German teachers from around the country arrived at Sweet Briar College on Sunday to attend the eighth annual “TPRS Coaching and Learning” seminar, which runs from July 29 through Aug. 3.
The seminar focuses on “Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling” (TPRS), a method developed by Blaine Ray. In the last 20 years, TPRS has become popular among language educators. The seminar is one of many TPRS programs held nationwide, but it is the only one offered exclusively for German teachers.
The American Association of Teachers of German (AATG) has sponsored and publicized the program since its inception in 2003.
“Through the sponsorship of the program Sweet Briar has become well-known with German teachers from all over the United States and from some foreign countries,” said Ronald Horwege, professor of German at Sweet Briar.
The seminar originated after Julie Baird, a German teacher from Indiana and one of the leading experts in teaching German through TPRS, conducted an immersion weekend program at Sweet Briar College in 2002.
“After the immersion weekend, Julie and I sat down together and decided to follow up on the positive response the program had gotten by organizing a weeklong TPRS seminar,” Horwege said. “The idea was presented to the AATG and bore fruit.”
For the first seminar in 2003, Baird was assisted by Robert Williams, who teaches German at Fairfax High School in Fairfax, Va. Because enrollment grew with each session, the group expanded in its third year by adding Hank Schwab from North Brunswick Township High School in New Jersey. In subsequent years, other staff members were added. For this year’s seminar, the staff consists of Baird, Williams, Schwab and Horwege, who has organized and administered all seminar sessions.