Amanda writes,

I am thrilled to be learning about this approach to teaching Spanish 1 at my school.  I am feeling a little intimidated by this, however, as I am under the impression that most of those teaching are VERY PROFICIENT.  I am not.  I have studied the language in high school and some college.  I wonder if it is completely necessary that one must know all tenses of verbs to use TPRS.  I work at an elementary school and teach grades 3-8.

Also, the school schedule allows for 5 days of class time every 10 days.  Will this be effective enough for FL acquisition through TPRS? 

I really just want to be more effective and reach all my students, not just the “smart ones.”


Good questions–they show you are thinking at a deep level.   And wanting to teach ALL of your students and not just the “smart” ones is the goal of every true teacher.

Being extremely proficient in the language is helpful when you teach with TPRS, but that is not the only factor that will help your students.  Knowing HOW students learn best is the key, in my opinion.  I encourage you not to compare your language ability to others.  We often compare our weaknesses to the strengths of others.  I know that I have become much more proficient over the years as I have taught with TPRS, and you will too.

You do not have to be expert in all of the verb tenses to teach beginners.  Most beginning programs focus on present tense and simple language, so I believe is is possible to grow with your students as you go.  I would encourage you to work on your language proficiency and the best way to do that is by reading.  Look for materials in the target language that are interesting to you and that you can understand with out having to look up too many words.  I like reading news from sites like, and reading novels.  Reading novels is especially helpful because the story compels your to keep reading and the vocabulary is inherently repeating.

5 days of language class out of every 10 is plenty of time, as long as you are using your time wisely, which in my mind means good classroom management and giving your students interesting comprehensible input.

Keep getting training and keep on communicating.  I would be happy to continue this dialogue as you have more questions and ideas.  I will be presenting on classroom management and on reading at the National TPRS conference in Dallas later this month.