TPRS | Ben Slavic TPRS and Comprehensible Input Training

Ben's TPRS Audio Training CDs

"Tired Of Being Told By Parents and Others That Kids Need To Memorize Word Lists To Learn A Language? Then Read Further On This Page!"

Since many parents and school administrators don’t understand the kind of success we get in TPRS, and in order to keep my administrators’ view of my grading system as one that reflects a “normal” grade distribution, I have created some CDs that go with the French and Spanish Thematic Units on the “posters” page of this website.

By copying and pasting these thematic units into your class website, and by distributing copies of the CDs to your students (free copyright on both the word lists and the CDs), you will impress administrators, parents and students with the content of your class website. Not too many kids will use them, but you have the CYA right there on your site if you want it. These lists are designed to be used:

  • In classrooms or for individual study.

  • As differentiated instruction for students who are behind in their regular classes.

  • As differentiated instruction for students who like extra work.

  • As a testing program (see below).

  • In classes from middle school to college.

In many districts, students are required to learn vocabulary grouped around certain thematic units like weather, time, clothing, etc. If I were to take the time to actually teach these words as discrete items in class, I would effectively be prevented from doing what I believe in – using comprehensible input in my classroom at all times. Yet I have to teach those words.

Therefore, I have taken each word required by my district for level 1 Spanish and French put them into lists and recorded them on CDs.

You are invited to download those thematic units (and some sample tests, so far in French only) from this site and transfer them to your site at no charge.

In case I'm unable to bring certain of the thematic unit vocabulary into stories during the year, I can be assured that the students who have done this work at home know the words and are ready for level 2 in the way that traditional teachers expect.

By assigning the work to be done at home, those who do it are rewarded. Those who don’t do the work can’t just get an easy A by merely coming to class and paying attention to the stories and readings. It really is a good system, because at parent conferences I am able to tell parents and administrators that I give homework and big monthly vocabulary tests, and I can ask the parent if the child has been working with the words to prepare for the monthly tests.

This reverses the discussion in parent conferences with parents who want to accuse the teacher of not doing enough – the teacher changes the discussion by simply asking the parent if the child has been doing the thematic unit work at home. The answer is almost always no, and the onus of responsibility goes right back to the family unit where it belongs.

As odd as it sounds, teachers who do not do those things in their foreign language classrooms are often perceived as going against the culture, which involves judging kids and finding things wrong with them.

How do I test using these CDs? I randomly choose 50 words every thirty days from the color coded lists that you see on the French Thematic Units on the posters, etc. page. Each test in my classroom occurs on the 8th of each month, to make the test predictable for the students. Students can make up a failed test at anytime.

Find the tests (as stated above in French only so far) on the posters page.

You will be surprised and pleased at how this approach forces students to learn these words. They work to your advantage in many ways:

  • The onus of responsibility lies with the child.

  • You don’t have to do daily checks for homework, and therefore can get right into teaching for fluency in each class.

  • The students ostensibly know the vocabulary that they need to know for level 2.

  • The students are held accountable for outside work, allowing you to create the image of a responsible teacher who gives tests and homework and who rewards hard working students, thus making your TPRS program fit more naturally into the actual memorization based school environment.

  • You don’t have to worry about using words like pencil sharpener and stapler in stories, which are not really great words for stories.

  • Kids love lists.

  • Parents have no way of pointing the finger at you, which is increasingly common in schools, if their child doesn’t get a high grade.

  • By balancing the high grades earned in class because the kids love the stories so much, the thematic unit tests are another way to make TPRS work in the restrictive environment of schools, which seem to be based on the archaic idea that, if all the kids are doing well, then there is something wrong with the teacher’s program of study.