The first Japanese TPRS lesson with my tutor

I remember when I was first learning about TPRS, it took me a while to wrap my head around all of it. I’ll admit, it ain’t easy. You just kinda gotta get your feet wet and do it. Teaching someone else to teach with TPRS is a different animal all together.
Strawberry Cake in Japan
Much to my tutor’s credit, she did lots of personalized questions when we started our lesson. We greeted each other and got right into it (since I was running a little late.) It was mostly for grammar practice. It was definitely one of those communicative approach ways and my attention was weaving in and out. So after she was done with that, she asked me what we should do. And then I told her about story making.

When I tried to explain it to my tutor it took her a while to pick up on it. It was hard for her to think up of things off the top of her head and was a bit unnatural to circle for her, because she wanted to just go onto the next statement.

It’s just so different from sitting down and teaching out of a textbook with exercises. That’s the easy way! Not checking for comprehension is easy. Story telling is a skill. Story asking is a greater skill, because you don’t know what’s gonna come next.

So eventually I said. “I’m sorry, let’s just start out with some words and make a story around that.” My tutor is awesome for having a lot of patience. This is so different for her. Most of her students are Koreans who are studying to take the JLPT and some just for fun touristy interest. I’m the American coming to her with all of these unconventional ideas.

Here’s the wordlist that we came up with to use for our story:

はしる — to run
あそうぶ – to play
たびる - to eat
つかまえる to catch (an animal)

おとこのこ – boy
おかあさん – mother
ねこ – cat
アヒル – duck
はさみ – scissors
ライバル -rival

The bold words are the ones I wasn’t familiar with before.

I started out telling the story with the words. My tutor would correct me or find better ways to say the sentence. I know, it’s not as perfect as her asking the story, but I still got comprehensible input, none the less. We were also rushing for time at the end, since it took so long to explain.

Here’s the story she wrote down for me at the end:


Gaaah, that bold word that she wrote at the end I didn’t know. But she didn’t know that. How could she know that? I didn’t have time to read through it before we left.

Here’s my rough translation of the story:

“A long long time ago, there was a boy who was not fast but liked to run. One day, his mother said to the boy “I want to eat duck, so go catch it and bring it back.” But, there is a problem. The duck is a faster runner than the boy. But, the boy went with the duck’s rival, the cat. “

Anyways I think for a first time, it worked out pretty well.

I can tell that my extensive reading really helped me in making this story. Even though it’s been a while since I’ve done any reading in Japanese. I gotta make extensive reading a daily thing.

I could turn this into an extensive reading blog/ TPRS lesson blog. But it’s my blog, so let’s just keep this post in it’s own category.

Next time we’ll add details to the story and see how it ends. That’s why I love this teaching approach. Once you build the initial story, it’s easy to add details and learn more grammar and vocabulary at the same time.

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