Preparing for ap exams from Level 1 with tprs by Alison Eustice, Amy O’Connor and Karen Rowan, The Colorado Springs School



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Preparing for AP exams from Level 1 with TPRS

By Alison Eustice, Amy O’Connor and Karen Rowan, The Colorado Springs School


Foundations of the CSS foreign language program


Blaine Ray taught at Stockdale High School in Bakersfield, CA. The school district had four high schools. His TPRS program boasted more passing scores than the other three high schools combined. Several of the students passed the AP exam after only two years. His primary goal was to recruit and retain students. Although most AP teachers weed all but the best students out of their AP classes, Blaine wanted to create a methodology that would allow all students to take and pass the AP exam. Blaine Ray created Total Physical Response Storytelling in an effort to create a methodology that would begin preparing students for the AP Spanish Language exam from Level 1. He integrated portions of the exam, such as re-telling stories from pictures, 20-second responses and free writing, into the lowest levels of the program.

It has been four years since this methodology was first implemented at CSS. The sixth grade students who were first exposed to it in the fall of 2000 are now freshmen. Those students could take the AP exam as early as the spring of 2006.




Expectations of students on the AP foreign language exams


  1. Comprehend full-page reading passages and respond to multiple choice questions.

  2. Comprehend five continuous minutes of native speech and respond to multiple choice questions

  3. Tell a story from an unfamiliar illustration and speak for 20 seconds in response to five questions by a native speaker.

  4. Write a 200-word, five-paragraph, timed essay
  5. Accurately produce verb forms on a fill-in-the-blank exercise and answer multiple- choice questions on a grammar section.


  6. Demonstrate a broad range of vocabulary in each proficiency area above.

The rubrics for the writing and speaking section address ability to be understood by a native speaker, not grammatical accuracy. The grammar section accounts for less than 15% of the AP French exam and next year will be removed entirely from the AP Spanish exam.

The AP Spanish Literature exam asks for three analytical essays on the poems and books on the AP Literature list. Grammatical accuracy is not taken into account in the grading process.

The following is a break-down, by level, of what our students do to prepare for AP. In each level, numbers one through six correspond to the expectations listed previously.



Preparation of CSS students for the AP exam beginning in Level 1:

Level 1

  1. Read full-page reading selections / Four beginning novels (approximately forty pages each, 400-word vocabulary) (Steps 5 and 6)

  2. Listen to comprehensible input in class for at least thirty-five minutes each day in stories and questions (Steps 1, 2, 3 and 4)

  3. Tell stories from pictures / Student re-tell of stories (Step 7)

  4. Write 100-word, free-writing assignments in seven minutes and write a story for homework

  5. Pop-up grammar and pop-up meaning in every story / Invention stories / Changing perspective / Grammar songs / Advanced grammatical structures in stories
  6. Approximately 200 permanently-internalized vocabulary words through TPR and 200 through TPRS (6th- grade) / Approximately 700 permanently-internalized vocabulary words in Level 1/ Passive vocabulary acquisition through reading




Level 2


  1. Read full-page reading selections / Four intermediate novels (approximately sixty pages each, 800+ word vocabulary) (Steps 5 and 6)

  2. Listen to comprehensible input in class for at least thirty-five minutes each day in stories and questions (Steps 1, 2, 3 and 4)

  3. Tell stories from pictures / Student re-tell of stories (Step 7) / Twenty-second responses (Using describe, convince or explain)

  4. Write 100-word, free-writing assignments in six minutes and write a story for homework

  5. Pop-up grammar and pop-up meaning in every story / Invention stories / Changing perspective / Grammar songs / Advanced grammatical structures in stories

  6. Approximately 500 permanently-internalized active vocabulary words (not including various forms and tenses) / Passive vocabulary acquisition through reading

Level 3


  1. Read full-page reading selections / Three adolescent novels (approximately 100 pages+ each, standard vocabulary), selections from the AP Literature list (Steps 5 and 6)

  2. Listen to comprehensible input in class for at least thirty-five minutes each day in stories and questions (Steps 1, 2, 3 and 4)

  3. Tell stories from pictures / Student re-tell of stories (Step 7) / Twenty-second responses (Using describe, convince or explain)

  4. Write 100-word, free writing assignments in five minutes / Write essays and stories
  5. Pop-up grammar and pop-up meaning in every story / Invention stories / Changing perspective / Grammar songs


  6. Approximately 300 permanently-internalized active vocabulary words / Passive vocabulary acquisition through reading



Level 4


  1. Read full-page reading selections / Authentic novels, short stories, poems, Selections from the AP Literature list (Steps 5 and 6)

  2. Listen to comprehensible input in class for at least thirty-five minutes each day in stories, discussions and questions (Steps 1, 2, 3 and 4)

  3. Tell stories from pictures / Student re-tell of stories (Step 7) / twenty-second responses (Using describe, convince or explain)

  4. Write 100 word free writing assignments in five minutes / Write essays

  5. Pop-up grammar and pop-up meaning in every story / Invention stories / Changing perspective / Grammar songs /

  6. Approximately 300 permanently-internalized active vocabulary words / Passive vocabulary acquisition through reading



AP Language and Literature


  1. Read full-page reading selections / Selections from the AP literature list (Steps 5 and 6)

  2. Listen to comprehensible input in discussion and stories (Steps 3 and 4)

  3. Tell stories from pictures / Student discussion of stories (Step 7) / Twenty-second responses (Using describe, convince or explain)

  4. Write 100-word, free writing assignments in five minutes / Write AP practice essays
  5. Pop-up grammar and pop-up meaning in every story / Invention stories / Change perspective / Grammar songs / Direct grammar instruction and AP practice exercises /


  6. Active vocabulary acquisition from AP vocabulary list / Passive vocabulary acquisition through reading



Summary of preparation prior to an AP class

Preparation for the AP literature selections prior to the AP Literature class

Reading:


  1. Full-page reading selections

  2. Four beginning novels (approximately fifty pages each, 400-word vocabulary) (Steps 5 and 6)

  3. Four intermediate novels (approximately sixty pages each, 800+ word vocabulary) (Steps 5 and 6)

  4. Three adolescent novels (approximately 100 pages+ each, standard vocabulary) (Steps 5 and 6)

  5. Selections from the AP Literature list (Steps 5 and 6)


Preparation for the listening section of the AP Language exam prior to the AP class
Listening to:

  1. Listen to comprehensible input in class for at least thirty-five minutes each day in stories and questions (Steps 1, 2, 3 and 4)

  2. Level-appropriate books read aloud

  3. Songs



Preparation for the speaking section of the AP Language exam prior to the AP class

Listening to a correct pronunciation of:



  1. comprehensible input in class for at least thirty-five minutes each day in stories and questions (Steps 1, 2, 3 and 4)
  2. Level-appropriate books read aloud


  3. Songs

Speaking practice through:



  1. Telling stories from pictures

  2. Student re-tell of stories (Step 7)

  3. Twenty-second responses (Using describe, convince or explain)



Preparation for the writing section of the AP Language exam prior to the AP class:




  1. Write once a week each year until all students reach a fluency rate of 100 words in five minutes


  2. Write essays beginning in the second semester of Level 3

  3. Write the class story for homework


Preparation for grammatical accuracy on the AP Language exam prior to the AP class:





  1. Pop-up grammar and pop-up meaning in every story

  2. Invention stories

  3. Change perspective

  4. Grammar songs

  5. Advanced grammatical structures in stories



Preparation for vocabulary acquisition prior to the AP class:





        1. Approximately 200 permanently internalized vocabulary words through TPR

        2. Approximately 1,800 permanently internalized vocabulary words through TPRS

3. Approximately 10,000 words added to passive vocabulary

Alison Eustice 2004





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