TPRS and AP results

The results of 27 students on the Ap Exam.

Darcy Pippins of Norman, Oklahoma shared her 2014 AP Spanish Language and Culture results this summer. What is interesting to recognize is that achieving AP Exam success by acquiring language through only TPRS is possible. I will share some of what Darcy does.  Some results are from students that were in Spanish for 3 years and sometimes 4 years. It is evident that input-based instruction works. Darcy shared various details of her program but I wanted to show teachers that through storytelling and reading students are exposed to everything that can be expected on the AP exams.  Stay posted for more details about Darcy’s work since this year there are 40 students enrolled in AP Language.

What to expect on the AP Language and Culture exams?

Spanish, French & German:

  • Reading (authentic texts, literature, and dialogues)
  • Listening (interviews, podcasts, radio broadcasts)
  • Speaking (simulated conversations, 2 minute cultural comparison)
  • Writing (formal letter or email and persuasive essay)
  • No EXPLICIT grammar is assessed\


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  • 27 Students took the AP Spanish Language and Culture exam
  • 24 students passed with a score of 3 or better
  • 15 students had Darcy as their Spanish teacher for 4 years (Spanish II, III, IV and AP) and had no EXPLICIT grammar instruction
  • 12/15 passed the exam with a 3 or better


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  • ALL non-native students had 3+ years of COMPREHENSIBLE INPUT and read at least 4 novels a year


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  • 3 students skipped Spanish IV and took AP Spanish as juniors (all 3 passed the exam)
  • 1 student took a semester off to take AP Latin, then came back to take AP Spanish 2nd semester, he made a 3 on the exam.
  • 6 students were heritage speakers, all 6 passed the exam


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What I love about these results is that it reflects development of implicit knowledge of the language since none of these students received what Darcy referred to as explicit grammar instruction.

Contact Darcy Pippins directly at


Do you have some TPRS/AP data or information that you would like to share?  Email me at 

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  • Mike: I am happy to see your post on TPRS success through the AP level. I was wondering why so many people tend to think that TPRS is not useful above the first two levels. This impression may result in part from our workshops because we tend to stress “beginning” in an unknown language there so that people see how important it is to “go slow” with novices. However, I was happy to see that in one of Blaine’s presentations last week in Newark, NJ he included a subjunctive structure and he spoke some about TPRS students who have had AP success. In his own experience, from the beginning, he and Joe Nielson (I think) had immediate success with AP students. Several TPRS teachers have had students do well on the AP exams, both Language and Literature, but we don’t tell people enough about that (we should). I agree, we need to get the word out, to each other, that TPRS can work at the intermediate levels and above. I found TPRS effective in Spanish 5, high school, one year. When the input was made comprehensible, repetitive, and interesting (on my better days), the students were able to speak and write about whatever topics we covered. Culture and other content can be compelling, at higher levels too. It doesn’t all have to be pink elephants to get their attention. Serious, nonfiction topics and readings work too. Thanks for bringing up this topic. Sadly, some teachers go back to explicit grammar explanations at the higher levels (in English) rather than continuing through AP with TPRS. — Richard.

    Richard Baker 4 years ago Reply

  • I teach with CI/TPRS with no explicit grammar instruction. I teach in the IB program. All students have received at least a 5 with a total average of 5.87 out of 7 since testing began. One student last year received a 7! So it can be and is successful for sure.

    Tina Beard 4 years ago Reply

    • Hi Tina,

      I would love to know more details about what you are doing in your IB program. I think it would be helpful for a lot of teachers.


      Michael Coxon 4 years ago Reply

      • What test has the high score of 7? Is that an IB-type exam? Is it proficiency-oriented? Standardized? What does it test? — Richard.

        Richard Baker 4 years ago Reply

    • I would love to get more information on TPRS for IB and AP. I am on a mission to change my department’s archaic mindset. If you have time, please email or post more info on how you do TPRS for upper levels. This excites me! Thank you!

      Jenny Rogers 3 years ago Reply

      • Both ACTFL and the College Board indicate that the AP program is designed for students who have been exposed to the language for longer than 3.75 years; it is for students who have begun as true beginners.

        TPRS is deliberate in how the approach focuses on high frequency language, aural input, and various components of reading. Eventually, TPRS changes into discussion based classes in the target language. We start with TPRS readers and eventually want students reading literature suited for native speakers.

        Contact Oklahoma Teacher of the Year Darcy Pippins for more on what she does with her AP curriculum. I also recommend checking out what Mike Peto has to say about AP curriculum. You can find his blog in my side bar it is called My Generation of Polyglots.

        Michael Coxon 3 years ago Reply

  • Hi all,
    Our Spanish students are going to be working towards AP and I would love to be in on a bunch of these conversation.

    Megan 3 years ago Reply

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