Archive for the ‘Methods’ 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 […]

C is for Comprehended


I’ve thought about how I teach. And I’ve realized I do not teach with comprehensible input. I teach with comprehended input.   Comprehensible is not enough. Something that “can” be comprehended is not always comprehended. Especially with all the kinda-sorta definitions of “comprehensible” floating around these days. There must be a match between meaning and […]

“Untargeted input”: a nonstarter for Chinese

So, here’s the thing with targeting. You know, planning what you’re going to teach before the teaching happens. And having teaching happen, as opposed to just “saying that” and hoping it will stick by the end of the year. Why do I always sound so negative about those “nontargeted” techniques? Surely many teachers are doing […]

Who does that, indeed?


On a TPRS teachers’ listserv, the comment was recently made: I find it unfair to suggest that we should just make the story “like a movie in their minds” but oh, we get to stop the movie whenever we want and ask them what happens during the movie…Who does that? Oh, I dunno…maybe someone who […]

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 […]

Target language math

10 minutes of 60% comprehensible = 600 comprehension-units, and we don’t know if the meaning to language matches are correct or not. 9 minutes of 90% comprehensible = 810 comprehension-units, and we know all of them are correct. That 1 minute of English is well used, not abused. And for those who have doubts whether […]

It’s baaaack

I’m afraid I do not see sufficient elemental differences between “story-listening” and anything else to consider story-listening an independent method. It’s TPRS 1.0 coming back, like the miniskirt, and has the same disadvantage: that all the varied bodies in question have to happen to fit the skirt for it to work, because like very early […]

Tough love about the smart kids

A comment recently came up on a teachers’ group: I have 2 groups with only high profile students, ages 8 to 12. I notice that their minds work very differently from the average student. I also notice that hardly any of the TPRS / CI activities that I do with them, works. On the contrary, […]

Input by the numbers

On a teachers’ discussion group, the question recently came up: Any suggestions for teaching numbers up to 100? I know they can naturally come up in stories…but I feel like it doesn’t happen often enough and doesn’t regularly cover every “ten.” Or should I just do more of it?! The post garnered a number of […]

Paralysis by analysis

On a social media group for teachers, the following question (actually pretty far removed from the title of this post!) was recently posted: Could you share resources that you’ve used to infuse your TPRS lessons with cultural perspectives? As I waited for my server to let me into my own blog — some sort of […]

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