The second session I attended at Comprehensible Midwest 2017 in Ripon, Wisconsin was about using Non-fiction stories. Some critics of TPRS will say that the stories are silly and wonder when a student would need to talk about a pink elephant that goes to 3 different stores to look for pizza. Well, TPRS can be used to tell ANY story, fiction or not. This session was led by Jon Dicus who offered some creative strategies to incorporate real texts.
Some of my personal takeaways from Jon’s session:
- If you want to talk about a subject or real-life issue, find an infographic, chart, or graph. These can even be in English as your discussion of them will be in L2.
- Talk about the biography of a famous person. You can tell this person’s story in the typical TPRS style.
- Jon uses interesting photos to lead a photo-talk. Using NBC’s This Week in Pictures or the Atlantic’s Picture of the Day. He’ll prompt students to start with “Yo veo” to describe what they see in the photo. Only after the class has had a discussion (maybe a story emerges), then he will show the actual caption.
- You can also put a series of photos on a powerpoint slide; they should have something in common (a theme, perhaps) and use large numbers to label them (get to practice larger numbers at random) and describe a photo. Have students identify what photo is being described. Or working in groups, students can do this together.
- Non-fiction stories and texts do not need to be limited to your target culture, but anything that might interest or engage the students.
- Another way to get students to talk and discuss is to have students act out the roles of a person or a character and have them respond as that person. They can give that persons’ perspective.
- As you use a non-fiction text, continue to make connections to the students. How can you relate the material to the students to ask them questions (PQA)?
- Another strategy he does is a Special Person Interview and asks students to talk about a talent, a passion, and a favorite place. Their classmates then ask the questions, which you can even have the selected student prepare ahead of time.
Another source that I personally like is Martina Bex’s publication of El Mundo en Tus Manos which provides comprehensible text on real news stories. You can look through thousands of real authentic
You can view Jon’s full presentation here.