Bob Patrick, co-moderator of Latin Best Practices: Comprehensible Input Resources and 2013 Southern Conference on Language Teaching’s Teacher of the Year, encourages anyone interested in exploring TCI to do three things:
- Observe in a TCI or TPRS® classroom
- Read about Second Language Acquisition research findings
- Find a support group
I reiterated these steps to success from the stage as we concluded iFLT15 in St. Paul and would like to follow that up with some concrete suggestions.
A support group is critical to success. Embracing TCI / TPRS® means taking risks. Initially perhaps it’s the risk of trying new techniques in the classroom. But the larger risk is challenging ourselves on what we believe language learning is and ought to be. Not only do we need help and support with what to do in the classroom tomorrow – what and how we do things, but more importantly with understanding the precepts of Teaching with Comprehensible Input – why we do what we do.
I have always been amazed at the humility and generosity of the TCI / TPRS® greats who are usually more than willing to go the extra mile to explain or respond to any question. The web is abuzz with TCI/TPRS® support groups. Here are just a few I subscribe to:
MoreTPRS listserv and Yahoo Group
Facebook Groups: I monitor a lot of these. If it isn’t linked, find them by searching these key words in your Facebook app.
iFLT/ NTPRS/ CI Teaching
Southwest TPRS/TCI teachers
MN TCI – Comprehension-based World Language Teaching
Reading about Second Language Acquisition
Many of us don’t have time to delve deep into research. Luckily, Dr. Stephen Krashen is in the process of making as many of his papers, articles and books available for free download. Thus, the first place I’ll point you is to his website. Specifically to his writing on Second Language Acquisition.
There are two bloggers who actively and ferociously devour any research they can get their hands on. Eric Herman and Chris Stolz.
Eric’s school website has a ton of great resources for and about Teaching with Comprehensible Input.
Chris writes at TPRS Questions and Answers. A good place to start for a comprehensive review of research is this post on the research supporting CI.
Recently, a joint effort by blogger Sara-Elizabeth Cottrell and Justin Slocum Baily from Indwelling, has produced this fabulous video series which, while not in complete alignment with my understanding of TCI, is pretty accurate and worth viewing.
Observing in a TCI / TPRS® Classroom
This, for me, is the kicker and the way I got started down this path in 2005. As a 7th grade level 1 Spanish teacher I went to observe a colleague in another district. It was March. I sat through a class and don’t recall being particularly wowed. She wasn’t theatrical or flamboyant. Rather she was quite serious. She didn’t have tons of props made of cardboard, nor did she dance on the ceiling. But she held the students’ attention and their participation was stunning. After class, she handed me one of the free writes they had completed in class. It had been unannounced and spontaneous without use of notes. She just reached in and picked one. No kidding! What I saw blew me away. Their writing wasn’t just beyond, but was FAR BEYOND anything my kids could produce at that time. It was in that moment that I knew I could do better and I was determined to figure out how.
If you’re in MN or any of the neighboring states, you are more than welcome to come and observe in my classroom. I have a steady stream of observers throughout the year and I welcome almost everyone with an open door (though it’s closed when I teach to minimize distractions!). There are also many other teachers in my district and surrounding ones that would welcome visitors. But, lucky for you, the amazing Martina Bex has taken the initiative to consolidate names and locations of TCI / TPRS® trained educators who are willing to have visitors. Just click here to view the list of formally trained TCI / TPRS® teachers and find someone near you! And if you are trained and haven’t added your name, do so here.
If you’re new to this, take Bob’s advice. Get into a classroom and observe. Ask any question you have to anyone you know that teaches this way. Read about the power of CI to develop proficiency. You won’t regret it.
If you feel so inclined, please add in the comments field any additional support groups or sources for SLA research that I’ve missed.