How compatible are ACARA & TPRS: Part 1

For me, the most significant sentence in the ACARA document is found on page 14:

Teachers will make decisions about pedagogies that best meet the learning needs of their particular students and the context of their particular program.

In essence, this sentence acknowledge that it is sensible and practical for teachers to make the  decisions necesary for selecting the most suitable pedagogy to use in their classrooms. As long as the needs of the students are met and it matches our teaching objectives, then the choice of ‘how’ is up to us.

So obviously, the next question becomes: can TPRS provide us with a methodology that delivers the curriculum in a way that ‘student needs are met’? To begin to answer this, consider the gist of this sentence found in the same paragraph as the above quote:

……. band descriptions, content descriptions, content elaborations and the achievement standards provide an overall sense of … expectations about language teaching …. (and) provide a reference point for making judgments about students’ progress in learning.

In other words, band descriptions, content descriptions, content elaboratons and achievement standards should all  be considered equally when planning, programming, teaching and assessing (even though my principal added only a copy of the achievement standards with our semester 1 reports). Thus if we create a word cloud of the entire Indonesian Curriculum, we discover the high frequency words used which would, we could argue, illustrate the key points that teachers should consider a priority  when programming.

curriuclum word cloud

From this, I would conclude that the curriculum suppports the teaching of Indonesian language via the use of texts!! Do you agree??

If we break it down though and look at word clouds created from the content descriptions, the band descriptions and the achievement standards, is there a difference?

Band Descriptors

woord cloud band descriptions

(most common word: language)

Content Descriptors

word cloud content descriptions

(most common word: texts)

Achievement standards

word cloud achievement standards

(most common word: Students)

If ‘texts’, ‘Students’ and ‘language’ are the key words, then I can easily argue that TPRS is a pedagogy highly compatible with the Australian Curriculum. Students are provided with language texts constantly!!

Consider the 3 basic steps of TPRS:

  1. Introduce the target structures
  2. Story telling/ story asking
  3. Reading

TPRS is all about presenting our students with compelling Indonesian texts!


8 thoughts on “How compatible are ACARA & TPRS: Part 1

  1. Penny says:

    Nice one!

    And use of authentic texts lends to intercultural understandings. But… I think it’s also important to have “time out for English” to debrief and get into the higher-order conceptual stuff (reflection).

    How do you feel about the emphasis on “imaginary” throughout the AC? My concern is that it’s not explicitly balanced by “authentic” – I aim for my students to apply language in real life, not only imaginary (role play) contexts!


    • bucathy says:

      wow – I just searched using the word beginning “imagin” and for 76 matches!! I had no idea! Once again, this fits in beautifully with TCI as most of the stories we use in class are imaginary! Authentic Indonesian texts are rarely 100% comprehensible for my students as they often contain abbreviations &/or lots and lots of slang/ unfamiliar language. Even texts specifically for Indonesian junior primary students is difficult. There is a real need for leveled Indonesian readers for Indonesian students which would then also be ideal for students of Indonesian as well.
      I agree about the need for English to explain certain issues however TCI experts recommend that this is kept to a minimum as the priority is learning how to communicate in the language which is ideally done via heaps and heaps of linguistic input in the target language. I am constantly reminding my students that they only have 2 hours of Indonesian a week, so Indonesian is the priority in my classroom! What percentage of your lessons are conducted in Indonesian and does it vary from year to year or class to class?


  2. loujaenschnsch says:

    Brilliant Cathy! Maybe that’s a sideline for you! Writing Indo texts suitable for second language learners OR getting Indonesian friends to work with you …. In the 1980s teacher -linguists set up literacy centres on the APY lands with the express purpose of facilitating community members to create oral and written texts in Pitjantjatara for use in the bilingual curriculum in schools. I was one of that group of 5 and it was so rewarding. Slightly different context but underlying principle the same. Language rich resources for language rich interactions! Maybe I should have kept going with my Indo language studies!!!!


    • bucathy says:

      Do you remember Ibu May? She writes and publishes children’s stories!! My next year of traveling around Indonesia already has a focus! Travel around to source ideas and illustrations and then return to Ibu May who will help me put it together!! Can’t wait!


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