Tell to teach

Tell to teach

Back in 2003, when I first started teaching Spanish at Summerfield Waldorf School and Farm in California, I felt lost. The traditional methods of teaching made no sense to me, especially since I was a trained Waldorf teacher. Rudolf Steiner, Austrian philosopher and founder of Waldorf education in 1919, did not give many indications regarding how to teach foreign languages.

Throughout the years, many teachers have contributed to making foreign language teaching in our schools an experience closer to how we learn our mother tongue.

This approach worked well in the lower grades, where they are still pre-literate in foreign languages. However, I felt that the older students needed a different kind of work in order to enhance their language acquisition. I tried many different techniques and ideas, until one day I was introduced to TPRS, an acronym for Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling.

TPRS was first developed by Blaine Ray in the 1990’s and since that time it has evolved through the contributions and research of an incredibly large, professional, and dedicated community of teachers. I have been amazed by the similarity of its core principles with the basic ideas that Rudolf Steiner brought with Waldorf Education: learning should involve physical movement and the feeling life of the child, not only the intellect. These theories about learning have recently been confirmed by modern brain research.

In my excitement, I found that the best way to use these techniques in a Waldorf setting was to create my own curriculum, and that is how my book, Tell to Teach, was born.

The book gives a small window into the Waldorf methods for the teaching of foreign languages, followed by the principles of the TPRS techniques and a comparison of both.

Next I set to work for the creation of a fourth grade curriculum because that is the time we start with the formal use of writing in our foreign language lessons. The book includes a step-by-step guide on how to develop your own curriculum based on your particular goals, as well as a sample of the whole sequence I followed in creating mine.

I added many of the short stories we created in class, and they are included as templates for teachers to copy and use freely, as well as examples of my students’ work. Especially impressive are the stories that they wrote by themselves, even after months of not being in my class anymore.