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What is TPRS?

TPRS is a method to teach foreign languages. With TPRS the student will speak, understand, read and write the new language quite soon. This will give the student an esperience of success.

From the very beginning the students are motivated to answer questions that are asked in the target language. Those questions are not only understood, but the student is also able to answer them in the new language.

TPRS starts from the idea that you can't learn words if you don't know what they mean. Therefor the teacher will always use words that are already known. New words will be written on the blackboard with the meaning next to them.

Every lesson has a target of 3 or 4 constructions that have to be learned. A construction is a word or a group of words that in its entirety gives meaning. At the end of the lesson, the students can understand those constructions and they are able to use them.

The expansion of the vocabulary won't go fast, but it will grow. Old constructions keep coming back regularly so they will not be forgotten.

The three fases of TPRS

TPRS has three fases:

  • give meaning
  • ask the story
  • reading

If the teacher gives meaning, he or she will translate the new constructions. Furthermore the students get familiar with the new structures answering questions asked by the teacher. In this way they won't have any problem as the structures appear in the story to be asked, the 2nd step of TPRS.

Asking a story, the teacher builds a story together with the students. About every new element of the story the teacher asks questions in the target language. The students have to answer in the same language.

In order to remember the new constructions, after asking the story, the students will read texts that contain the same structures in a different context. Next to the new structures there are the ones that have been learned in earlier lessons. In the film beneath this text you'll see an example of the three fases of TPRS.


With TPRS grammar is not taught with rules. The teacher point at a certain issue, and gives an explanation. Example:

Parlo         con    Mario.

I speak      to      Mario.

The teacher points during the lesson several times at the o in parlo and explanes that you can see by the o that there's an I who is talking. After having done this three, four times, the teacher points again at the o in parlo and asks: "What tells the o to us?" The students have to answer that it is an I who is talking. First the teacher only asks this question with parlo, but later also with other verbs of which the speaker is an I

So there is no use of difficult grammatical terminology like: first person singular. The answer is simply: it's an I who is talking (in this case).

Asking these questions that take only a few seconds, grammar is taught without any grammar rule. 

The three conditions to learn a foreign language

The core of TPRS consists of three things. The input the teacher gives to the students must fulfil three conditions. It has to be

  • comprehensible
  • interesting
  • repeated

All language that is used in the classroom has to be comprehensible, interesting and it has to be repeated very often in order to learn it. Watch in the film beneath how children get comprehensible input.


One of the most important exercises to learn a new language is to read in that language. The texts to read must however fulfil the condition that 90% of the text consists in comprehensibile words. Otherwise reading is more frustrating than useful to learn something from it.

In the TPRS class you read a lot but the texts you'll have to read will be comprehensible and interesting with 90% of known words.

Beneath you find a film about reading in the classroom. In this film there are also examples of grammatical questions that are asked. 

More information

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