NTPRS 2015: my presentation on FVR

title page This is the power point that I presented at NTPRS 2015 in Reston, VA. If you missed my session or you could not make it to NTPRS this year then, as you open up the power point, look at the display mode called “notes page” and you will be able to read the transcript of what I said in the session.


I present an argument as to why FVR should be a part of TPRS classes for all students, not just high achievers. I also cover the essentials that you will need to create your own FVR program, some advice on how to be frugal and how to assess the effectiveness of the program. Within the presentation there are a lot of embedded links, so even if you came to the session you may want to download some of the materials mentioned. Click here to download the presentation.

Finally, on Twitter after the presentation, Steve Smith asked whether TPRS places more weight on reading than listening. While my FVR program is essential to my classes, the non-heritage speakers are only reading for 5-15 minutes while the majority of the class time is spent with story-asking and PQA.

Someone else asked if I read class novels and do FVR at the same time. I should have mentioned that I usually teach 2 class novels per year with my Spanish 3 kids in units that last no longer than 3 weeks; during that time FVR and other non-class-novel activities are suspended. With my level 1 kids I still read class novels as well (Pobre Ana can start as early as we want), but we do not start FVR until the 2nd semester.

Finally my heritage speakers read more; once they are accustomed we will spend as much as 20-30 minutes per class reading FVR… although 10 minutes is more typical for the beginning of the school year. FVR is suspended while we read whole class novels or on the days that I read a short story to them.


  1. Wish I had seen this presentation. Thanks for sharing it! Could you clarify why children stories (that are good real-alouds to 5 year olds) are not great FVR books? Is it because they are seen as too ‘babyish’? I guess I could agree somewhat. I also found that students had a lot of nostalgia towards some of those books. Would appreciate your thoughts!

    1. First let me look at how we can use those childrens books: Those are great for Kindergarten day because we are reading the book to students in a CI-friendly way, ignoring out of bounds vocab and loosely telling the story just like you would to a 5 year old. But keep in mind that the five year old would have had thousands upon thousands of hours of comprehensible input… they are making a transition from fluency to literacy, whereas our students have maybe 125 hours of CI per year! Therefore it is logical that a 5 year old may understand us when we read a story that says, “the hare leaped over the bushes and escaped into the brush” whereas, for our students, we might change that to something much more simple like, “the bunny ran. He escaped.”

      The problem with reading these books independently is that they are often designed for kids with thousands of hours of aural CI who are transitioning from fluency to literacy. These books are chock full of odd vocabulary, sometimes very idiomatic or regional. The grammar structures are surprising complicated. When our students read them they easily get confused. FVR is powerful when it is pleasure reading, not hard reading. If kids are nostalgically looking at books from their childhood, but are not really reading because the text is beyond them, then they will not gain the benefits of pleasure reading. I have recommended mostly TPRS authors because they are the only ones truly hitting this sweet spot of comprehensible and interesting that makes pleasure reading compelling to students. Yes, bring in the books full of nostalgia that will rope kids into the class, but do it in kindergarten day activities where they are not reading but being read to.

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