TPRS as the dominant paradigm

tprs going into a whole district is something I’ve seen recently on a listserv for fl teachers. Then two Spanish teachers needed, tprs-ready preferred. Also, there is a listserv for teachers teaching Chinese to English-speakers wherein most of the teachers use tprs.

More and more, I think my prediction that tprs may become the dominat paradigm in fl teaching is coming true, much sooner than I thought.

What does this portend? Certainly, as a method it has matured greatly in a very short time. The originator, Blaine Ray, is still giving workshops. Some of the earliest proponents are still around (sorry if I make you sound old, guys), posting to listservs, attending conferences and giving workshops. Yet here we are, with schools and even whole districts requesting that tprs be the method used to teach fl.

Ignoring the loud sound of the gnashing of teeth, we can say that those who insist that the only way to learn a fl is to be highly intelligent and analytical and be able to memorize and apply in an instant one to two thousand rules, are being run over by thousands of learners who actually use L2. I believe there are even fl teachers who are highly suspicious of students who try to use the language; after all, they haven’t got “their grammar” yet. It seems somehow a violation of the laws of nature, viz.: first you study for many years, then you claim to have forgotten everything, then you go live in the country where you learn L2, then your teacher claims credit for having “taught” you. tprs students appear to be using L2 while they are in class.

IF, big if, if parents begin noticing this and asking for a tprs-trained teacher, the organizational strength is there and in place for certification in order to maintain control over the quality and consistency of the method. Such a well-defined method would quickly become orthodoxy itself, giving rise to opposition not so much from traditionalists, who would surely maintain a strong place in more politically conservative districts, but from the born-and-bred nay-sayers who just have to oppose everything.

All this will be a healthy development. Any sane person should fear the rise of an orthodoxy, but at this point, despite some lapses into hysterical True Believer-hood, most tprs-ers are relaxed and lenient, having been themselves so often attacked by no-nothings.The real value will lie in the massive shift to language teaching that assumes competence in using the language, a far cry from the standard complaint that the students “just don’t know their grammar.”

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