Circling…the heart of TPRS

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Circling is a basic technique or skill of TPRS®. It always looks easier than it really is when one watches masterful storytellers. Circling is a way to make a statement repetitive by asking repetitive questions. Circling involves just one statement. Circling always starts with a statement.

Questioning during stories serves two purposes: A) working on comprehension and processing speed via repetitive statements and questions, or B) developing storyline (or some combination of the two).

As students process language faster, we are able to dedicate more class time to developing storyline and less on repetitive questions. Personalized Questions and Answers can serve much of the same purposes but PQA is also often used to find out information about students.

A Circling template would include the following:

  1. Start with a positive statement.
  2. Ask a question that demands a “yes” answer.
  3. Ask an either/or question.
  4. Ask a question that requires a “no” answer.
  5. Restate the negative and then restate the positive.
  6. Ask questions with who, what, where, when, etc.
  7. Restate the sentence.

In circling there are many skills and layers. For example:

  1. Whenever possible, we say back the entire answer. We get used to repeating the statements to the students so they can hear them again.
  2. We can use gesture to aide comprehension and processing.
  3. We don’t follow the predictable order. Even though there are templates for circling, we don’t want anything in TPRS® to be predictable.
  4. You can create a parallel sentence about a student or imaginary character. The boy plays the guitar. The girl sings well. Now you have two positive statements. You can circle both statements at the same time and I like to incorporate props whenever I can.

PDFs for your classroom:

Spanish question posters

French question posters

German question words


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  • Thanks for the question posters! Really nice. DANKE. Also, thanks for the brush-up on circling. I think I’m getting pretty good at it, but it’s nice to get some reminders too. Amy

    Amy 1 year ago Reply

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