TPRS is a method of language teaching that uses the communicative method via 'story asking' to engage the student and get the student to learn language without conscious awareness of morphological structures. Blaine Ray is called the father of this method, and follows upon TPR (Total Physical Response), made famous by James Asher in the 1970's.
TPRS is based on Stephen Krashen's 'Comprehensible Input Hypothesis' nowadays called the "Compelling Input Hypothesis".
Compelling means that the input is so interesting you forget that it is in another language.
It means you are in a state of "flow" (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990). In flow, the concerns of
everyday life and even the sense of self disappear - our sense of time is altered and
nothing but the activity itself seems to matter. Flow occurs during reading when readers
are "lost in the book" (Nell, 1988) or in the "Reading Zone" (Atwell, 2007).
Compelling input appears to eliminate the need for motivation, a conscious desire to
improve. When you get compelling input, you acquire whether you are interested in
improving or not. [Stephen Krashen, The English Connection (KOTESOL)]
TPRS is a method designed to get foreign language learners into 'the flow.' TPRS is now about 15-20 years old. It is making inroads into language pedagogy in high schools and colleges. It has been refined and polished over the last 20 years. (Randall Buth, one of B-Greek's advisors, is a strong believer in this methodology, and whole-heartedly endorses this pedagogical technique.) Carol Gaab's article explains the basics of how and why TPRS works. Here are several quotes from her article:
TPRS instruction is laden with dozens of strategies that provide an
abundance repetition that is highly engaging and comprehensible, but
that is not obviously predictable or repetitious. This allows the teacher
to remain in the target language 95-98 percent of the time. The goal is
to scaffold language so that it remains completely comprehensible and
accessible to students, resulting in successful and relatively rapid
acquisition of the language. A constant flow of scaffolded input ensures
that students will understand every message and be able to respond
successfully, whether it is with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’, one word, or an
entire phrase or sentence. Input may take the form of graduated questions,
circling questions, personalized questions, cooperatively created
stories, mini-stories, short stories, fairy tales, sequences, songs,
poems, rhymes, chants and a wide variety of readings.
Note that TPRS does not focus on forms, grammar or vocabulary or paradigms. It focuses on meaning and structures (phrases). Here is another short quote from the article:
Most TPRS lessons are broken down into
learnable ‘chunks’ of language, typically no more than 3 Target
Language Structures (TLS) for every 60 to 90 minutes of instruction. A
TLS could be any word, phrase or sentence that naturally occurs in
written or spoken communication, and its complexity is dependent
upon the age and the level of the learner. For example, a beginning
kindergarten structure might be ‘Billy runs,’ or ‘the strong man,’ while a
beginning high school structure might be ‘the woman ran quickly’ or
‘the strong man wanted to cry.’ Regardless of the level, structures are
prioritized according to their frequency of use or their usefulness to the
learner and are generally organized in groups of three, according to
their relevance to a topic, discussion, story or subject.
This article is a great introduction to how TPRS can be a vehicle for teaching a second language. The 'catch' is that it requires a verbal communicative approach to teaching - not a grammar-translation approach where 95-98% of the class time is spoken in a language other than ancient Greek. The results of TPRS have been impressive in teaching modern languages like Spanish, English, French, German. Anyone who is interested in how TPRS works, should read Carol's article. Blaine Ray's book "Fluency through TPR Storytelling" (5th edition, 2008) http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=blaine+ray is an in-depth look at TPRS.
Those interested in learning or teaching ancient Greek from a living language approach need to read Carol Gaab's article.