Total Physical Response Storytelling!!
TPR Storytelling (TPR-S), developed in the 1980's and 90's by Blaine Ray of Bakersfield, California, provides the critical vehicle–storytelling–to utilize and expand acquired vocabulary by contextualizing it in high-interest stories which students can hear, see, act out, retell, revise and rewrite. We often implore our students to "think IN the target language," overlooking the fact that they have not mastered enough language to do so. Easy-to-follow stories and illustrations, on the other hand, give students something to think IN. In addition, the nature of stories allows for endless variety in the classroom. Students add humor, creativity and originality to their own versions of stories. Once having taken ownership, they are then highly motivated to communicate these stories to other students.
TPR-S provides other benefits over traditional approaches to language teaching. Through consistent and comprehensible exposure to grammatically-correct language, students develop an "ear" for language. By allowing students to proceed with natural language acquisition, fluency is promoted. Students no longer edit their speech and interrupt their message to think about grammar rules–the main reason language production in traditional classes is typically low and slow. The low level of stress also enhances fluency, invites participation and increases motivation.
TPR-S eliminates the need for memorization of lengthy vocabulary lists and complex grammar rules, formidable stumbling blocks for most students. In contrast, remembering a story line, especially one you hear, see and act out, is natural and virtually effortless. (If you don't believe this, think about which task you could perform best: telling someone about the plot of your favorite childhood story, or reciting a list of mathematical axioms you were tested on in high school.)
Although formal grammar instruction in TPR-S is delayed, test results show that grammar is nevertheless successfully acquired early in the program. In spring 1993, middle school students in a pilot Pre-Spanish One introductory TPR-S program at Phoenix Country Day School actually scored ABOVE the national average on the Level One National Spanish Exam–a discrete-point grammar test given to high school students who have completed one year of Spanish One. Equally impressive are the results being achieved at the high school level, both in Advanced Placement Test scores and voluntary re-enrollment for language study. TPR-S teachers all over the country are reporting higher enrollment, re-enrollment and test scores.*