A New Page

by lclarcq on October 28th, 2015

filed under Uncategorized

Hello everyone,

Sorry that it has been so long since I last posted! It’s been a busy few months! I’ve added a new page to the Hearts for Teaching website that I wanted to tell you about. It is a page where I have specifically posted information that I shared at this year’s TCI Maine, New England and Beyond! conference. You can find that page here:

TCI Maine, New England and Beyond!

or…if you look at the top of this page, you will find it there!

I’ll try to add things from past Maine workshops sometime this winter.

Don’t forget to check above for additional TPRS and TCI trainings available !!

with love,

Reflections on FLENJ 15 by Piedad Gutierrez

by lclarcq on March 8th, 2015

filed under Acquisition, Archived Posts 2015, Encouragment, Musings, Sharing CI/TPRs, Uncategorized

From time to time I invite other teachers to write a guest post for this blog. There are so many dedicated, caring and brilliant people in the classroom that I would like to share with you. I met Piedad Gutierrez of New Jersey at an NTPRS National Conference in Las Vegas well over a decade ago and she has continued to be a wise friend and insightful colleague. She had so many things to say last weekend at the conference in NJ that I offered her a venue here. I’m so happy to be able to share her thoughts!! When you are finished, check out her website at TPRS Of New Jersey. with love, Laurie

From Piedad:

Something really good is happening in NJ. When the state world language teachers conference invites Dr, Steven Krashen as his keynote speaker, one of the day-long workshops is facilitated by Laurie Clarcq, and three of the one-hour workshops are presented by TCI and TPRS teachers, something really interesting is evident. There is a shift, a shift for the best.

Dr. Krashen said the obvious, what we already know he thinks: acquisition is different from learning. It is all about the story, the compelling desire to know about something. It is never about learning the language. However he said something I have not heard that clearly before, the vocabulary and the grammar come within the narrative. May be we do not need to pre-teach the vocabulary nor we need to explain the grammar. It is all about meaning, not rules. We read, listen to, and watch stories; therefore those should be our means of communication. All those eclectic activities, all those boring dittos and cloze activities should be replaced with the stories, the narratives, the legends, the comics, the videos, the poems, the songs. The language is just a tool, not the subject.

The subject is the audience. The students are the subjects of our classes. We teach them, not the books. If we focus in what drives our students’ interest, we win. With or without a curriculum, topics or themes, a list of words, a sequence of structures; as long as we are able to identify what our students care for, we can conduct classes that lead to acquiring the language.

Lauire Clarcq, a master TPRS teacher, shared that Embedded Reading strategy that she and Michele Whaley developed. Six hours were not enough to get closer to the brilliance and clarity of the techniques she developed with Michele. Story within story within story, like the Russian dolls. Keep the repetitions going while recycling known language and adding new information to the story. Keep the interest of the students by twisting just a little where the story is going. Magic! Step by step, Laurie guided us, explained to us how reading sentences is different from reading paragraphs, used cognates, embellished and enriched the story and kept it simple and funny. Ah! Humor and compassion, Laurie’s middle names.

Less is more goes not only for lesson planning, it goes also for presenting. When you have only one hour to convey a message, it is very difficult to select what to say and how to explain to an audience of teachers eager to learn new tricks. That would be my only concern. TCI and TPRS are not collections of activities, the narrative is the activity. Asking the story, the movie, the poem, the song IS the activity. The authentic communication developed between the teacher and the students, is core of CI. The students comprehend what the teacher is presenting and the teacher comprehends what the students are interested in. There is no need for pre, during, and post movie talk activities; the movie talk IS the activity! There is no need for pre, during, and post reading activities, the embedded reading IS the activity!

TPRS and CI are defined methods with clear steps to follow. The students get to know the routine; the students know when to listen and when to talk, when to write and when to read. You, the teacher train them.

Piedad Gutierrez
Educational and Bilingual Consultant

How to Circle Like a Champion

by lclarcq on January 23rd, 2015

filed under Uncategorized

I’m sending a big thank you out to Chris Stolz tonight! Chris borrowed something that I had written on Ben Slavic’s blog and posted it on his blog: TPRS Questions and Answers

Then he gave me permission to post on my blog what he borrowed that I posted on Ben’s blog. :o) Thanks Chris!!

You can find that post here (and contrary to Chris’ opinion I am not a goddess lol)!!

with love,

Kindness: Why It Matters At The High School

by lclarcq on January 17th, 2015

filed under Archived Posts 2015, Encouragment, Relationships, Uncategorized

It isn’t easy to be kind at the high school. It isn’t at all cool. (and it doesn’t matter how old you are….) Nice people are perceived as stupid, or weak. These are things to be avoided at all costs.

At the high school, the operative word is tough. Tough is smart, tough is strong. These are things to be achieved and admired for.

Tough appears to be the overall winner. Tough attitudes, tough faces. Tough courses, tough tests. Tough teams, tough practices. Tough kids, tough teachers. No question,tough prevails.

Why even try?

Because Tough APPEARS to be the overall winner. Tough attitudes, tough faces. Tough courses, tough tests. Tough teams, tough practices. Tough kids, tough teachers. No question,tough prevails….on the surface. But underneath, BECAUSE tough prevails, kindess really matters. It’s desperately needed as a matter of fact.

You wouldn’t know that by teen behavior, but it is.

If you’ve ever parented a toddler, it is a little easier to understand. From the age of one to four years old, childen live in these adorable little teflon-coated cocoons. Nearly everything we say bounces right off of them. We don’t expect REALLY expect toddlers to say please and thank you. We don’t expect toddlers to be patient. We don’t expect toddlers to be responsible. Yet…we spend several years “pleasing and thank-youing” to them anyway. Even though…..we will see them throw tantrums, refuse to share, make faces, pick at their food, throw things and a number of other challenging behaviors. It is as if they do not hear a word we say. FOR SEVERAL YEARS! But we keep on trying anyway. That is what parents do. When children emerge from their “toddler-armor”, they have actually absorbed many of the behaviors we have been raining down on them since before potty-training.

I’ve often felt that toddlers and teens have a lot in common. Obsession with potty talk and bodily functions for one. Then there are the passionately emotional/stubbornly indifferent twin sides to their personalities. Both groups have moments when they are completely committed to doing things independently, even when it is impossible or riduculous to do so. AND this selective hearing issue occurs in teens just as virulently as it does in toddlers.

Then…at some point, a young adult emerges from this tought cocoon and it turns out that,yes indeed, they really had been listening all those years.

It is a rare, rare adolescent that is thankful for the kind people in his/her life. Some adolescents are too busy being focused on their struggles and miseries to be appreciative. Others don’t have the social skills to say thank you. Many would be just too embarrassed to try. But they do notice. And they remember.

True, it makes being kind a very thankless job (pun clearly intended!) So, if as human beings, we are being kind so that others will appreciate us, we may be disappointed. But, if we are kind because kindness speaks to how we want to affect the world, rather than how much we would like to be appreciated, being kind isn’t all that difficult to achieve.

Being kind opens the door for choices. It says, I can make decisions, I can be in control of my responses. It shows my students that…and it shows me that. On the days that I am worn out, feeling low, frustrated and grumpy, the choice to be kind is reassuring to me.

Being kind opens the door for additional kindness. It clears a space for the positive. It makes more good things possible. We all could use a little more of that.

Being kind feels better, physically and emotionally. Life is too short, illness too prevalent and pain too powerful to not open up a door that makes us feel healthy and strong.

Being kind communicates hope. Where there is hope, there can be change. When there can be change great things happen. I vote for hope.

It’s true that things at the high school level can get a bit more serious. If we are going to get serious, why not get serious about something as far-reaching, and life-saving, as kindness?

with love,

All content of this website © Hearts For Teaching 2009-present and/or original authors. Unauthorized use or distribution of materials without express and written consent of the owners/authors is strictly prohibited. Examples and links may be used as long as clear and direct reference to the site and original authors is clearly established

In other words….

by lclarcq on January 13th, 2015

filed under Uncategorized

kind change world

I had some things that I thought about saying today. Then my friend Janet posted this on Facebook:


and I had to share.

What a message. In the community of language teachers that I work with, we often say “Pause and Point” when we want teachers to slow down and direct the students’ attention to the meaning of a word or phrase.

This is “Pause and Picture”. Slow down and look for the meaning. I love it.

Thank you Hands-Free Mama (and Janet!)

with love,

All content of this website © Hearts For Teaching 2009-present and/or original authors. Unauthorized use or distribution of materials without express and written consent of the owners/authors is strictly prohibited. Examples and links may be used as long as clear and direct reference to the site and original authors is clearly established.

Je suis Charlie

by lclarcq on January 7th, 2015

filed under Uncategorized

je suis charlie

Je suis Charlie

Do You Use TPRS? Yes, as a matter of fact, I do.

by lclarcq on January 4th, 2015

filed under Archived Posts 2015, Curriculum and Planning, Sharing CI/TPRs, Teacher Training, TPRS techniques, Uncategorized

Larry Ferlazzo is a high school teacher in California who hosts a very active and informative education blog. Larry asked the question: Do You Use TPR Storytelling In Teaching ESL/EFL?

so I answered. :o)

I’m sharing here so that you can see where my education journey has been. Please stay tuned to Larry for more interesting posts and questions!

Dear Larry,

I have used TPRS in a variety of classroom situations. Some might see me as a high school Spanish teacher. I have been seen that way for over 32 years. However, I see myself as a person who helps students to learn about and navigate life using the Spanish language. (or if I am teaching English to local farmworkers..English) TPRS (Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling) has been my primary approach to teaching for over 15 years.
I know that working through of lens of teaching via TPRS® has allowed me to improve my interactions with students on a daily basis, thereby increasing their abilities to comprehend and communicate in the language.

How? There is a more detailed explanation below, however, here is basically what is happening:

A. The teacher interacts (as a role model and guide) with students on a topic that students are connected to.

B. The teacher’s job is to structure the interaction so that students will acquire new language, successfully contribute to the interaction, feel valued, and ultimately have a high level of comprehension of the material.

C. The teacher believes that LANGUAGES ARE ACQUIRED through comprehensible input rather than “learned” through lessons. Because the human brain has a natural ability to understand and to develop language, teachers should make classroom conditions as ideal as possible for acquisition to occur.

On the surface, there are three “basic” elements to TPRS :

1. Introduce any new language in context.
2. Interact verbally with students using the new language in context so that all language communication is completely comprehensible.
3. Incorporate the new language into a literacy-based activity.

Below the surface are multiple layers of understanding, interpreting and integrating:

1. The unconscious and conscious functions of the brain in the area of language acquisition.
2. How a student’s emotional state affects interaction, attitude and memory.
3. How a student’s levels of social, emotional, physical and cognitive development affect nearly everything.
4. The value of relationships in any setting, particularly educational.
5. The relationship between emotion and language.
And much more…

Keeping these layers of knowledge in mind, TPRS teachers plan lessons using one or more of the steps and deliberately incorporate any number of specific teaching skills that most stellar teachers incorporate. It is not a big mystery; it’s simply good teaching.
Skills such as:
1. Eye contact
2. Appropriate pacing
3. Checking for comprehension
4. Constant interaction with students as a means of formative assessment
5. High-quality questioning strategies
6. Repeating, reusing and recycling information and skills
7. Asking for and encouraging responses that use higher-order thinking
8. Creating situations where students interact with each other
9. Connecting curriculum with the interests and needs of the students
10. Personalizing and differentiating instruction

I believe that TPRS is less about “learning a language” and more about Life’s natural growth processes in the classroom, for the teacher and the students. I have been involved with the training, coaching and mentoring of teachers for over 20 years. The knowledge and skills that I work to develop as a TPRS® teacher help me to work with teachers of all disciplines.

True TPRS instruction is about knowing what is going on below the surface, not just planning what activities are occurring on the surface.

Good TPRS training is ongoing. No one incorporates TPRS well after a two hour presentation, just as no one becomes a good teacher after one Intro to Education course. Each teacher using TPRS® will come to the concept, acquire the knowledge, and work on the skills in his or her own way and time.

TPRS teaching is about being part of the educational community. TPRS was originally developed by classroom teachers and shared by classroom teachers. It continues to evolve through the contributions of classroom teachers. TPRS® belong to coaching groups, listservs, Facebook groups, Twitter, wikispaces and more. They write numerous blogs, host websites and continually invite teachers into their classrooms to observe and to give feedback.

Every teacher using TPRS has his/her own challenges. In an ELL/ESL classroom there is often not one native language to rely on for comprehension checks so additional teacher skills are required. Languages that do not use the same alphabet as English have different approaches to incorporating literacy in order to address that challenge. Some languages rely heavily on cognates in early instruction, while others, such as Chinese, cannot. The more that we communicate with each other, the more we help each other address our challenges.

Despite the variety of challenges, certain things remain constant:
1. Clearly comprehensible language in context
2. Scaffolded student interaction
3. Oral/aural confidence tied to literacy-based activities
4. Positive classroom relationships
5. Continued growth and development for teacher and students

Thank you for asking for input. We believe strongly in what we do. We see it change the lives of teachers and students every single day.

With love
Laurie Clarcq

All content of this website © Hearts For Teaching 2009-present and/or original authors. Unauthorized use or distribution of materials without express and written consent of the owners/authors is strictly prohibited. Examples and links may be used as long as clear and direct reference to the site and original authors is clearly established.

Where are the comments?!

by lclarcq on December 22nd, 2014

filed under Uncategorized

Thank you everyone for your patience as we work on transferring information to its new location. One of our new issues is the disappearance of your ability to make and read comments. We’re working on it! If you want to make a comment, please send an email to lclarcq@yahoo.com until we get this resolved. Thank you!

Trustbuster #2 Archived Post 8.11.10

by lclarcq on November 30th, 2014

filed under Uncategorized

(Originally posted 8/11/10)

This is a tough one. Nearly every teacher I know SWEARS that they don’t have favorites. And nearly every teacher I know has them…..and the kids know it. Kids are not only perceptive, they are smart. They not only observe, they watch, and they see.

Which students are our favorites?

The students that make us feel like good teachers. (they do the homework, ace the tests, produce amazing projects, sit in the front row….you get the idea.)

The students that think like we do. (they like the same sports, the same teams, the same t.v. shows, the same jokes, the same colors…..you get the idea.)The students that suck up. (they notice when we get a haircut, offer to get papers from the office, answer the phone, pick up books…whatever makes our lives just a little bit easier)

The students that like us. (they laugh at our jokes, say hi in the hall, wish us happy birthday, tell their parents they like our class…whatever makes our lives just a little more pleasant)

The kids don’t mind so much that we HAVE favorites. That is life. They get that. What they mind is when we PLAY favorites. When we show by our actions and our words that some students matter more than others. It may be natural, and it may be human, but it is (although I put it #2 on the list) the number one way to alienate students and destroy any chance of building strong relationships in the classroom.

When we have “relaxed” conversations before class with the kids we “like” and not with everyone….we are playing favorites.

When we allow some kids to “get away with” smart remarks, sarcasm, eye-rolling etc…but reprimand others for putting their heads down or using headphones….we are playing favorites.

When we go to football games and don’t go to see the musical….we are playing favorites.

When we have a participation point system that rewards the hand-raisers….we are playing favorites.When some students are allowed to come in late without a pass and others are not…we are playing favorites.

When we only get physically near some students when they are disrupting class…we are playing favorites.

When we allow students who are “unpopular” to hide in the back corner of the room….we are playing favorites.

When we reward our friendly students with smiles and wait for our quieter students to smile first…we are playing favorites.

The best way to see how teachers play favorites is to watch another teacher teach. You will notice it as easily as the students do when you are on ‘the other side of the desk.” The best way to see if you play favorites is to videotape yourself and watch…..your tone of voice, your facial expression, your body movements will tell you a great deal.

We all have students who warm the cockles of our heart…kids we would adopt in a heartbeat or let date our daughters. We also have students who, if truth be told, make us grit our teeth or make our hair stand on end. If we work hard, our students will never know the difference. It might actually be the hardest part of the job…it might also be the most important.

With love,

All content of this website © Hearts For Teaching 2009-present and/or original authors. Unauthorized use or distribution of materials without express and written consent of the owners/authors is strictly prohibited. Examples and links may be used as long as clear and direct reference to the site and original authors is clearly established.

Where are the old posts?

by lclarcq on July 30th, 2014

filed under Uncategorized

Well…..we are working on having the archives moved.  This could take a few days.  Please be patient with us!!

with love,