Methods - tprstories

TPR Storytelling and other Comprehensible Input methods

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  • The Natural Approach
  • TPR Storytelling
  • Lesson Planning
  • How to Assess
  • What to tell and show parents and administrators
  • Random Questions
  • Resources

The Natural Approach

Krashen’s 5 Hypotheses
(More about Stephen

  • The input hypothesis
  • (The comprehension hypothesis)
  • The acquisition-learning hypothesis
  • The natural order hypothesis
  • The affective filter hypothesis
  • The monitor hypothesis

TPR Storytelling, invented by Blaine Ray

Other sites that explain TPRS:,

STEP 1: Introduce and personalize the vocabulary

  • Write vocabulary word in target language and English
  • Gesture / Mnemonic devices / memory aids
  • Ask the students personal questions utilizing vocabulary
  • Ask students about each other
  • Seek responses that make the students look good
  • Seek liars
  • Encourage unusual responses
  • Watch barometer students ensure 100% comprehension
  • If possible, use the information from the PQA in the PMS

Don’t tell the story…
Co-create the story with your students
You are the story editor  (NOT the storyteller!)

STEP 2: Ask the Story

Three main skills:  Circling, Parking and Personalization


  • Statement
  • Question that gets a “YES!”
  • Either/or question
  • Question that gets a “NO”
    No… there isn’t… there is…
  • Circle the subject and the object.  Aim for 14 reps in order and then practice circling out of order.


  • Who wants an elephant?
  • What does the boy want?
  • Does the boy want an elephant or a gorilla?
  • Does the boy want a gorilla?
  • No, the boy doesn’t want a gorilla, the boy wants an elephant.
  • What does the boy want?
  • Who wants an elephant?
  • Does the boy or the girl want an elephant?
  • Does the girl want an elephant?
  • No, the girl doesn’t want an elephant, the boy wants an elephant.
  • What does the boy want?
  • Does the boy have an elephant or does he want an elephant?
  • Does he have an elephant?
  • No, he doesn’t have an elephant, he wants an elephant?
  • Who wants an elephant?
  • What does the boy want?
  • Does the boy want a cat?
  • No, the boy doesn’t want a cat, he wants an elephant?
  • Does Maria want an elephant?
  • No, Maria doesn’t want an elephant, the boy wants an elephant.
  • Who wants an elephant?
  • What does the boy want?


  • Who?
  • What?
  • Where?
  • When?
  • Which?
  • How?
  • How much?
  • How many?
  • Why?

3. PERSONALIZATION Student Interest Inventory form


The 5 Love Languages of Children, Gary Chapman & Ross Campbell, MD
Filling up the emotional love tank with unconditional love.

  • Physical Touch
  • Words of Affirmation
  • Quality Time
  • Gifts
  • Acts of Service

Personalize every word, every step, every day.



  • Slow, deliberate, separated

2. ASK THE STORY (Circling)

  • Ask questions
  • Circle the words for negation
  • Ask low-level questions (students answer yes/no/ one word)
  • Leave blanks –students fill-in
  • Make mistakes (students correct)
  • Ask who? What? Where? When? How much? How many? How often?
  • Ask how and why (last)
  • Never make two statements in a row.


  • Teach to the eyes! Look at the audience, not at the actors.
  • Slow down sign / Stop sign / Completely lost sign
  • The pause
  • Responding to a Zero response
  • Staying “in-bounds.”  (The “boundaries” are the locations, the language that the barometer student has already
  • mastered, the words or phrases of the day, and completely comprehensible cognates.)


  • Use compliments  (Who is most handsome boy in world? Brad Pitt or Paco?)
  • Use the names of the students (and personalize the story)
  • Use the information from the PQA.
  • Really listen to and enjoy student responses.


  • Get volunteer actors
  •  Coach melodramatic acting
  • Over-react
  • Students act-out the story while teacher blocks, directs and maneuvers
  • Use 3 locations


  • Get student input
  • Encourage audience participation (¡Ooo la la!/¡Booooo /¡Oooh!/¡Oh no!/ ¡Sí!)
  • Student responses per minute should be a minimum of 10.
  • Exaggerate or drastically minimize size, quality and quantity


  • Demonstrate deep belief in the story!
  • Fantasy
  • Personalized details
  • Exaggerate
  • “Casi” (almost) technique: (all in the target language)
  • Student responses
  • “How does he react?” (¿cómo reacciona?)
  • Everything is possible in German class. : (all in L2)
  • Designate one responder
  • Keeping control of the story.
  • It’s my story!
  • Never ask why.
  • Es un secreto
  • Combine details


  • Use translation to clarify grammar and structure. (Pop-up meaning)
  • Pop-ups: Focus on the  Meaning of structures (1-5 seconds per pop-up.)
  • Pop-ups through stories
  • Pop-ups through dialogue
  • Pop-ups through PQA
  • Pop-ups through Reading

STEP 3: Reading

  1. Translate reading passages, PMSs, extended readings and novels.
  2. One student translates.
  3. Teacher provides instant translation for incomprehensible words.
  4. Make sure that students understand every word.
  5. Use translation to explain grammar and meaning in 5-15 seconds.
  6. Discuss the reading in the target language.
  7. Ask personalized questions about the reading.
  8. Discuss the cultural information in the story, geography.
  9. Use the story to teach life lessons.
  10. Act out scenes.
  11. Discuss what the character learns in the story.
  12. Other essential reading components: Free Voluntary Reading and Read Alouds

Lesson Planning

How to Assess

  • Michael Miller on Effective Testing:
  • Free proficiency exams:
  • (answer to the question, how to teach to the standards?)
  • “Weighing the pig more often will not make it grow faster.” Dr. Stephen Krashen

    Unannounced vocabulary quiz
    Tests are unannounced and, most of the time, test for acquisition, rather than learning.  Tests are also infrequent in an attempt to reserve class time for comprehensible input.

    100 words in 5-10 minutes.  Once a week.  Use a spiral notebook.  Keep track of progress.  Students count and record their number of words each week.  Fluency grade, not accuracy grade.

What to tell and show parents and administrators

Random questions

  • Art transparencies
  • Absences — Lend books on CD, have a student re-write the daily story (proof and share), record the class,  give vocabulary lists and pre-written stories, give circling CD
  • Sub plans (10 minute freewrite.  10 minutes FVR. Show a movie.  You are irreplaceable.)
  • Mixing levels / native speakers — this is a problem with the program.  Lobby for native speaker classes. Use native speakers to help with absences, recording daily stories)
  • Extra credit – 1 point on each taste.  Tell me what’s going on in your life?


Foreign Language Education the Easy Way by Dr. Stephen Krashen

Learning Another Language Through Actions by Dr. James Asher

The Power of Reading, 2nd edition by Dr. Stephen Krashen

  • The International Journal of Foreign Language Teaching (free subscription, on-line journal, current research)
  • (Join the listserv to ask questions, explore the files)
  • Karen Rowan
    Karen Rowan Workshops, Inc /
    Director, Fluency Fast Language Classes /
    Editor, The International Journal of Foreign Language Teaching
    1-866-WWW-FLUENCY / 719-633-6000MISSION: The mission of Fluency Fast is to create and sustain a movement  that causes a global shift in consciousness by transforming communications among  individuals, communities, and countries and inspiring people to use language as a tool to build bridges with other cultures.  Our goal is to dispel the myth that learning languages is difficult and to inspire people to have fun learning Arabic, French, German, Mandarin, Russian and Spanish, easily, inexpensively, effectively and in a brief period of time.