The following articles are a collection of my thoughts and things I have learned about teaching. Many of the articles were originally email messages. Message such as these are often posted on the bulletin board.

If you are not a member of the bulletin board,


NEW! Contrastive Grammar – GET PDF
The primary tool for encouraging language acquisition is skillful questioning. While most people grasp the concept of “circling” at an elementary level, they are unsure how to apply it to upper level grammar topics. This article illustrates how to use circling questions (yes/no either/or and simple question words) for the purpose of teaching the Present Subjunctive.

NEW! Reading is Essential in Second Language Classes – GET PDF
Because reading has been proven to promote language acquisition faster than anything (even faster than a teacher!) it is a crucial ingredient in language classes. This article discusses a variety of reading practices, why they are important and how to implement them.

Administrator Checklist for Observing a TPRS Classroom – GET PDF
It is daunting for an administrator to enter a foreign language classroom and not understand what is being said for most of the class period. Consequently they are unable to offer helpful suggestions to their FL teachers. The same administrator, armed with this checklist, can observe and comment on the behaviors that help your students acquire language. Everybody wins!

Brain-Based Teaching – GET PDF
TPR Storytelling® is the ideal method for reaching language students of all levels and abilities. Why is TPR Storytelling® so successful? Because the practices of TPR Storytelling® are supported by brain research. Read this article to see how TPR Storytelling® is a perfect way to implement “brain-based teaching.”

Developing Foreign Language Fluency – GET PDF
This article was originally published in PEALS, the professional journal of the Colorado Congress of Foreign Language Teachers. It explains the characteristics of “fluency” as it applies to the four language skills.
‘Developing Foreign Language Fluency’ PEALS 2001 Volume 38, Number 2

OFLA Article – GET PDF
Article written about my upcoming workshop at the Ohio Foreign Language Association Conference. Printed in the Cardinal Newsletter December 2003. Used with permission from OFLA.

Back-to-School Night – GET PDF
My junior high school had “Back-to-School night” every fall. The parents came to school and followed their child’s schedule, spending 9 minutes in each class. This back-to-school program provided the parents with a good understanding of the method, and how it feels to learn this way. Cat Story Illustrations – GET PDF
These files contain illustrations for the cat story.

The Three Ring Circus – GET PDF
Michael Miller describes how to get beginners comfortable with future, present, past indicative as well as the imperative during the first few weeks of language class! He includes examples so that all teachers can easily see how to apply the “Three-ring Circus” developed by Berty Segal.

Why TPR Storytelling “works” – GET PDF . GET DOC
This is a message I sent to someone who wondered why TPR Storytelling works beautifully for some people while having less stellar results for others. I point out the importance of good questioning and constant assessment.

A common question among TPRS teachers is how to get away from the pre-written stories and truly personalize the class. I found that PQA enabled me to talk to, with, and about my students all period long, every day.

Importance of Using Natural Language in Level One Classes – GET PDF.GET DOC
We all speak by using language that sounds right to us. If students do not get sufficient input that models sophisticated grammar, how are they going to become comfortable using those structures when they reach level 3 or level 4? If we wait until level 3 or 4 to speak with these structures, we are not likely to get a good result. The reason is that we expect students to produce something that does not sound right to them.

The Natural Order of Acquisition – GET PDF .GET DOC
One of Krashen’s hypotheses holds that language features tend to be acquired in a predictable order. Furthermore, the order of acquisition cannot be altered by instruction. It is my suspicion that the order of acquisition hypothesis explains why American schools have been unable to produce a sizable population of foreign language speakers. Students have to battle the frustration of trying to do something that is impossible: use a language feature in natural speech when they are not yet ready to acquire it. This article will explain Krashen’s hypothesis and at the same time it should ring a few bells (AHA! So that’s why they still don’t make their adjectives agree!) for all language teachers.

The Impact of Homework and Grammar Tests – GET PDF .GET DOC
This article expresses my thoughts at the end of the 2000-2001 academic school year. After several years of TPR Storytelling with strong success and high grades, I agreed to give grammar tests and homework. The impact on my students was negative.

Nothing Motivates Like Success – GET PDF .GET DOC
This article explains the power of sincere, specific praise. The principle is demonstrated with an example of a dull class that was turned around by positive messages.

Advanced Technique: Believe the Story – GET PDF .GET DOC
A colleague wrote an email to me summarizing what went on in one of his classes. He had the basics of TPR Storytelling going well, but he needed to make his class more lively. This is my email reply to him. I recommended that he begin to work on the advanced technique called “Believe the story.”

Wide Range of Ability in Upper Level Classes – GET PDF .GET DOC
Because TPR Storytelling is successful with all learners, we tend to get double or triple the enrollment in our upper-level classes. It is validating to have so many students continue in the language, but it also changes the character of the upper-level classes. Once the domain of the academic elite, upper-level TPR Storytelling classes have a full range of students. How can we meet the needs of such a diverse population? This article offers a solution.

Summer Reading Program – GET PDF .GET DOC
Colorado Spanish teacher Bryce Hedstrom offers this summer reading program for his students. His students were actually enthusiastic when he handed out this list. Check it out!

Assessments – GET PDF .GET DOC
Does your district want to assess the language students with a standardized, non-textbook exam? Do you wonder if your students are performing appropriately? Don’t reinvent the wheel! This article tells you how to obtain the excellent New York exams. It also briefly discusses other language assessment tools.

The story of my career – GET PDF .GET DOC
The title tells it all. This article sums up my 33-year career as a foreign language teacher.

TPRS Testimonials – .GET DOC
A compilation of messages from the moreptrs list and testimonials that I have gathered. It is by no means exhaustive, but it includes 15 different reports of success. These are scattered from West Coast to East, elementary through high school, private and public schools. The testimonials refer to measurable, provable success (either standardized tests or enrollment figures.)

Understanding students with “Attitude” – GET IT .GET DOC
This is one of many brilliant messages written by Laurie Clarcq. It explains what is going on with those aggravating “attitude kids.”

Little League Analogy – .GET IT .GET DOC
In a wonderful message on the moretprs list, Mike Walker compared teaching with TPR Storytelling to coaching a little league team. He explains how what some perceive as a “teacher-centered” method is actually a proven way to get the best performance out of kids.

His French Comes out Greek – .GET DOC
I used to read this article at workshops I did from 1999- 2001. It is a humorous account of an effort to speak French by a typical American who was taught conjugation rather than communication. It perfectly illustrates the folly of “vertical” conjugation while making the case for “horizontal conjugation” as is done in a TPRS class.

Chris’s Banana Letter – .GET DOC
I often read this article in workshops. It is an email from my son about his reaction to seeing the people in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan peel a banana. I compare it to the discomfort we all feel when first confronted with a class taught using TPRS.

Textbook adoption – GET PDF
If your school district is considering textbook adoption, it is very important that you decide what are the most important criteria of a good textbook BEFORE actually looking at examination copies or listening to promotional speeches. This article is an example of what I would look for.

Student Teachers – GET PDF
Are you considering having a student teacher? Please do it! We need quality teachers to train more quality teachers! Read this article for a little advice before you embark on this adventure!