Ci & tprs


But it sounds like in a CI class, the teacher is all 5 men on the team, and the coach, and the students are the audience.


You say that anyone trying to sell people on the system would probably have a 30-minute demo to entice people. Is there a demo on Youtube of TPRS that you think best reflects the power of the system? I'd like to see how a real pro does it.


No, usually they demo in person. The point is that usually (since this is such a counter-intuitive way to acquire a language) you have to get the people involved to actually acquire some language for themselves before they'll believe it really works. Otherwise, everyone is thinking, "Oh, they had some Spanish before" or "This is staged" or whatever while watching the video.

Most of the YouTube stuff (without having screened it in detail) is posted by folks whose technique is not particular mature, or is class projects. Much of what is labeled "TPRS", isn't.


That would be great, if I wanted my students to learn. I don't. I want them to acquire. They can learn all about the language later on, in college, when they have decided to become an English teacher or something that requires knowledge of grammar (though, of course, if everyone taught CI that would be questionable as well!)

Language = language. Knowledge about the language = linguistics.

Language isn't facts. Linguistics is facts. You learn facts, but you acquire languages. You learn math, science, geography, the rules of basketball, the rules for the orthography of French, and your PIN number. You acquire languages. The approach to the first set (particularly the PIN number :smiley: ) should be different than the approach to the latter, since they are completely different goals.

Motivation makes classroom management easier. Motivation means a student will attend more to the input, which means a quicker connection between linguistic form (sound) and meaning. Motivation means that every bit of input is linked with meaning, which means less time (overall) would be required to acquire, if a certain threshold number of repetitions is what's needed to acquire (since fewer reps would be ignored through wandering attention).

I think books telling people how to teach languages are cute, especially the slick ESL/EFL books published in Britain. Have those folks ever been in a Taiwanese classroom? My experience now that I'm shifting from teaching only to more presenting and training is that presenting is a heck of a lot easier than teaching. There's no accountability. Someone comes up to you at a workshop and says, "I have problem XYZ, what should I do?" And you tell her something or other, she says "Thanks" and you part ways. You never know if it works for her or not, and it's not your problem if it doesn't, regardless of whether it is because you gave the wrong advice or she didn't implement it correctly or what. Same thing with publishing a book -- in fact, a book is even easier since you don't have to address any questions that are inconvenient.

For Taiwan, IMO, the elephant in the room for CI methods is the test culture. I do not believe it is possible to implement a comprehensive CI-based instructional program if the test culture remains unchanged with regard both to content and timeline. Unlike some presenters, I say so, too. I don't believe it helps anyone to present TPRS or anything else as a silver bullet that will work right out of the box in all situations. Ultimately, a TPRS-taught student would do very well on any proficiency test, but the Taiwanese concept of "proficiency tests" is, um, interesting. I think there is a lot of potential for CI-based methods in Taiwan, but the trick is to demonstrate that fluency really can be achieved without lengthy residence abroad, and show that fluency is more desirable than command of the details about a language. That being said I think someone could do this on a small scale and have quite a happy life.


This is a matter of definition. I think learning to do something and acquiring the ability are one and the same thing. Learning about the language would be studying and analyzing it. Learning to use the language is acquiring it.

How come facts aren't a part of language? There are ways to say things correctly in English and there are ways to say them incorrectly. These are facts. I correct students based on facts. I explain things based on the facts of the language. Often there are no two ways about it. You cannot say, 'There is two dogs.' When I explain my corrections I explain based on the facts of the language.This helps students not to make the same mistake again.
I remember my struggles in studying Chinese were related to coming into the classroom and prattle on in Chinese with no explanation of what she was saying and hoping I would pick this up by osmosis. I didn't and this made me frustrated when I learned Chinese. It also made me frustrated that as I tried to learn it, she hoped rote memorization of dialogues without the study of the grammar would help me speak it. It didn't. I would go out with my memorized dialogues and try to use them and would have problems when somebody on the street would not answer my question in a manner according to the dialogue. Since I didn't have the rules of grammar explained to me, I had no idea how to respond when somebody broke with the dialogue.
By way of contrast, when I was in Japan and studied a little Japanese, things were different. My Japanese teacher explained the rules of Japanese grammar to me and this gave me the clues I needed to form sentences on my own that I had not been taught in the class. When I practiced my Japanese out on the street, I could form sentences on my own, if somebody answered in a way that I had not been taught in class, since I was given the rules of how to form sentences.

Books are not useless, if you are looking for cheap ways to learn about teaching. And when you take TEFL or CELTA classes, they give you books. The people who write those books likely have been in classrooms of some sort. And many have been in classrooms in other Asian countries that have just as intensive test cultures as Taiwan does.

How can you say there is no accountability when you are giving a workshop? If somebody comes to your workshop and asks you for your advice, and they use it and it works, would they say your workshop was of benefit and go to the next one. And if they feel your workshop didn't offer them any help, wouldn't they not feel inclined to go to the next one? When you give a workshop, don't you feel some accountability to give good teaching strategies to those who have paid their money to attend?

I agree here. The test culture is definitely hurting Asian culture when it comes to acquiring languages from a different continent.


No, that's true for traditional teaching, which teaches rules and then encourages output as a means toward mastery of the language. The students have to learn rules to use the language. CI teaching does not teach rules (overtly), it presents comprehensible input. There is some degree of overt explanation, but it's generally under 5% these days (after considerable action research). Learning to do something is completely different from acquiring the language. There are no societies in which everyone -- every single member -- can play basketball, weave baskets, or milk a goat. But every normal member of every society acquires language without instruction.

This again is traditional teaching -- rules and output. The idea of this type of teaching is that students must be reminded of the rule if they do not use it correctly. In CI teaching, we rarely "explain" why you can't say "there is two dogs", we simply say "Oh, there are two dogs? There are two dogs. Where are the two dogs?" and go on.

Yes. This is called input. Not comprehensible input. I call it "linguistic waterboarding". :smiley:

Traditional teaching. Students will someone magically generalize from a dialogue to fluency. It doesn't happen. In CI teaching (TPRS style at least) the idea is to present the new structures and vocabulary items frequently and in unexpected contexts, so that the brain gets the breadth of information it requires to generalize.

Let me translate this into CI: "Since I hadn't acquired the structure being used, I had no idea how to respond." You do not need to learn grammar rules or have them explained to you to have an idea of how to respond -- you need to have acquired the structures in question.

Yes, this is traditional rules-and-output teaching. You learn the rules, then you plug in some vocabulary and make sentences, with a teacher telling you "right" or "wrong". Then you've "mastered" that grammar point and that set of vocabulary and the class goes on to the next thing on the list.

And they all teach traditionally. There is no substantial presence of CI instruction in today's methods classes. I think that my teaching this summer at the STARTALK session in Hawaii might be the first time someone has put TPRS or CI into a STARTALK for Chinese -- and they do dozens of these things and have for some time now. All traditional teaching.

I feel accountability, of course. I'm teaching CI -- it's the best teaching strategy I know. But the fact is -- there is no assessment. I'm not around when the teacher has to make it work (or not), and the teacher can't exactly come after me and say, "Look here! I tried that CI stuff, and it didn't work!" Likewise, I don't have the opportunity to watch her in the classroom and say, "Well, you're going too fast, and see that student in the second row? See the glazed look? She doesn't understand what you're saying. Focus on her and...." (which is why we're developing coaching as a separate service, to help get people from the "aha!" moment of a workshop to being able to do this reliably day after day in a real classroom.)

It sounds to me -- and I'm not being snarky here -- that you have never experienced or probably seen anything close to CI teaching. You've experienced (the worst of) immersion, with lots of input that no one could understand, and that didn't work. You've experienced rules-and-output teaching. But nothing you describe in your own learning experiences is even vaguely CI.


after the initial testing, and grade 9 students are that poor, don't expect much
all pedagogy aside, it depends how much english exposure these students get outside the classroom...some kids are great, self disciplined, but the majority will only study for what's needed....don't get your hopes up....


ironlady: A couple of questions.

  1. By TPRS textbook, do you mean something only the teacher uses, or do you mean a book the students also have that they
    work through?

  2. Can you recommend a TPRS textbook?

  3. To what extent does the teacher need to speak both the students' native language and the language they are trying to acquire? The reason I ask this is that say you're telling a story and you ask them what the man is wearing on his head, for example. Say you've taught them "hat", but a student responds with something unexpected such as "a breakfast cereal box" in their native language, or wants to use that. I could see that adding something memorable to the story, but how do you handle that situation if you (as the teacher) don't know what they mean (even after they try to use actions, etc.) to explain that word to you? Do you know what I'm getting at? You obviously speak both English and Chinese, and so wouldn't suffer the same kinds of limitations that many of us here would because we don't speak much Chinese.


I have thought about your 3rd question a lot too. I speak Chinese so it isn't a worry for me, but I think because of this point,TPRS might be the perfect methodology for non-native teachers if there L2 is good enough.


So what does Krashen feel himself. I noticed on his video on youtube that he demos German in German without the assistance of English. Does he believe that using the mother language in the class is beneficial? and that one should only speak entrirely in the L2 when it can be easily demonstrated with miming and pictures or that more complicated language can be made understood by learning from the most simplified to less simplified and eventually having the language there to be able explain everything entirely in the L2?


Krashen at this point (as far as I understand the situation) follows standard TPRS and recommends it as the operationalization of his theories for real classroom situations at this point. I don't know what he has on YouTube, but I know that he recommends TPRS, and TPRS does not mime, nor is complicated language made to be understood by working from simplified language (except insofar as vocabulary and structure are sheltered if they have not been acquired, so I suppose it's simplified to some degree. But it's authentic simple language, not a bastardized version of the target language.)


If the video in question is the one I think it is then it's from the mid-80s. A little bit out of date.

Guy In Taiwan posted a vid somewhere of a guy teaching French which is supposedly closer to TPRS. I'm not so sure that anyone could pick up a new teaching approach/method by watching a video. Teaching is a long-term activity and it's not really possible to get it during a brief observation. Similarly, I don't really believe that demos are an effective way of hiring the right teacher.


There are TPRS textbooks with both teacher guides and student editions. They typically contain cartoons to depict a story line, then various exercises after that (retells, literacy development/writing out the story or one like it, and so on.)

Not really. I'm not familiar with any ESL ones that might exist. I found one on a quick Google search, but I have no idea what the content is like, and it was from 2003 -- TPRS has changed quite a lot since then. I'd ask on the More list -- I'm sure there are ESL teachers on there. Pat Verano in Argentina teaches ESL with TPRS, if I'm not mistaken.

It's useful to be fluent in the students' shared language, but you can work around it. Let's say you get the "breakfast cereal box" response. What you would do is designate a star student (the ones who are going to be fidgeting because they feel they aren't learning enough, or who are always learning everything in two seconds while it takes everyone else a lot longer) and give him the responsibility of translating the answer into English for you, perhaps with an electronic dictionary or (probably best if available) an Internet connection. (I can't begin to tell you how many times I used the Internet in class when I was teaching Chinese in the States and the kids would ask me for words I simply didn't know in Mandarin, like "velociraptor"). This is a win-win in classroom management terms: the student has a "job", which makes him feel important and honors his exceptional skills, and you get at least a rough translation which you can refine. (In fact, there are always "jobs" that can be made up in the TPRS classroom to help rein in the loose energies of various "exceptional" individuals in the classroom. :smiley: )

The other thing you can do in such a situation is to anticipate. You would pass out a questionnaire at some convenient time (in Chinese) asking for students to propose a favorite or liked actor, singer, food, .... etc. etc. so that you have a pre-made stock of answer choices that you know the students are interested in. You can then get them translated somewhere and keep them available in a way that you can pick one or more of them when needed. Some teachers use a "suggestion jar" of people, another for places, and another for things even when they DO speak the shared language (like teaching French in the US) simply because they find it reduces the chaos that sometimes ensues when twenty or thirty students get excited about shouting out answers during class. This method has the advantage of not putting you potentially at the mercy of inappropriate answers from the students (which you might not recognize at the time if you don't speak the shared language.)


I don't know who the first teacher is. The only comment I'd have is that she is going rather quickly, and she is using notes which probably means she is not too experienced or confident. Maybe. Again, I don't know. This is just an observation. It's important to realize that the use of actors is optional. You can do a whole lesson without actually having students act anything out if that's more your style.

The Ben Slavic videos should be pretty representative. He was trained by Susie Gross and worked with her quite a lot, and she is quite pure in terms of CI instruction technique. Ben Slavic, though, does tend to move more toward free-form language input. It's still comprehensible, but he doesn't necessarily like to follow a curriculum or word/item list. I agree philosophically that "language is language" but in a school situation (especially if you are not the owner, or don't have tenure) you usually have to teach specific things, and don't have the luxury to just go with the flow. (This is one reason I enjoy teaching one on one via Skype -- I can totally change my plans and "go with it" if something good but unexpected happens linguistically.)


Okay. Thanks. Should I just go ahead and ask about textbooks on the mailing list? The website I looked at that led me to the signup said something about already being trained in TPRS (I assume this is to ensure some level of basic understanding and quality control). Would it constitute some sort of breach in protocol if I just jumped in and asked if someone could suggest a textbook?

Regarding question 3., thanks. I've done similar things to that before, but I wasn't entirely sure how appropriate it was. I have internet access in my classroom.

I'm still holding off on starting TPRS in my classroom until I can get more of an idea about the steps involved, and preferably see enough of it in action (either in person or a recording) so I can see what is happening. A video of a few minutes on Youtube doesn't really go into enough detail from the start to the end of a lesson. I don't want to start doing this and make a real hash of it (or rather, I'd like to make as little of a hash of it as possible).


Speeves and tom: You probably mean this video, right?

I don't think anyone can pick up a whole new method just from one (or even several) short videos.

In another thread ( ... 6&start=40) I wrote:

I'm still waiting on my DVDs to arrive. Hopefully, they'll arrive soon. They're almost eight hours' worth, so I'm hoping there will be plenty of stuff there to really get an idea about things, whether Ben Slavic goes into detail explaining them or there's just a lot of real footage so I can figure out the steps he's taking.

Could a moderator perhaps merge those threads as there seems to be a huge amount of overlap there? Or could we just round up a whole bunch of threads on this topic and have a CI/TPRS sticky mega-thread?


I have been a little confused of late. Basically, am I value for money?

After initial scepticism, I've come round to the idea that input-driven acquisition (under whatever name) is the most effective use of class time. However, I understand my market and I know that TPRS/CI/etc won't roll. I'm also not 100% certain that I could do it; certainly not at a very high level of competence until I'd received full training.

So, if I charge, say, 900NTD an hour using relatively traditional communicative learning techniques (pair/groupwork in particular), how much am I short-changing the punters? In short, how much more would the punters be getting if an experienced TPRS instructor taught them? Also, would my customers be better off with a FOP newbie teaching at, say, 600NTD? Would three hours with a newbie be better than two with me, especially when they are providing pure rich input (albeit not always comprehensible).

I'm having a bit of a crisis.


That would be quite an albeit :slight_smile: I've never met you and can't say for sure, but just going by the quality of your posting here, I'd wager you're worth every penny Tom. At least i'd take you at 2/3 over a newbie :slight_smile:


That's very kind, Tempo Gain.

I think my main point is whether nowadays an experienced teacher in traditional methods beats a totally inexperienced teacher. I'm beginning to feel that the approach I use in the classroom is so wrong that any brand new teacher could come in and do better - provided they adopted some kind of CI based approach.

However, as I've said before I don't think that there is any way that I could sell some kind of CI approach to the punters. They aren't going to buy it. I'm trying to up my input in class, but it's very difficult to sneak it past the students.

Perhaps the future of SLA will be newbies chatting away in a controlled fashion.


What you really need to be asking yourself is whether your teaching is creating a desire in the student to create his own opportunity for CI. If a student goes home and reads or watches youtube clips or movies and the likes in English or listens to an extended amount of English music, because of what you did in an hour, then the amount of CI they are getting far exceeds any price per hour. If you can create that desire then you are worth watever you want.