A Hearsay History of TPRS
No one seems to have written the history of TPRS, but there are stories that circulate, and people do say that anything is possible in TPRS.
Once upon a time there was a physical education teacher who spoke fluent Spanish. There was a school in Alaska that that needed a badminton coach, but Blaine Ray didn’t like badminton and he didn’t like snow. He liked golf, blue elephants and Hawaiian shirts. Blaine Ray had 3,427 Hawaiian shirts, but he couldn’t wear them in Alaska. No one else was looking for a physical education teacher, but there was a school in California that needed a Spanish teacher. Blaine Ray went to California on his yellow bicycle to teach Spanish.
Blaine thought his new students were a little bizarre. They were all squirrels and refused to sit in their chairs. Blaine gave them books, but his students ate the books. He gave them worksheets, but they ate the worksheets. Blaine Ray was very sad. His principal said, “Your students must sit in their chairs and they must speak Spanish.”
Blaine was very sad. He went to Stephen Krashen and asked, “How can I teach my squirrels to speak Spanish?”
Stephen Krashen said, “They will acquire Spanish if you give them Comprehensible Input.”
Blaine Ray went to James Asher and asked, “How can I give Comprehensible Input to my squirrels?”
James Asher said, “They will understand actions. Use TPR.”
Blaine Ray used TPR and his squirrels began to acquire Spanish. They could stand up and sit down and turn around. They liked to stand up and sit down and turn around. They stood up, turned arond and sat down 889 times. But they were squirrels. After a while they were bored and they were not speaking Spanish.
Blaine Ray was sad. He thought, everyone likes to listen to stories. I will tell them stories and they will sit in their seats and speak Spanish.
So Blaine Ray began telling stories. He told very bizarre stories about blue elephants and monkeys that talked. His squirrels liked the stories about blue elephants but they didn’t like the stories about talking monkeys. When the squirrels stopped listening and began to get out of their seats, Blaine began exaggerating. He told stories about 537 blue elephants that ran in a marathon. The squirrels listened.
One day Blaine was tired. He didn’t have any ideas for another bizarre story. So he asked the squirrels, “What do blue elephants eat?”
“Nuts!” cried the squirrels.
“Where do blue elephants live?” asked Blaine.
“In trees!” cried the squirrels.
So Blaine’s stories were bizarre and exaggerated and personalized. The squirrels loved his stories and stayed in their seats and one day Spanish started falling out of their mouths.