Archive for the ‘Chinese-specific’ Category

Wow, this list of 100 English fairy tales are great to use for Level 1 TPRS stories!

Except they really aren’t. They are not (for the most part) familiar stories, which means you can’t use background knowledge. They are not simple stories, which means lots of words are needed. IMO these stories don’t belong in a Chinese L1. You might get away with them in a language with cognates, if you’re conscientious […]

When do you do Step 1?


I think the issue many people are having of late about “establishing meaning” and whether it can or cannot be done via gesture comes from numbering the “steps” of TPRS. Most people aren’t actually establishing meaning solely using gestures (it’s inefficient, imprecise and unneeded in most cases), but gesturing really should be just an adjunct, […]

The case against 是 (shi4)

So you’re starting a new class using TPRS for Chinese.  The first thing to figure out, in Chinese, is what language you will be using with them, followed closely by “what will they read that contains that language?” Many new TPRS teachers want to go basically the same route as traditional teaching, or maybe their […]

Naturalistic comprehensible input: does it work for Chinese?

On a language teachers’ list, the statement was recently made by a teacher interested in the debate about naturalistic CI versus optimized CI: I have some plans to work with some Mandarin teachers to test this [naturalistic input] out.  They have not been trained in CI at all but they are eager learners.  I am […]

Is more support needed to read Chinese?

On a teachers’ email list, the comment was recently posted: I definitely need more than the text to understand even simple Chinese stories. Translation is ONE way of making tests more comprehensible. But I think we need to exploit other ways as well, including gestures, pictures, body movements, etc. Or not. This is a basic […]

Cold Character Reading: Conditions for Success

Cold Character Reading is very simple in theory: get some oral language into the students’ heads, then have them directly jump to reading that same language (but a story or text they have never seen or heard before, not something they already know the meaning of) using a non-phonetic writing system like Chinese characters, or […]

Tone smackdown: ears vs brain

So, Chinese has tones. Yeah. The thing everyone fears, and talks about, and comes up with practices and apps and all that stuff to “teach”. And yet it’s really, really easy to get tones into students’ heads. 1. Lots of input. I mean lots. Nope, more than that. Lots of input they can understand, showing […]

Mind your tone

We don’t teach tones. (By “we”, I mean myself and the people who’ve trained with me. There are still TPRS people who insist on teaching or drilling tones, not realizing that it’s no different from drilling spelling. It’s still rules-and-output.) And don’t even get me started on “traditional” teaching, where the student sits in the language […]

Tonally Orthographic Pinyin system infographic

After not realizing for a long time that there wasn’t any information about the Tonally Orthographic Pinyin system of triple-marked tones for teaching Mandarin up on my web site, I finally got my act together and made an attempt at summarizing the rules and some of the benefits of the system in an infographic. It […]

TPRS™ and the Issue of Initial vs. Target Fluency

From a language teachers’ list: TPRS is used for teaching fluency.  We use it whenever students don’t have “ease of expression”.  Ease of expression means they speak with confidence, accuracy and without hesitation.  It is been my exprience that “ease of expression” does not happen in just four years of Spanish.  I agree that TPRS works […]

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