People often wonder how TPRS teachers can maintain the creativity and stamina required to use such a method. The teacher tends to be a major source of comprehensible input for the students and it is sometimes a challenge to be cute, funny, engaging, 90% in the target language AND comprehensible!
When I first started using TPRS, I used to script out my stories, leaving room for a few personalized details. Now, after having used the method for over 15 years, I am capable of “winging it” most of the time. However, there are days when it falls flat or certain classes that just don’t really get into it. I am also now mentoring a fantastic intern teacher from Michigan State University who is openly embracing the concept of teaching with comprehensible input, and I am trying to find ways of making the whole process easier for her.
In reality, the storytelling process (or “storyasking” process as it is often affectionately known by TPRS practitioners) is quite a bit like the concept of Mad Libs. You have the skeleton of a plot and then fill in the details. Once you start filling in those details, you “circle” the details with questions. Here are some videos of Carol Gaab teaching with great examples of TPRS if you are interested!
Today, in Spanish 1, we literally made a Mad Lib for students to complete with a partner. After that, we asked students to share some of their stories. We then verbally circled those stories. Great comprehensible input! And it was fantastic for those couple of reluctant groups to see how fun storytelling can be!