Category Archives: Good Books

Reading FAQ by Frank Smith

Bryce Hedstrom recommended a list of books for me to read and this was on the list. Frank Smith is right up there with Krashen. Actually, he was there before Krashen. I had never heard of him, but I came to realize that he is no slouch — especially since he has his PhD from Harvard.

So what is this book? Basically it is a short book where he answers commonly asked questions that he gets at seminars. He keeps the answers to about a page or so, which is just right for teachers who probably don’t have time to read his larger, more comprehensive books. Some of the questions are: How do you define reading, What is the role of prediction in reading, How can you read a word you haven’t met before, Are some kinds of reading preferable to others, etc.

I really feel that this book is great introduction to reading research. If  you don’t have the time to go out there and do a full research summary on reading and language acquisition, this book is great resource to whet your appetite. We all know that there are way too many great books to read out there and most people want to know  the top 10 books. I would say that this is one that makes the top 10.

Check it out, you won’t regret it. Thanks Bryce!

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Fluency through TPR Storytelling by Blaine Ray & Contee Seely

This is basically the textbook on how to do TPRS. It is called the green book in many circles because it is the color green. Not much needs to be said about this book. It is a must have and full of so much vital information that it is an excellent resource.

As of 2008, there have been 5 editions. With this book, it is important to get the new editions because TPRS has changed so much over the years. It continues to evolve as it spreads and new helpful information continues to be established.

Definitely take a look at this! I look at it almost every day.

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How to win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

I was reading the green book the other day, Fluency Through TPR Storytelling, and Blaine mentions a book that had a big impact on him. The book he mentioned was How to win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. At first glance I wasn’t so sure about the title, but I decided to check it out.

I went to the library and took a look and realized why it is such a great book. Although it is a well known classic on dealing with people, there was so much more to it. I began to see how it affected Blaine and his storytelling. Not only does it offer a lot of good tips for dealing with people, but if applied to storytelling it has great potential.

Discovering the different pieces of TPRS has really allowed me to see how deceivingly complex it really is. On the surface it is really easy, but just like anything else, if you want to become great it requires a lot of dedication and development. For many teachers, it takes years to develop these skills.

One such skill is the idea of doing TPR really well. Without doing this, I never would have gotten a feeling for spinning new vocabulary in while reviewing old vocabulary. It is the framework of the feeling of circling, as well as adding details. Again, not something that is learned, but felt.

This book is full of ideas for good storytelling some of which are: not criticizing, genuinely making people feel important, being genuinely interested in people, realizing that people don’t care what you want — they care about what they want, the power of a real smile, just saying someone’s name is the sweetest sound to them, etc.

There are many more, but these are some starters. One idea that really caught my eye was the idea that people only care about what they want. This is so true in stories. The students don’t care about what the teacher likes, they only care about what they like. This needs to be juggled with the idea that “It’s my story”, but it is important for me to realize as a storyteller.

Anyway, a very good book to read! I plan to read it throughout my life.

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Foreign Language Education, The Easy Way

This is another great book by Krashen. When I first saw it, it make me think that the title was misleading. The Easy Way to me meant, teaching the easy way out. In other words not putting much effort into teaching. And perhaps there is some truth to this if you teach the way the book presents.

The Easy Way simply means, to me, teaching FL through letting the students read and acquire the language themselves, rather than direct instruction. When this is done it is a lot easier and more enjoyable for both the students and the teacher.

I read the reviews that this book is a must for FL teachers and I have to agree. It helped me to identify the purpose for each level of FL. It also opened my mind to the power that reading can have in learning a language. Again, it is filled with a lot research and studies, which is great! It is a short 55 pages and, although it is not a novel, it can be read and absorbed very quickly. Most importantly it helped me to reflect more about teaching Spanish.

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The Power of Reading

This is a great book on the effect that reading can have on learning languages. Just reading it made me want to read more. It is by Krashen and contains a lot of research that points toward the benefits of reading as well as some ideas for how to implement more reading into the class.

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