A reader in Europe reports:
I have tried TPRS but if found it very demanding and artificial. I dropped it after 6 months. Currently I am preparing for the next year and taking your latest book A Natural Approach to the Year as a starting point.
I was already a fan of Dr Krashen’s work and your transfer of his theories to the classroom practice is very helpful.
I put it into practice the last two weeks with a class and we all enjoyed it. I do doubt whether or not it (more in particular One Word Images and student jobs) will work with 14-year old students (in their second year of German language instruction). I will find out. 🙂
People who become enamored of CI and try it with kids who have been trained with worksheets and the textbook in years before (i.e. levels 2-4 students) are bound to fail in their endeavor.
Those kids will rebel. It’s too easy for them to memorize for the test like before than do what’s required in this new world – acting like a conscious human being. The irony is that when they arrive at the end of the year, having gotten their way, they invariably realize through word of mouth in the school and test scores that they don’t actually know anything compared to your first years students, and they are embarrassed.
Note that you have to at least offer it in the first week, but you must tell tell them that if they can’t handle it – and they simply won’t be able to – but after the first week of school if they fail to behave like your first year class, that you are officially ending their CI option and then put them back in the book and then stay there.
Don’t even bring it up for the rest of the year. I want to stress that second and third and fourth year classes trained on worksheets and the textbook ARE NOT ABLE to change, so why even try? Give them that first week – you owe them that – and you will see that unless they are a remarkable group of kids, it’s hopeless.
The thing on this is that you should never put yourself in a position of having to struggle to make CI work in your classroom. That’s what kids trained in the textbook do to you. They make it so difficult!
Since I left the TPRS fold five years ago and in the past five years developed the Invisibles and the Natural Approach trilogy, I have seen how beginning kids deserve my hard work in bringing high-quality work to them each day, but kids trained with the textbook don’t deserve it. If they want to tune out, then I should get to tune out. Then they graduate and after a three year time period I get to find out what real teaching is, and I realize that what I thought was the wrong profession for me was actually the right profession.
I’m not speaking from conjecture on this. It may sound harsh, but sometimes the truth is harsh and it is certainly so in this case on this topic.
Just let those kids go – I know it’s hard but do it anyway – and look forward to your beginners every day until in four years you arrive at the point where you are finally happy in your work as a language teacher because of the Invisibles and this non-targeted approach to CI, which is the only way that I know of that truly aligns with the reseearch. I’m not saying TPRS doesn’t work. I’m saying it doesn’t work for me.