I am super excited to finally have my Indonesian Word Wall up in TPT! This list has been lovingly created based on Ben Slavic‘s Wordlist found in his books. About a year ago I found Ben’s website and got super excited about TPRS. TPRS or TPR Storytelling, was invented by Blain Ray, and has various manifestations, but basically, it involves teaching a foreign language through personalised story telling. The students are involved (in various degrees in each method) in creating the story with the teacher. It has to be personal to the students, keeping them engaged, involved and comprehending the language being taught. It aims to be comprehensible by using mostly what the students already know and adding in a few new ‘structures’ (phrases or words). These structures are taught before the story using ‘circling’ (Circling is a massive part of TPRS – learn more here from the experts) in which the phrase is repeated numerous times by asking the kids many similar questions -” The girl is running. Is the girl running? yes Is the girl walking? no. Is the girl running or walking? Running.” and so on through a great process of questioning. There are many skills a TPRS teacher needs to learn, all that are quite simple and straightforward, but there are many, and they all work together to become good TPRS.
I purchased 4 of Ben Slavic’s books and read them all back to front numerous times. I was convinced that he had so many great ideas, tips and ways of teaching a foreign language. His ideas are tailored to high schoolers, and he gets some of the best high school French marks for his students in American Education system. He has a whole book about Comprehensible Input (CI) strategies. However his strategies would work in a primary school classroom too, but I think they would work best in grade 3-6. I say this for a couple of reasons. Ben, even with high schoolers, spend the first 3-6 months just developing vocabulary and ‘word chunks’. He plays games and has a whole list of activities that turn learning vocab into a fun and worthwhile activity. He has strategies for making kids connect with the words and have meaningful encounters, but he doesn’t use theme based vocab lists. He uses a word wall of specifically chosen words that he says his kids love, and help him develop these word games into full-fledged story creation. I was a bit hesitant about purchasing books from his website, as I had heard very little about him, but after reading them, I would highly recommend them to any foreign language teacher.
I worked really hard to get my word wall words together using his principles. I wanted great, fun words, that would come in handy when telling stories and adding interest to stories, but also some easy common terms to begin with. If you are starting TPRS Indonesian with grade 3-4 I would love you to have a look at my list. See how many of the words your students already know, and each week introduce another 2 or three. As you circle with them see if they morph into storytelling opportunities. I will be starting TPRS very soon, but I don’t want to rush into it. I want my kids to have a little base to work from so we can create really interesting stories. I want them to have words to choose from when supplying answers, and I want to be able to personalise the story by more than just famous characters and loan words.
Loan words seem to have a big place in Spanish teaching classrooms, (of which seem to be the most information about using TPRS) but I think we need to be actually teaching our students the language as well! Young kids have a great memory and can learn huge amounts of words when done in fun and engaging ways. Ben also uses heaps of posters around his room to help his students with comprehension. He says he will constantly stop and point to different words and structures on posters around the room, and wait for it to click with students, before continuing. So what better way to organise posters than in themed vocab! But that seems to be a bit anti-TPRS. But I am no expert.
There is another type or branch? of TPRS that is trademarked, that uses novels to teach a foreign language. Check out their website for more information about that. I haven’t read much of that as it seems heavily dependent on having graded novels written in the language, of which there are none for Indonesian. I have just started reading through Enid Blyton books that I found in Indonesian, and that has been a fun challenge, but maybe better suited for older high schoolers, which I don’t teach.
If you are interested in this method of teaching a Foreign language I would recommend you have to investigate the ‘Circling with balls’ technique. This is the other way Ben starts out his year. He has them write their name and something they like, on a card which they fold and put on their desk. He then chooses a student and speaks about that person liking that thing, circling and engaging that student (see his books and website for heaps more information). He also has them fill out a survey about themselves, that can be photocopied onto the other side. This gives him lots of ideas about what to talk about the student to the class. He learns a lot about his students and they get lots of personalised vocabulary and structures. They learn about who they are and what they are interested in. The great thing about the Australian National Curriculum for Indonesian is that half of what our students are supposed to learn in Grade 3 and 4, is factual information about themselves, their friends, family and lives. A perfect way to cover a whole chunk of the required curriculum!
I am still not 100% on the TPRS bandwagon, although I think it is a really great way to teach and learn Indonesian, I think many of its techniques can also be used in a more traditional teaching situation. I think a lot of it can fit nicely into the Australian National Curriculum, and I will experiment in bringing these techniques into my teaching.
I also have a group of Indonesian children next door who really want to improve their English, so maybe Ben Slavic’s version of TPRS would be perfect for when they come around to practice and play with my daughters on a Thursday afternoon!
Here is a blank .jpg I have used for my word wall so you can add your own words or create your own word wall. Just add it to a document and put some text boxes on top with the words you want.
Looks green on my screen… not sure why… It matches many of my other blue posters…
If you are teaching this method with students, there is an Australian Teachers ‘Indonesian TPRS’ facebook group, that will be way more help and support that I can be with TPRS!
Ben Slavic also has a private professional development community that cost US$5 a month.
(This is not a paid or sponsored post!!! I just realised that this totally looks like it could be! But it is not. I just want to give all the credit to Ben as these thoughts are not my own but taken from what I have learnt and read from his books. This is my interpretation of his work and writing and not endorsed by him! Apologies to him if this does not reflect what he actually teaches, but as I have said please check out his stuff if interested as I am not an expert!)