Thursday, March 14, 2013

TPRS Year 3 - My "No English" Rule - revisited

I was looking at some of my old posts from my first year and came across this entry.  In the entry, I am trying to come to terms with something I had read about "No English Rules."

Here's what I have done since last year in my new school, which has worked for the most part.
First off, allow me to explain that if you are a foreign language teacher and you don't do this, I am not saying that you are wrong.  I have found that some students need to be limited in their English only so that they don't distract us from learning Spanish.

I once had a student that after I asked, "What was there?" proceeded to answer and tell her own story in English before I could stop her.  Thus, taking away from the tension of asking a question and having the students relieve the tension with a sentence or two in the form of an answer or suggestion for the story.
I have a "two words or less in English" expectation that I teach from day 1 in my class.  All I do is I explain to my kids that if I ask them an open-ended question while we're going through class, that since the possibilities are endless, they can answer with anything (since everything is possible in my class), but if they have to use English, I will ask them to limit it to two words so we don't have to over translate and get lost in this long jumbled phrase we won't remember.  Instead, we can take two words and easily work with them and they can evolve and be practiced more.

When kids use more than two words of English, I simply show them a hand sign I made up for it and smile, while not acknowledging their answer and shrugging my shoulders.  They understand that it's simply part of the "game" of class and that I am not trying to make it personal.

Some might have a problem with this in their classes.  After starting my first year of TPRS, I remember that over halfway through the year I tried to implement this.  I wasn't consistent and it flopped.

So in the past two years, I simply taught it as a norm in my class from day one and my kids have responded wonderfully to it.  Sometimes they get a little frustrated because they have trouble with circumlocution.  But it's part of my class.  So they respect it.

I think the key to any expectation you have is consistency from day one.  There doesn't have to be a punishment or discipline all the time.  If I teach the kids that's what they have to do in my class to be successful, it can be as simple as that for most of them.

Please share your thoughts below on if you think this could work for your class or if it wouldn't work!


  1. I love this idea and I'm happy to read that you've found a method that works for you. I will definitely try this as I implement tprs for this first time next school year.

    1. Thanks! Best of luck in the coming year. Feel free to let me know if you have any questions as you try out TPRS. :-)

  2. How do you teach culture and history using Spanish only?

    1. Thanks for your question! You keep the language comprehensible. For example, I made a powerpoint about bullfighting and the running of the bulls, but I made sure it was in comprehensible Spanish for my students. My Spanish 2 students could understand more and more forms of the verbs while my Spanish 1 students understood it in much more basic language.

      The idea is, the more we can teach in the language, the better (provided it's understandable language).