TPRS, that is.

I keep being told by well-meaning people that “you have to break up the class period” and “kids can’t concentrate listening to a language for more than 10 minutes”, all that sort of thing. So, every so often, I fall into one of those we’ll-play-it-the-company-way moods and figure, heck, I really should be doing all that.

Not so much.

When I teach “straight” TPRS to my kids — including the seniors — they are better behaved, easier to “manage”, stay on task longer and acquire more language.

When I [am generally ‘suggested to’] put in traditional communicative activities such as pairwork exercises, games and so on, they become rowdy, fall into English, and really don’t learn anything.

The exception to this is very controlled pairwork, such as is done in PowerTeaching (worth Googling if you haven’t heard of it). I don’t use everything in PowerTeaching, but the “class-yes” is invaluable after the kids are trained, and the “teach-okay” is sooo great for breaking up periods of input so that everyone is involved, even those who are still too shy to output the language with confidence.

Incidental benefits? I don’t spend several hours a day making up pairwork activities, cutting them up into pieces, putting them into sets, only to see them half-used for a few minutes and then thrown away.

Oh, and my kids speak Chinese to me in the halls. I mean the first-year kids, too.

I realize a lot of non-TPRS teachers think that “all” TPRS teachers sound smug, but it’s hard not to show that you enjoy your job and your kids when everyone is happy. And “happy” in the educational setting means the kids can succeed AND the teacher knows the goals that are being set are realistic and related to the real world, rather than derived from “what they will have to do next year”.

Kids succeed, kids use the language on their own. They buy dictionaries. They speak to each other outside of class. Parents are happy, therefore no complaints and no angry e-mails. Admin is happy because there are no parent complaints. Teacher is happy because there is an obvious fruit to one’s labor. What’s not to like?