a lot to do! A great example of multitasking. The part that worries me the most is teaching this way to kindergarten and first grade. They are still learning to read and part of TPRS is writing any unknown word on the board. I plan on using lots of pictures and visuals with them, but there isn't a picture for every single word. Eventually, I'll find a way that works with my students and I know that it will take some time to work all of the bugs out, even with my upper elementary students. I just have to take one step at a time.

I hope that I have inspired you to begin learning about TPRS and incorporating it into your classroom. If you use it already, I would LOVE to read about some of your experiences or suggestions.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


For this first post, I would like to tell a little about what I do and why I've created this blog. A few weeks ago I successfully completed my first year of teaching elementary Spanish. It was a crazy year. I rotate between three buildings and teach pre-K through fifth grade. I'm also in charge of writing my own curriculum. Needless to say, as a first year teacher I was overwhelmed. Now that I have some time to breath over the summer, I have decided to create this blog to share lesson ideas, resources and hopefully connect with some fellow elementary Spanish teachers.

I'll be attending some professional development days this summer for technology as well as foreign language. I'm looking forward to sharing what I learn and hearing some experiences that you've had. I'll also be planning next year's units: school, colors, animals, weather/seasons, and clothing. I'll post ideas as I find them.