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Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling

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Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling , formerly known as Total Physical Response Storytelling, or TPRS for short, is a method for teaching any world language, including Spanish and French. Blaine Ray created this method by combining James Asher's Total Physical Response system with personalized, often funny stories to help students apply the words learned. These stories are complemented with reading from a variety of sources. Blaine Ray is a Spanish teacher whose philosophy is that "Learning is a function of repetition."

TPRS is a movement towards building language proficiency in the use of grammatical structures through reading stories in addition to the oral storytelling for which TPRS is well-known. Originally incorporating seven basic steps, TPRS, according to Ray, has three main steps to the process:

STEP 1: Establish Meaning. This is done primarily by translation from a speakers native language to the target language.
STEP 2: Ask a story. Using a general outline of a story, the instructor asks students to provide specific details. This allows students to make it their own. At the same time a circling technique of asking questions, and repeating phrases results in multiple repetitions of the target structures.
STEP 3: Read and discuss the story, or a different story which contains the grammar structures from STEP 2, but different details.

TPRS is based on the importance of comprehensible input as the key factor in developing fluency in the target language and is supported by Dr. Stephen Krashen's research. Another very important element of TPRS is personalization. Using the language as a means to get to know students and to get them interested in the message is an effective way of delivering input that is both comprehensible and interesting.

Blaine Ray started a second company teaching adults languages through TPRS in 2004 following a successful study at Middle Tennessee State University. Fluency Fast Language Classes, Inc. is a company which offers language immersion classes using the TPRS method. 4 day language immersion classes are available nationwide in Spanish, French, German, Russian, Mandarin Chinese and Arabic. The company is now owned by Karen Rowan, a TPRS teacher from Colorado.

In 1999, a group of Michigan teachers including Michael Kundrat, Kristy Placido, Kathleen Bulger, and Sue Steele were the first members of an online community for TPRS teachers. The group is called moreTPRS and is housed at yahoogroups. The list has grown to over 5000 members worldwide and has been credited with the organic and dynamic nature of TPRS as a teaching method. He has also written a series of books.

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