Results of TPRS: Students speaking

For many years now I have kept testing data on the progress of my students.  My students either outperform or do as well as the nonTPRS classes in the same school. The data is based on traditional, multiple choice type tests that come from thematic units of a textbook. These items include collections of vocabulary lists and grammar concepts found in the textbook En Español. Nothing about the testing data helps me understand the results of student learning like seeing student writing our experiencing them use the target language like in these videos. Every year I want these results to improve but after 174 days of school this is very good work for beginning learners.

This is a collection of Spanish 1 students retelling stories from the entire year. I use a detailed rubric but the only things that students are focused on is speaking for approximately 2:00 minutes. These results ARE typical and should be expected when using large quantities of Comprehensible Immersion and storytelling.

Speaking prompts

Oral Exam Evaluation Sheet

Here are some ways we went from INput to OUTput.


The third TPRS novel that we engage students with is Piratas del Caribe y el mapa secreto. This student came in during lunch to say hello and then decided to go ahead and do a retell. I love that it was unplanned in that way. This is authentic and I think he did wonderfully with his retell! 



I love that this student has fun with the story. She is laughing and making up the story as she goes in a way. This particular story is the very first TPRS novel that we used this year.  Brandon Brown quiere un perro is a story that can be read very early on. We rad this is October and she is retelling mid May. Since this is an “easy” story many of my 170+ students retold it this year.



Pobre Ana is a story that we have been doing for years with level 1 students…it is a classic!  Ana has many commone teenage problems on her mind. She has problems with her friends and family and later goes on to see that the culture in Mexico is different but family life there is very comparale to her own. It was the second TPRS novel used this year. This student is speaking at a pretty good rate. (This particular student is also an amazing artist and is responsible for the Bucket of Blood comic strip on the blog).




I love that Amanda is speaking with such confidence and speed.  Many students were able to speak beyond the 2:00 requirement and I think this says a lot about how much language they have internalized.



This student decided to do an easy story from Quarter 1.  He does a nice job stretching the story and showing what he knows.  I like that he is able to narrate dialogue of the story in his own words. Throughout the year this student was always comfortabel takgn risks and pushing himself to use Spanish in fun and funny ways.



This year we wrapped things up with an assessment that included a story that we have been doing for years with other classes. Oktapodi is one of my favorite MovieTalk stories and I almost did not use it this year. I am glad I did because the writing results were phenomenal and spoken retells of this story were impressive. I used this story as part of an assessment strategy.  They only heard this story twice for a total of 40 minutes before having to do a long free writing exercise of 20 minutes. I wanted to see if students can take previously learned language and use it in creative ways to extensively communicate in Spanish.



The students were exposed to about 40 minutes of MovieTalk strategies with this particular animation.  It was a balance of present tense and past tense grammar. Almost all of the language of the story was recycling of prior structures and vocabulary.  I love this student’s attention to detail and the fact that he retells the story in the past with such accuracy! Many of the students were not able to stay in the past tense as well as this student could.  He worked really hard to make sure present tense didn’t interfer in his retell.



This is a story that we used with student actors, volleyball translation activity drawing activity, and a free write. It is a story from Bryan Kandel and the students had a lot of fun with the activities of the story and I loved using props and dramatizing it. An interesting thing about students retelling this story is that we only read it in the past but most felt comfortable retelling in the present tense.



Can students create their own stories based on what they have learned in a TPRS class?  Here is the evidence.  This student decided to not retell a class story and talk about something that is very important to her…her family. I can see how much she cares about her family when she talks about them!



It is exciting when students decide to generate their own stories.  Often times, in a level one course, it can be a risk for students to do this.  I think the risk pays off when they can speak with such confidence…I love the charisma of this student!







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  • thanks for sharing these videos. It’s great to see what other Level 1 students sound like. Would you mind sharing your rubric for this assessment?

    Iris Cortes 4 years ago Reply

    • Hi Iris.

      I sent the speaking prompt and rubric to your hotmail address. I have to say that even though the rubric is detailed, a lot of time is spent discussing with students that this should not be a story retell that is based on memorization. I want them to tell stories that they enjoyed and that they can retell easily. Even though some class time is given to students organizing their thoughts, as a teacher I take very little part in helping them edit. The basic formula that htye have in their heads is to speak for 2 minutes in order to earn an A. This works for these particular students because they are so concerned with their grades the majority of the time.

      I hope you find those documents helpful.


      Michael Coxon 4 years ago Reply

      • Amazing! May I have a copy of your rubric as well?

        Ruth Stin art 4 years ago Reply

  • Thanks for sharing these videos and the speaking prompts and rubric. I think I will show the PA and Piratas videos to my Spanish students, so they can realize what they themselves are able to do. (And to help them see that what I ask of them is not unreasonable!) I have only done 1 minute retells with my 100 students. How do you logistically test 170 students? Do they record themselves in your classroom and you watch them later? Speaking assessments are so important, but it is tough to get through all of them.

    Rita 4 years ago Reply

    • Logistically it is tough. Students are working on study guides and online practice while I am in the hallway doing this. It takes 2-3 days to complete this. I am the one recording these…if students don’t wnat to be recorded it is no problem. Parents sign a permission slip at the beginning of the school.

      Michael Coxon 4 years ago Reply

      • Do you grade while you record or do you go back and watch all the videos to assess with the rubric?

        Rita Barrett 4 years ago Reply

  • I love this. The best part is that I can see my students being able to do this! It’s working (my teaching, that is). Could I also have a copy of your rubric, please? Do you do any other assessments as a final? I decided not to this year, we’re doing stories until the end of the year.

    Thanks again,

    Megan Green 4 years ago Reply

    • I went back and included the rubric and prompts above!

      Michael Coxon 4 years ago Reply

  • I would love a copy of your rubric as well. Thanks for the inspiration!

    Sarah VIets 4 years ago Reply

    • If you click on what is in blue above it is a link to those documents.

      Michael Coxon 4 years ago Reply

  • Suggestions for a teacher interested in learning about TPR/TPRS? I’m a Spanish 1 teacher but my education training is in science education. I don’t have any formal training in language learning & am trying to get away from relying on the book.

    Kris Cooper 4 years ago Reply

    • I think the best way to see what it going on with TPRS is to attend a workshop where you can be a student learning a different language. Also in these workshops there is usually a component of practicing some basics of TPRS in small groups. In the workshops is where some of the ah-ha moments happen and I think they are invaluable to helping our students.

      I recommend starting with a workshop in your area with

      and eventually (this is the national conference each July)

      and I recommend iFLT conference which can be found at (which is a regional conference)

      Also there are several wonderful teachers that share their ideas and lessons through blogging. Feel free to message me with any questions I will be attending and presenting at both conferences this year.

      Michael Coxon 4 years ago Reply

  • Love what your students are able to do! This makes me very excited for starting TPRS/CI next year. Do students prepare these retells ahead of time? I see you have a document of the prompts. Are they given this in advance? How far in advance? Do students then write out what they are going to say and memorize it?

    Susie Shultz 4 years ago Reply

    • The students receive things like a rubric, speaking prompts, and have a 2-3 days notice for this assignment. It is a pretty fair process. I am not trying to “catch them” or be strict with this assignment. I want to find out what they can do after 170 days of receiving INPUT. They can write their retells for practice but I caution them against plain old memorization. Some students talk beyond 3 minutes and I want them to retell what they know not what they memorized the night before if that makes any sense?

      Michael Coxon 4 years ago Reply

  • Hola Michael,

    Enhorabuena por los resultados.
    Yo enseño inglés en España con TPRS.

    Me gustaría saber cuántas horas más o menos de clase de español han recibido los estudiantes que vemos en estos videos. Gracias.

    Ignacio Almandoz 4 years ago Reply

    • En esta colección los estudiantes están en el día 174 de 180. Son estudiantes de 14 años y son ejemplos del primer año. Hablan más tempranos y escriben más temprano pero espero hasta al final del año para una actividad así. Me gustaría ver ejemplos de tus estudiantes un día.

      Michael Coxon 4 years ago Reply

  • Wow! I initially thought that these were level 2 students so I am quite impressed. What type of retells did they do as formative assessments during the year? Do you have a copy of those rubrics as well?

    Marie Hoskins 4 years ago Reply

    • Hi Marie,

      There is a long list of formative assessments that are as simple as comprehension checks. The 2 things that I think lead to these results are 1) READING 2) occasional free writes.

      When I say reading I mean a variety of reading strategies like “read alouds,” embedded reading, TPRS novels, volleyball translation reading, and at home reading to parents.

      The free writing activities are a slow, delicate, and thoughtful way that allows students to interact with Spanish after a “flood of input.” I love watching them develop.

      I do speak to students and encourage them to speak to me in the target language. When they do GREAT….if they aren’t ready I will just keep waiting. That is the hardest part I think, to simply put your faith in teaching with comprehensible input with no weekly evidence of it working…waiting for the payoff at the end…

      The rubric I use for writing is found on the blog article about Grant Boulanger.

      Good Luck!

      Michael Coxon 4 years ago Reply

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