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TPRS® 101, Step Three: Observe a TPRS® lesson

June 11, 2015

This is the third, very delayed, post in the series “TPRS® 101: Teaching Proficiency is Really Simple”. We just moved to a new home and I have been busy packing, unpacking, cleaning, corralling children, and trying to find things that I need. Today, I found my computer! Hooray! Only 349 unread emails...that will be fun to sort through...

Anyway, this is the third post, and hopefully the others will soon follow. Click here to read other posts in the series.

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If you are able to decipher the acronyms TPRS®, CI, and TCI, and you have a basic understanding of what the goal of a TPRS® lesson is, then I recommend that you get out and observe a TPRS® lesson before you do any further research. It wouldn't be detrimental to read more before seeing a lesson, but because TPRS® lessons are so different than traditional world language lessons, being able to recall a lesson that you have experienced is really helpful while you are reading more about the method.

The absolute best thing to do is to observe a live lesson. You will be able to observe with all five of your senses (well, maybe not taste....hopefully the teacher will smell good...okay so with a bunch of your senses...), and, more importantly, you will be able to debrief with the teacher. To this end, I have begun to compile a list of formally trained TPRS® teachers. Click here to view the list of formally trained TPRS® teachers and find one geographically near you! Don't be afraid to ask your administration for a sub day to go and observe one of these teachers--the worst that they can say is "no!", and many administrators are supportive of this highly effective method of professional development. If you are a formally trained TPRS® teacher and would like to be on the list, please fill out this form to submit your information.

Why 'formally trained'? I don't specify it to be a snooty-pants, I promise! It is my attempt to guarantee that what you see in the lesson is true, modern, TPRS®. I had a very wrong idea of what TPRS® was before I began learning about it from Michele Whaley. My idea was based on antiquated information from a methods course and my own imagination. Many teachers have observed their colleagues using TPRS® or read about it in a book or on a blog, but they have never been to a workshop in which they are coached in the essential skills of TPRS®. You would never allow a doctor that had not been to medical school to teach you how to do heart surgery, would you? Likewise, when you are learning how to teach a TPRS® lesson, you need to learn from someone that has been to TPRS® school. Now, of course there is still much margin for error, but finding a formally trained TPRS® teacher is at least some kind of a protection plan.

La crème de la crème

If you want to go straight to the top and guarantee that you are seeing TPRS® in its most pure, most lovely, most effective form, then make haste and register for one of the summer conferences. iFLT 2015 is July 14-17 in St. Paul, MN, and it only offers excellent training for both beginning and experienced TPRS®/TCI teachers AND the unique opportunity to observe master TPRS® teachers in action over the period of several days. In iFLT's "Language Labs", master teachers from around the country are plunked in a room with a bunch of local students for the duration of the conference, and conference attendees are able to sit in on the lessons each day to observe the classes. Afterward, attendees debrief with the teachers. It is an awesome opportunity, and one that is worth every penny that you (or your district) will spend to get there. Click here to learn more about iFLT and register today. NTPRS 2015 is July 20-24 in Reston, VA (just outside DC), and there you have the opportunity to observe the founder of the methodology, Blaine Ray. Click here to learn more about NTPRS. I will be at both conferences this year, and I would be delighted to see you at either!

Other ways to observe

If it is impossible for you to observe a lesson in person, the next best option is virtual observation. After observing a Russian lesson by Michele Whaley, she sent me home with a set of DVDs from a previous NTPRS conference to watch at home. I sat down in front of my TV with a notebook and watched them over a weekend, then jumped full-on into TPRS® on Monday. You can purchase those DVDs here. Another option is to watch the many demos available on YouTube, which I will be collecting on this TPRS®/CI Demos board on Pinterest. Please add links to demos that I need to add to the board in the comments section!!

Alright, why are you still sitting here reading this post?? Get out and find a TPRS® teacher to observe!!

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