Rachel got to observe an unnamed teacher in an unnamed school and gives her thoughts about the what she saw, comparing TPRS to traditional language instruction. I was impressed with her mastery of the terminology and categories, as well as how she captured the difference in tone, even though she has not taught in her own classroom yet.
Today’s experience only fortified my resolve that TPRS is in most ways, if not all, superior to the traditional methods of teaching foreign language. This fall I will be teaching English in France and hope to use TPRS. I am nervous about jumping into TPRS without traditional teaching experience, especially since I know it will be hard and far from perfect, but all teaching is this way. At least in thanks to TPRS the students are able to acquire language. These are the differences that were most apparent between the traditional classroom and what I see every day as I observe a TPRS classroom my last month state.
- The teacher talked to one student completely in Spanish, while ignoring the others before class:
This was exclusive. Although it was not meant to be discouraging, the teacher was pointing out to all of the students filtering into the room all of the Spanish that they had not learned and did not understand. The language was incomprehensible to all but one student, which certainly did not create a welcoming or safe environment to learn in.
- No checks for comprehension OR Brain Breaks:
No checks for understanding or brain breaks were done all period. The last time I heard, according to education theory, this is done in every classroom, not just with TPRS. The teacher even went so far as to say, “You understand it, correct- correct” and as a slow-processor, if I was a student, I would be totally dismayed. As the students quietly did their worksheets they were not engaged in the task at hand mentally or emotionally as they tend to be with TPRS.
- ER/IR verb conjugations
This was boring and I love languages and was trying to pay attention. On top of that in going over the chart that explains both ER and IR verbs the teacher gave only one example- truly inadequate for both temporary learning and language acquisition.
- “I like the grammar.” –Traditional Teacher
o Well, that is nice, but students generally don’t. Occasionally a student asks a question, which are addressed with things like “grammar pop-ups,” but typically, they find it to be incomprehensible and therefore uninteresting. I certainly don’t blame them for checking out as I certainly did a few times during an explanation of collective nouns. If they are interested they will ask. Again, not comprehensible as most people don’t know the grammar terms in their first language let alone understand them, not interesting, and not repetitive. Although I am sure the students are glad to not have to sit through the grammar lesson multiple times, surely the teacher experiences frustration when the students do not remember these grammar points throughout the year.
- Trivia- in English (or L1)
o As the students were getting antsy to leave the class once they were done with their worksheets the teacher pulled out some trivia. This was worrisome for two reasons. Ideally, students should not want to leave a language class, but at the very least, they should not be standing by the door, backpacks on, anxiously waiting for the bell.
At the end of the period I was again able to take refuge in the TPRS classroom. All in all, I believe this experience to have been a helpful one as it simply firmed up my beliefs that I do not and will not if at all possible ever want to be a traditional language teacher.