I got this from a high school colleague the other day. She had just started TPRS last year, got really good at it. But then:

 I am wandering around lost in level 2.  I knew what to do with beginners, more or less. I just don’t know where to go from here with this class.  I can’t picture us doing the old ask a story, read a story sequence over and over again for the rest of the year.   It’s hard to describe how frustrated and elated I am by that class, simultaneously sometimes.  One group is begging for output, so I’m going to throw something at them that enables them to talk quite a bit extemporaneously. I have to acquiesce to their emotional need to produce some language and feel that sense of accomplishment.  

I responded: 

There is no doubt in my mind that the much-discussed output question is always exactly that – too discussed. I feel that if the kids like it and it makes them feel good, do it, as long as it is natural and not forced. It’s not even an issue for me.

Then she said:

I can’t shake the feeling that I don’t really know what I’m doing.

I responded:

Me too.

Next, she said: 

I have a million 2nd year questions: what to do about accuracy in writing, for example. Do you still let them just cut loose and not worry about accuracy? How can you do otherwise if you’re trying to do the Pure Land most days?

I said:

Do the minimum and yes, don’t worry about accuracy. Stop trying to figure out TPRS with your mind. Classes don’t flow in the mind! Think of Willie Nelson’s voice.  Did he try to get that?  No, it was a natural gift.   Enjoy your own natural gift of pure relaxation and enjoyment of the kids and the method. Try it. Try relaxing one day. Tomorrow. You want the Pure Land.  But reread your sentence: “…trying to do the Pure Land”.  The Pure Land cannot be tried for.  If it is tried for, it can never be reached.   We get closer to the Pure Land when teach from our slow heartbeat side.  It is like committing suicide on your teacher self, the one that wants control over everything. Just ask the kids the questions and back down with all the energy. I  am calling the kettle black here. I am actively trying to learn these days how to get into slow heartbeat class management style, the style that is a ticket to the Pure Land.   

She also wrote: 

Should I stop and teach some grammar, just to satisfy myself that I have, so that I can refer to it when they make mistakes? Along the lines of, “I taught you that rule 3 months ago, now I get to mark it wrong when you make a mistake?” The whole thing is so absurd.  

I said:

The kids don’t need grammar to speak the language. Grammar is not of the heart. But P and CI are of the heart.  P and CI.  Do them.

Then she added:

It feels wildly irresponsible to just play on and not DO anything about mistakes! 

My response: 

If you want to correct mistakes, give dictées and they will learn to write.  Only dictées.  I have described in detail the form in TPRS in a Year! THAT is all you need for writing. 


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