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About TPRS

Understandable input

There is now broad consensus that getting a lot of rich, understandable input  most important condition  is for language acquisition. TPRS offers the teacher tools with which he/she can really provide a lot of  input, which is for all students  understandable  is and also very  polymorphous  is. The input is largely narrative and contains many dialogues, initially mainly between characters in the stories and between teacher and students, later also between students themselves.



What all researchers and language didactics agree on is  that much has to be repeated. There is still a difference of opinion about the number of repetitions required. It is often spoken of 5-15 or 7 repetitions. These numbers come from psychological research and concern the conscious withholding of information. Since TPRS strives for fluency, which requires lightning fast,  unconsciously and automatically  language information retrieval is necessary, TPRS assumes that there are  much more reps needed  than the aforementioned numbers. The number can, depending on the part of speech, degree of marking  and meaning and emotional charge of individual words, range from 1 to 150 or even more.


Complex language tasks

Speaking and writing tasks are by definition complex and unguided within TPRS, because they are aimed at natural, flexible and communicative language use. Telling and restructuring stories in many variants requires flexible language skills at every level and higher cognitive skills such as structuring and arguing. Due to the many repetitions in the input that precedes these tasks, students are able to actually perform these complex tasks.


Meaning Grammar

According to recent insights from research in cognitive linguistics, grammar in our brains does not exist in the form of rules, but generalizations.  In the brain, every word is part of many networks, in which semantic and grammatical properties are linked. When acquiring our mother tongue, the brain receives enough comprehensible input (20,000 hours up to the age of 6 alone) to be able to puzzle out for itself which properties each word has and in which way all grammatically correct sentences can be composed. In language classes, there simply isn't enough time to let our brains figure it out for themselves.  Awareness and “awareness” of grammatical elements  appears to be of great help in acquiring grammatical correctness more quickly. TPRS chooses to do this through very brief explanations about the  meaning of grammatical elements  in context, and then asking many, often contrastive, questions about the element in question, each time it reappears. This is a low-threshold and (because non-abstract) form of grammar instruction accessible to everyone, which has proven to be very effective.


Personal involvement

All language didactics textbooks speak of the need to make the teaching material interesting for students by  to establish a relationship with one's own world of experience  from the students. TPRS takes this literally and makes the students' own living and experiential world the focus of the lessons. On the one hand, students carry with their  own ideas  contribute to the stories that are made up in the classroom, and on the other hand, the teacher conducts conversations with students in which the teacher  real interest  shows and goes much deeper into the subject than usual. The high level of detail of information obtained with this (all within the bounds of propriety, of course, and with respect for the limits of the individual learner) makes these conversations  also more interesting for the other students  than the mere fact of whether someone is wearing a red or a blue shirt. In addition, all other students are consistently actively involved in the “personal conversations”. The advantages of this method include: it automatically supplies the vocabulary required for this target group; students are  more motivated  when it comes to themselves; there are  naturally  use different verb forms than in the narrative part.

When can you use TPRS®?

TPRS can be used as a stand-alone teaching method, especially in the first three years of the curriculum.  However, many teachers who work with TPRS choose to use some techniques from TPRS, or only use TPRS at certain moments in the curriculum, for various reasons.

So... can I combine TPRS with the teaching method used at my school?

In principle, this is not necessary, because with TPRS you can learn all language skills and therefore do not need a regular textbook. However, it is possible to combine, and in practice this is often done.  Also read the article by  Helen Hol and Barbara Hoevenaars  about the TPRS practice in the Netherlands.


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