History of Language Education

TPR Storytelling was developed by Blaine Ray, a high school Spanish teacher in California, during the 1990s. Ray had found great initial success teaching using Total Physical Response (TPR), but was disappointed when his students stopped finding this technique to be interesting. Ray was familiar with Stephen Krashen's theories, and he was confident that his students would acquire Spanish naturally if he gave them enough comprehensible input. He set about finding a way to combine TPR with stories, with input from Krashen and from other foreign language teachers, and the result was Total Physical Response Storytelling.

This new method kept on evolving with the input of teachers, and by the year 2000 there was a much larger emphasis on reading and the spoken class story, with the time spent doing traditional TPR being greatly reduced. To reflect these changes, the TPRS acronym was changed to stand for Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling. TPRS is now trademarked by Blaine Ray.

Although TPR Storytelling is a growing movement among foreign language teachers, particularly in the United States, it has received little coverage in academia. While the movement originated in the United States, it is beginning to spread to other countries. In the United States the method has gained vocal support from an increasing core of language teachers, and some school districts use it exclusively in their foreign language programs. It has also been used in language revitalization programs.