Ci & tprs


[color=#0000FF][i]Mod's note: more CI related discussion here:[/i] [url=]Acquisition or learning, comprehensible input or correction?[/url][/color]

ironlady: Incidentally (and perhaps you could split this off into another thread or merge it with an existing thread), checking out some of your posts on this site has led me to an investigation of TPRS (one of my friends is very into CI, but I'd never taken that much of an interest until recently). I tried teaching a couple of classes that way yesterday. The first, some year 9 students with a collective pulse that barely nudges 20 b.p.m., thought I was off my rocker, and some promptly took that as a signal to go back to sleep or perhaps actually die (I can never tell the difference with a couple of them) because I wasn't making them "work". The second, some rather excitable year 7 students, thought it was hilarious and got right into the whole thing. Win some, lose some.

What would be your approach with the year 9 class? I have issues with compulsory education in many senses, and I don't think you can force someone to learn something. Yet there's a massive hurdle to overcome in that I think these kids equate not having a pen in their hand, a test in front of them and a teacher breathing down their necks as break time. I might have thought that given enough time, they'd start paying attention or even participating, but a lot of these kids are so perpetually tired and burnt out from their general workload that I'm not sure that will happen.


The thing with TPRS is that it puts off the "serious" students because acquisition doesn't feel like, well, anything. Unconscious processes tend to be like that. :smiley: But for your immediate feedback, you need to know that every student is comprehending everything you say, so you need to be teaching to their eyes. Have them sit up, nothing at all on their desks (no, they don't need to take notes) and make eye contact with them. Ask a question, let it hang in the air, and call for a choral response. Watch the "20%ers" (the ones who aren't the absolutely hopeless student [I'm being ironic] but just above that level) and make sure they can understand. You must teach to their speed of comprehension. The trick with that is you have to learn to circle your items, elicit interesting content from the kids, pop up grammar when appropriate, manage your time, and do constant comprehension checks, all at once, in a non-predictable order.

I'd establish a set of specific rules for your expectations of their behavior while you're doing TPRS. Things like a requirement that everyone answer every (choral) question, nothing on the desks, make a special signal you decide on the second you don't understand something, etc. You will have to train them in signaling when they don't understand since teens are hesitant to do that in front of their peers, but if you reward that behavior they will learn it.

There's a great support list at Yahoogroups called "moreTPRS" -- you might want to join up. We also do coaching by Internet:

(MOD please split the thread -- I don't have superpowers in this forum :smiley: )


I've just started in a new school and they use TPRS! I only just found out about TPRS two days ago but what I see at the school fits the description. There's lots of storybooks. One teacher had 3 sentences on the board. I was asked by my Chinese teacher to write a story on the board on the end of class so the students could write it down and read it at home.

So I'm feeling clever about figuring out they use a TPRS curriculum. But now I have to teach it! Help! Where are some good resources? Is there an online course I could do yet (Ironlady)? Is there anyone in Taichung who teaches in TPRS style who could let me watch a class, or even do a quick example of circling? What do you think would be the best way for me to get competent at teaching TPRS style?

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There's a good overview of TPRS at Wikipedia:


I had a good look at the wikipedia entry. Unfortunately my computer keeps glitching on the other site. Thanks for giving me some good places to start!


You're lucky to have found a school that uses TPRS and not just TPR. Great thread, btw. I've also been looking for more resources on the subject.

Ironlady provided us with a link for a Yahoo group for TPRS:


Try these files: ... 20TPRS.pdf ... 281%29.pdf ... t%2007.pdf ... orelem.pdf


I found the whole thread about Aquisition, Input, Learning & Correction very informative. It's great to hear from "old timers" who really know how to do it.
I've read many times that I really need to do a real time conference/seminar to "get" the pacing and simplicity of TPRS. I know I would really benefit from knowing what a story is. I can make my own, but I'm sure I don't repeat enough.

For example:

On Friday I taught a 1 hr class of 16 students, age 5/6 about The Earth. They're a mixed class, brought together for "winter camp". We had a handout, and they could read most of it!
I learned about TPRS the next day, so on Monday I tried to review the Earth handout TPRS style. We read the story a paragraph at a time. I wrote some key words on the board (the ones I found on the Cambridge Young Learners [i]Movers[i] vocab list I was handed at the beginning of class. I spent half the class describing the vocab words in various ways and getting the students to talk about them. "A rock is soft. A rock is hard. The Earth is made of rock" they'd tell me. they gave me a few words of their own. I chose the easiest, like soft & hard. I also tried singing songs about the weather, since cloudy, hot, cold and sunny were in the reading too. We played Bingo so they students could practice writing the words. I made sure each student understood the instructions and spelled the words right, but I could see some had no idea what the words were. I thought I'd teach to the majority of learners rather than the slowest. (Reading more about TPRS I think that was a mistake)

The teacher asked me to write an approx 50 word story at the end of class. Our words were: head, hard, soft, cloudy, sunny, rock, hot, cold, white, windy, bed. I wrote:
"My Day
"In the morning it was sunny. I was hot. In the afternoon it was cloudy and rainy. I was cold. I put on my soft, white jacket. The rain fell hard on my head. I put a rock on my head but it was too heavy. So I went to bed."

The teacher said it was too easy for the majority of the class. But I know there were some lower level learners in the class too.

Maybe the story needs more repetition in it? Is anyone willing to rewrite it to give me a good example? Or is it too hard without knowing the context of the class? Or should I try to get the class to write it with me? They were throwing all kinds of new words into it. I think I was right to not include those in my talking since I'm trying to be totally comprehensible right?



What you're doing is not TPRS. You are doing well in a lot of ways, especially cutting down and trying to repeat a lot, but you aren't doing TPRS. I doubt the school is, either (although I'd be happy to learn I was wrong on this one.)

TPRS isn't just using stories. It's a specific technique of presenting language that is 100% comprehensible, then using principled repetition in patterns yet unpredictably to provide a high amount of repetition.

Check out the yahoogroups group. That will be the best place to get answers to questions like yours ("how do I teach reading?" "how do I teach writing?" and so on) ready-made.


Thanks Ironlady! I've been to the Yahoo group a couple of times but didn't which key words to search the posts with. Are you doing any online seminars? :pray: I know you were just here in Nov so I shouldn't expect an in person seminar :frowning:
I hope I can evolve into doing true TPRS because I think a lot of the right factors are present at this school. Also, I'll be teaching kindergarten every morning in the new semester. It should be ideal!


I am so not an expert with this. I just started reading it last night, so I am not saying what I tried was anywhere near what it had to be. Still....

I tried a few things on the wikipedia page with a very difficult group today that I just started teaching. What little I applied with the repeated language in the story, way of questioning, and a few other things I could quickly pick up kept the kids engaged. (This is really a difficult group and amazed how well they did).

I will surely look into it more. Thanks for the links and info.


Been doing it a couple of weeks in my new class, got up to half an hour today. The kids seem to like it and are definitely picking up a lot. Even with no experience at it i feel quite comfortable doing it at this beginning level and feel like i will gain the ability to do it in step with the students' progress, if that makes any sense.


There's a pretty good TPRS overview here (link to Word file, safe to open): ... Rw&cad=rja

Another very useful word file: ... bg&cad=rja

I recently got what I believe may be referred to as the "bible" of TPRS off amazon pretty painlessly, quite a help. ... 828&sr=8-1


Thanks for the links, TG. :thumbsup: I'm going to see if I can order that book through Caves or something.


It's good, but rather repetitive. Perhaps the writer was trying to use TPRS-style acquisition techniques on prospective teachers :slight_smile: I'd try to get "TPRS In a Year" but it's not on Amazon and any shipping I've seen to here is prohibitive.


The "green bible" as it is referred to ("Fluency through TPRS Storytelling") is someone trying to make sense out of Blaine Ray. Everyone likes Blaine -- he's a really nice person and very helpful to anyone he can help -- but cohesive logic is not his strongest suit. He doesn't really know why what he does works, IMO. It's instinctual for him. It was mostly Susan Gross who finally sat down and said, "What is this guy doing and how can we break it down into steps so the average teacher can reproduce the effect?" She mostly does training, so that was her angle. Ben Slavic, who learned from Susan Gross, then went farther and wrote "manuals" intended to lead teachers through a year of implementing a method new to them without feeling too overwhelmed.

You can download the first 30 pages of "TPRS in a Year" from Ben Slavic's web site (or you could before -- I don't visit it a lot.) If anyone really, really wants a copy, maybe I can purchase some and bring them over when I come in October -- but with my forgetfulness it would be better to talk about that in, say, September...


I've been seeing CI pop up in a lot of threads recently, and I'm familiar with the term, but its usage on these forums seems to be more complicated than my understanding of it. I always just thought CI meant teaching with simple, understandable language which can be comprehended roughly 80% of the time, and using lots of gestures, pictures, imagery, and sounds to get students to associate words with their meaning. Basically, I thought that CI just meant "language that can be understood by the student".

The way it's used on the forum, however, teachers talk about teaching with CI, teaching "high-input classes", etc. Isn't it the intention of every language teacher ever to teach this way? What am I missing? The way some folks talk about it, I've started to suspect that CI is a complicated theoretical teaching system in itself and that I've entirely missed the point. I like to teach with big movements, gestures, high energy, and slow, but still natural-sounding, simple English that can be mostly understood by the kids. All the schools I've worked for love this, so long as it is done within the curriculum, yet I keep hearing that CI is not welcome in traditional classrooms. Is the point that CI should be taught alone, mostly without grammar lessons? What's the whole story? What does a CI curriculum look like?


CI as theorists like Krashen as well as most teachers who identify themselves as teaching CI methods mean it is 100% comprehensible input. If it isn't 100% comprehensible, it's only partially comprehensible, which isn't comprehensible. If that is comprehensible. :smiley: I think there are a variety of personal definitions of what "comprehensible" means out there, based largely on the individual situations of the teachers.

The most established CI-based methodology is TPRS. For TPRS, comprehensible means 100%, and it means 100% checked comprehension, not "this is comprehensible because I put up a picture so everyone obviously will know what it means". TPRS uses the native or shared language as the quickest route to assessing comprehension. Note that this is 100% comprehensibility for language acquisition -- the acquisition of the structure of the language. Vocabulary expansion is another animal, and as students progress and have more structure already acquired, they deal with more "unknowns", which of course are not 100% comprehensible up front.

Other CI-based methods believe that language is acquired through massive input but perhaps do not hold as strictly to the 100% comprehensibility standard for language acquisition. However, I'm not aware that the effect of these methods (such as ordinary immersion) is as effective per unit time as a 100%-CI based method like TPRS. The level of comprehensibility for immersion can range from zero to 100 and everything in between. Generally speaking, the longer a student has to guess or is unsure, the longer a time it will take to acquire the language in question (assuming that the average student will guess correctly as to the meaning only part of the time).


Again, "learning" and "it's the student's fault if he doesn't learn". This is all traditional methodology and traditional thinking about language acquisition. CI-proponents consider that it really doesn't matter if the student is willing or not, as long as he's present and listening (acquisition is quicker if the student is participating actively but it happens even with the surly ones who you think aren't paying any attention at all -- it's just the way the brain works in spite of them) and that if the student brain does not successfully acquire the language presented, it is because the input was insufficient or of low quality -- both of which are on the teacher, not the student.

This is, needless to say, not a popular idea among traditional teachers, who love to sit in the faculty room and complain about how awful kids are today and how they don't work. I've never heard a CI-based teacher saying similar things -- except in reference to project work, which is not acquisition-related.