On April 7 of 2016 – the time when I was running at full speed away from TPRS (see Hit List category on this page) – I had asked Blaine a seemingly innocuous question in an email but it seems more important now in light of recent developments:
“Blaine, in the 1990’s did you target anything before doing a story? I am interested in the progression of it over the years, if targeting structures has changed or pretty much remained the same in your approach to teaching stories over the years.”
“TPRS started with the idea of pre-teaching all vocabulary. As the stories got longer and the vocabulary got more advanced that became more and more of a problem. I remember spending 2 weeks pre-teaching vocabulary for a story. It was awful. The pre-teaching evolved more and more into teaching mini-stories. It turned out that teaching mini stories was the best use of time anyway.
“We do put targeted structures in our materials because I don’t think teachers would even look at our stuff without them. They are definitely as a group addicted to the idea of structures.
“While I don’t know, I really don’t think they are needed. I have been teaching class all week and I don’t use structures. I look for break down and then practice the breakdown. So when I see breakdown, I then have a structure to work on. The structure comes from seeing where the student isn’t confident.
“As long as teachers get the idea of teaching the frequency words, I see nothing wrong with using those verbs as curriculum. I think most teachers will teach better with structures.
“I was in a class this week where the teacher was using the word “got stuck” in Spanish. At two other schools I asked the non-native Spanish teachers if they knew the word. Not one of them did. I think working on any verb that isn’t pretty high up on the frequency list is not a very good use of time.
“I do think that getting confident with a frequency verb means that the students are at least confident is the I, you, he/she form in the present tense.
“This might have been more than you wanted. It is an interesting idea. Krashen is against structures and he very well may be right.”
“I am writing a new book. Can I use some sentences from your response above?”
“Yes. I think those ideas are important.”
Admins don’t actually read the research. They don’t have time. If or when they do read it, they do not really grasp it. How could