“We have ways of making you talk.”


The Three Steps of TPR Storytelling

Step 1  Establish Meaning

Write the meaning in Spanish (the student´s first language) on the board.

Gesture (especially for younger students).

Personalize the vocabulary:

  • Ask questions using the new words.  E.g. If the word is a noun, ask if a student likes it.  If the word is a verb, ask if s/he does it.
  • Show interest by asking follow-up questions.
  • Ask the entire group about the first student.
  • Invite reactions by the entire group.
  • Ask similar questions of another student.
  • Compare and contrast students.

Always look for confusion (hesitation or no response) and use translation to clear it up.

Make sure that every student knows all of the new vocabulary words.

Show interest and enthusiasm.

Capitalize on the comparison between students to make a little story about them.

“TPRS is a teacher oriented methodology NOT a book dependent approach.  Training and experience is necessary but the pay-off is tremendous.”

Step 2   Story

Get actors to dramatize the story.  The actor performs after each statement.

Spend plenty of time on the story (do NOT hurry).

Follow each statement with many questions.  Use a variety of questions: translation, low-level, open-ended and creative.

Use translation to clarify grammar and structure.  (Use pop-ups frequently throughout the story).

Creative questions (that have no answer yet) invite unexpected or personalized details.

Students must answer all questions.  They respond to statements with “Oh!” and “Ahh!”

Use the information that you learned about students (in Step 1) to personalize the story.

Recycle parts of the story many times.

Retell the story without actors (but with more questions and embellishments) if you need to.

Teach to the eyes!  Look at the audience, not at the actors.

Enjoy the sparkle students.

“It is the teacher´s job to show enthusiasm and to be supportive at every step of every lesson.”

Step 3   Reading

Give students a printed story.

Students translate the story (as a group or one at a time).

Make sure that students understand everything in each paragraph.

Use translation to explain grammar so that grammar is tied to meaning, not to a grammar rule.

Discuss the reading in the target language.

  • Relate the situation, characters and plot to student´s lives.
  • Ask if they have ever been in such a situation.
  • Capitalize on the cultural information in the story.
  • Use the story to teach life lessons.
  • Give a short quiz on the reading.
  • Act out a scene from a novel.
  • Discuss character development, choices and values.

Repeat step 3 for as many readings as you have.  Extended readings and novels should be translated in this manner.

Based on a chart by Susan Gross
Adapted by Pat Verano
Quoted from Fluency Through TPR Storytelling by Blaine Ray and Contee Seely

“Many key techniques…..make students and their lives central to the method…”


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