Jun 5, 2008

our toolbox

How often have I heard somebody say that TPR or TPRS are good tools to have as a classroom teacher but that we cannot use them exclusively?

Here's my translation of that thought: TPR and TPRS don't work. However, they are good buzzwords so we will say that we use them. We "use" TPR anytime we have a student move in any way, even if it is just their fingers for a few seconds. We "use" TPRS anytime we tell a story in our class. (In this translation TPR and TPRS are roughly equivalent except that in TPRS there are stories.)

The theory behind TPR and TPRS is now neatly swept aside. The research is dismissed as banal or inconsequential, and basically these teachers are saying that we should continue to teach as we have always taught, but now we have some cool new acronyms to use to show how literate we are professionally.

But, it isn't about the actions or the stories at all. It's about the theory of language acquisition. And stories and actions and personalization are all tools, yes, but tools to faciliate the language acquisition as the theories and the research have demonstrated is most effective. If we had to, we could probably remove the actions or the stories and still have students learn. It wouldn't be optimal, but we could do it and still legitimately say we were using TPRS and TPR because we could still honor the research about acquisition. Whereas, in some people's minds these methods are nothing outside of stories and jumping around like hooligans.

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