What is TPRS and how can it help you to learn languages?

TPRS (Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling) is a language teaching method that uses storytelling, comprehensible input and reading to teach a language to students.

The most important part of TPRS is to create a story using 1-3 phrases, then ask and answer questions that are related to the story, and by doing so to make sure that the new vocabulary gets repeated multiple times during a class.

TPRS allows a student be more involved with the lesson compared to traditional teaching methods.

Watch the video below if you want to know about the story of TPRS.

The Story of TPRS and Blaine Ray

#The 3 steps of TPRS in a classroom

#Step 1: Establish meaning

In this step, the teacher introduces new phrases to the students. Normally the number of phrases is limited to 3 so that the teacher is able to repeat the selected phrases as many times as possible.

The phrases are written on a blackboard where the whole class can see them.

After that, the teacher starts asking the students questions using the selected phrases and the students will respond with short answers. This is done to make sure that the students fully understand the meaning of the new vocabulary.

#Step 2: Ask a story

In this step, the students hear the selected phrases in a context of a story. This story is going to be told in the language that is being learned. The story should be short and interesting, and also contain the selected phrases multiple times in the story.

Next, the teacher will start asking the students details about the story. The teacher usually only has a skeleton script for the story, and the rest of the details come from the students.

The role of the teacher is to help the students to contribute to the story.

#Step 3: Read and discuss

In the final step, the students read and translate the story that contains the phrases that were used in the previous steps.

Depending on the teaching method different types of reading can be used for this step, e.g. Class reading, Free voluntary reading, Shared reading or Homework reading.

#What makes TPRS a good language teaching method?

  • Students are exposed to interesting, meaningful, varied and comprehensible input.
  • The lessons do not focus on learning long vocabulary lists or grammar rules. Grammar is introduced in context and can be learned effortlessly through stories.
  • Both teacher and students are actively being part of the lesson.
  • Most of the time students will only be using the language that they are learning. Student's native language will usually only be used to clarify things.
  • Students are able to practice listening, speaking and reading during a lesson.

#How does TPRS look like when used in a classroom?

To get a better idea of how TPRS looks in a classroom setting, have a look at the video below. You can find plenty more videos on Youtube if you search for "tprs".

La ropa- A TPRS lesson

As you can see from the video, the class is highly interactive between the teacher and the students, and there is no studying from a textbook or grammar exercises.

#Examples of TPRS used outside of a classroom

TPRS is often used when teaching in a classroom, but it is definitely not limited to that. Many teachers use it as a basis for their online courses.

I have listed a few examples of great resources that use TPRS or are influenced by TPRS.

#Real Russian Club

Real Russian Club is a Russian language learning resource from Daria, a Russian language teacher.

She has created her own Podcast, Youtube channel, and premium courses all in Russian suitable for beginner and intermediate learners. Most of the content and lessons follow the TPRS format.

TypeVideos, Podcast, Stories
CostFree (Youtube videos, Podcast),
29$ - 69$ (Premium courses)

#Real Polish - 100 Daily Polish Stories

Real Polish is a language learning resource by a Polish man called Piotr.

When learning new languages Piotr was inspired by the same principles that are behind TPRS, so he decided to base his Polish teaching on the same things.

On his website, he is offering a free Podcast and premium courses to learn Polish. Beginner learners can purchase the "100 Daily Polish Stories" course.

CostFree (Podcast)
99€ single payment /
a subscription of 10€ per month (100 stories)

#LingQ - Mini stories

Steve Kauffman from LingQ was inspired by the mini stories offered by Real Polish, so he decided to hire a writer to write some mini stores that are being crowdsourced by LingQ members and other people interested in the project.

The project has received a lot of interest and there are already quite many community-contributed Mini stories available at LingQ. Have a look at the mini stories thread at LingQ forum for more info.

TypeMini stories
LanguageRussian, Swedish, Arabic, Korean,
German, Spanish, Italian, English...
(more languages are being added)
CostLingQ subscription 10$ per month

Published by

Krister Kari

Speaks (B1-C2): English, Finnish, Swedish, Spanish, German, Italian and Portuguese.
Currently learning: Russian and Dutch.

Hello my name is Krister and I'm here to help you to learn languages.

I'm a language learning enthusiast and a Programmer from Finland. I speak 7 languages with levels from B1 to C2. I have learned all of those languages on my own using my own methods.

In this blog I'm sharing tricks and tips to allow people to learn languages in a fun and efficient way.

Latest Posts