TPR Storytelling

TPR Storytelling (Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling or TPRS) is a method of teaching foreign languages. TPRS lessons use a mixture of reading and storytelling to help students learn a foreign language in a classroom setting. The method works in three steps: in step one the new vocabulary structures to be learned are taught using a combination of translation, gestures, and personalized questions; in step two those structures are used in a spoken class story; and finally, in step three, these same structures are used in a class reading. Throughout these three steps, the teacher will use a number of techniques to help make the target language comprehensible to the students, including careful limiting of vocabulary, constant asking of easy comprehension questions, frequent comprehension checks, and very short grammar explanations known as "pop-up grammar". Many teachers also assign additional reading activities such as free voluntary reading, and there have been several easy novels written by TPRS teachers for this purpose.

TPR Storytelling prioritizes the development of fluency over grammatical accuracy. Proponents of TPR Storytelling, basing their argument on the second language acquisition theories of Stephen Krashen, hold that the best way to help students develop both fluency and accuracy in a language is to expose them to large amounts of comprehensible input. The different steps and techniques in TPR Storytelling help teachers to provide this input by making the language spoken in class both comprehensible and engaging. In addition, TPR Storytelling uses many concepts from mastery learning. Each lesson is focused on just three vocabulary phrases or fewer, enabling teachers to concentrate on teaching each phrase thoroughly. Teachers also make sure that the students internalize each phrase before moving on to new material, giving additional story lessons with the same vocabulary when necessary.

TPR Storytelling is unusual in that it is a grassroots movement among language teachers. After being developed by Blaine Ray in the 1990s, the method has gained popular appeal with language teachers who claim that they can reach more students and get better results than they could with previous methods. However, so far it has seen little support from publishers or academic institutions. Teachers have instead published their own materials and teaching manuals, and training in TPR Storytelling is generally offered at workshops by existing TPRS teachers rather than at teacher training college.