‘Asking’ a story is at the heart of the TPRS methodology. TPRS (Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling) is a way of teaching a foreign language. Research shows that if someone is engaged in the content because they understand it and they find it compelling, they will naturally acquire language without effort. Storytelling, where the class participates and adds the details thus ‘owning’ the story, is the most effective way to facilitate the acquiring/learning process.
So today, in my French 8 class we jumped into a story. The students have been working individually on a project developing their persona as virtual French university students in Aix-en-Provence. But because they had been working on google presentations for several weeks before Christmas break, there was not much French language input and I was hungry for that, for me and for them.
By creating a story with them, I planned to tie in a poem they are memorizing (Déjeuner du Matin, by Jacques Prévert) to their lives in the ‘immeuble’ or appartement building.
This was my story prompt.
- There is a man who lives in the apt building who is NOT a student.
Then I asked for his name and his occupation. I called on individual students and so ‘Juan Espasoso’, the building concierge was created. It was fun and a great way to review parts of the poem and ‘immeuble project’ language. The last activity was for them to come up with his principle quality and main character flaw. I had each pair of students invent and jot those down in French on an index card. I’m now picking the most creative and will type up our story so far, so we can ‘read’ and discuss tomorrow.