There seems to be a lot of TPRS teachers who have to defend what they do. In some ways, every teacher is accountable for what they do and should be ready to give a well grounded answer at any time. What concerns me is that the teachers who are really teaching, or rather at least trying to teach, are the ones who have to defend themselves.
I find myself asking the question, “What about the naysayers?” If they are going to criticize TPRS, then they need to defend what they do as teachers, too. What are they doing that leads to fluency in the classroom? Some toolbox teachers even say that fluency is impossible in the classroom. Where is their research? Is it valid? Can the students communicate?
TPRS has been scrutinized so much and I have no idea why. Is it because people in education do not like to change? Is it because people are prideful and do not want to change what they have built their professional life on? I can admit that it would be hard to change. It would be hard to accept a new paradigm when one has spent the last 15-20 years in the old paradigm. Not to mention they probably learned the language in the old paradigm, which explains why they are still not fluent, speak like a gringo, and are nervous when they speak to natives.
All I have to do is look at guy like Ben Slavic. The man taught out of a book for 24 years. He didn’t teach at some rural school in the middle of nowhere. He taught at schools that pumped out AP students. Places that were at the pinacle of juvenile academia. He is a man who can fully appreciate the new paradigm because he will blatenly say that he wasted 24 years of his life. That was enough for me to realize that TPRS is worth it.
Not only that, but do you know how wonderful it is when you hear your students speak fluenty with an accent? It is music to a world language teacher’s ears. It is something that will eventually become the norm in public education, as long as we are progressing toward teaching language in a communicative way, rather than from an academic perspective.
When I look at all these factors, I find myself thinking that I do not have to defend what I do. I know that what I do is right and it directs students to acquire L2. If anyone really wants to know, than I would be happy to tell them about my experiences as well as some of the theory. But I am not going to be ashamed or feel weird for being a TPRS teacher. There is no valid reason to feel this way.
Perhaps these teachers are not really attacking TPRS. They are dealing with an insecurity that stems from their inability to cope with their results as teachers. Maybe the battle in TPRS has nothing to do with TPRS at all. It is possible that the battle to be won in TPRS is something that we cannot fight, but requires the inward deliverance of the old paradigm.