Tuesday, July 22, 2014


It's been so long! The last time I was at NTPRS (the national TPRS convention) was in 2006.  I wasn't able to go until this year, when my school graciously agreed to pay my way.  When I first came, I was kind of in a culture shock. So much had changed, and here I was, not knowing what that meant for me.

It is now Tuesday, and the week so far has  been a pleasant surprise.  I'm discovering that my own path with TPRS has pretty much changed in tandem with the group as a whole.  The things that are different--most significantly staying with the 7 most commonly used verbs until they're mastered--make good sense to me.  I am getting more and more motivated every day.  I am thrilled to be among friends.                                

You may wonder how I consider myself among friends if I came by myself.  Nobody else from my school was able to make it.  But I stand by what I say.  We all know and love each other for a variety of different reasons.  Here are just a few:
  • We all love teaching language
  • We all know that TPRS works better than anything else we've tried
  • We realize that like any other good method, TPRS "breathes".  It doesn't stay stagnant. It is aware of the needs of our students, and it changes as we discover better and more logical ways to meet those students' needs.
  • Many, if not most of us know each other by name, if not by sight.  We know each other through the Morelist, though the blogs, through the websites, or through Facebook. 
  • Many of us (not all, though) are united in a struggle to bring the best teaching we can, even though there are others in our lives who would rather we didn't.  And even though some of us, like me, are no longer in that situation, we can certainly relate, either through earlier experiences or through listening empathetically to their stories.
I am extremely fortunate.  I know that I am. I had the full support of my administration when I started teaching using LICT and LICTM, and that lasted for about four years.  I don't think I could have stuck it out if my administration hadn't approved.  By the time the administration changed, I was thoroughly convinced that TPRS was the way to go--so much so that I fought for the right to teach it.  I won that fight, though I later lost the war at my school and knew that I had to leave a bad situation. When I moved, I moved to a TPRS department.  I realize my good fortune in that.

I think that there is something else, something more important than anything I've mentioned before.  There is an attitude of love and respect for each other.  You can see it in the coaching classes, where the coaches remind us that we aren't here to criticize the person, just give help in their coaching style. You can see it in people in charge who constantly seek to make sure that the rest of us are doing well. I was grateful for that, especially on the first day of the convention, when my exhaustion and insecurity got the better of me, leaving me depressed. 

Some faces have gone, some faces have changed, but the mission stays the same; bring TPRS teachers the best and most comprehensive conference possible so that they can go home and share the wealth with the most important audience there is: our students.

Now that I've said all that, I am going to leave you with a story.  This is a true story; it happened to me in the conference in Vermont.

There was a girl named Meg.  She was at a TPRS conference in Burlingon, Vermont.  She was so excited to be there that she decided to try everything.  The first day of the conference, she was in a class that was learning German.  The teacher, Laurie Baird asked for volunteers to help demonstrate TPR.  Meg raised her hand and was chosen. She was so excited! She jumped out of her chair and ran down the aisle.

Meg had a problem.  She did not see the computer cord that was on the floor.  As she ran down the aisle, her foot caught on the cord and Meg fell flat on her face! Oh no, oh no!  She thought that she heard something snap, but decided that somebody broke a pencil.  She got up and sat in one of the chairs in front.

Later that night, Meg's big toe started throbbing.  She took some aspirin, but it still hurt.  She told her friend Lupe, and Lupe decided that the best thing to do was go for a walk. So Meg and Lupe went for a long walk.  Meg's toe didn't feel better, but she did get to try sweet potato fries for the very first time.  The next day was the immersion dinner. Meg decided to go to the German dinner, and she got to see the surviving Trapp Family Singers at their restaurant in Stowe, Vermont.  But Meg was too shy to ask for an autograph.

Meg had a great week, even though her big toe hurt all the time.  After she came home, she went to a doctor and--how terrible--Meg had broken her toe when she fell!  Even though she had a broken toe, Meg was still happy that she went.  She broke her toe, yes, but she also got to see the Trapp Family Lodge! She felt that the conference was truly wunderbar!


  1. Interesting post and cute story at the end. I agree with your statement that you feel you're among friends at a TPRS conference. This community of CI/TPRS teachers is welcoming, nurturing, and forward thinking, always with the needs of their students in the forefront.

    Thank you for all you do on this blog to help new and veteran language teachers. :-)

  2. Thank you for your comment! :)


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