TPRS Units

Each of the following units contains a story script for telling in class, a text for reading, comprehension questions, speaking prompts and a writing prompt.  Most units fit best in a Spanish 2 or 3 class.  All units can (and should) be adapted to fit your class.

Carlos Quería Una Novia: This story and reading are simple and a good place to start for students who are new to TPRS, are returning after a break or need a review on high frequency expressions.

Summary: A man had a cat but wanted a girlfriend.  After much searching, he finally found a perfect girlfriend and then discovered she was his cousin.

Target structures

  • había un hombre – there was a man
  • quería una novia – he wanted a girlfriend
  • tenía un gato – he had a cat
  • fue – he went

Un Accidente de Autobús : An action-filled story that is always a favorite of students and provides exposure to the use of simple verbs.  It also can serve as a review of body parts.  The dialogue provides exposure to first person and second person conversation.

Summary: A group of people was riding in a bus (or other transport) when it crashed.  Each person sustained different injuries.  A rescue worker arrived to help.  He/she did little to help those with the most serious injuries but rushed the person with a broken finger to the hospital.  On the way to the hospital, he crashed as well.  That’s life.

Target structures:

  • chocó – s/he crashed
  • se rompió el tobillo – broke his/her ankle
  • “así es la vida” – that’s life, such is life
  • “me duele” – it hurts me

Los Mensajes de Texto: A “try to keep up” story about a string of text messages.  Includes repetitions of the simple past, descriptions and an introduction to present subjunctive.

Summary: A loveable loser tries to tell a girl how he feels about her via text message.  He accidentally sends a love message to the wrong girl.  Her boyfriend sees it, and becomes angry.  The boy tries again and accidentally sends the love note to his sister.  She responds that they can’t be together because they are siblings but, of course, accidentally sends the message to the wrong person.

Target Structures

  • tenía vergüenza – s/he/I was embarrassed
  • mandó un mensaje de texto – s/he sent a text message
  • “quiero que seas mi novia” – I want you to be my girlfriend

Los Vaqueros: Another story that contains much action and is fun when good actors are involved.  This story is designed to be used not long after “Los mensajes de texto” and incorporates many of the same concepts.

Summary: There were two cowboys.  One was the best in the world, and the other was the worst.  The son of the best cowboy was very proud of his father while the son of the worst was embarrassed of his.  At the rodeo, the best cowboy made his son even prouder.  The worst cowboy continually embarrassed his so much that he tried to join a different family.

Target Structures

  • Era el mejor/peor vaquero del mundo – was the best/worst cowboy in the world
  • Estaba orgulloso(a) – was proud
  • “se cayó” – s/he fell

Tenía Que Aprender : A story that provides much exposure to infinitive constructions.  The reading includes the importance of learning other languages and the dangers of computer translators.   

Summary: A man needed a job and looked on Craigslist.  He found one as a chef at a Mexican restaurant, but he didn’t know how to make tacos.  He had to learn.  He tried to learn but still did not know how to make them.  He got fired and had to find a new job.  He found a job as a doctor, but he didn’t know how to operate.  He had to learn.  His first operation was a disaster, and he got fired again.  He found a third job as a pilot.  He didn’t know how to fly a plane.  He tried to learn but did not.  Of course, his first day on the job was also his last.  

Target Structures

  • tenía que aprender – s/he had to learn
  • no sabía – s/he did not know
  • “me cuesta” – it is difficult for me

Una Mascota Nueva: A fun story that can be used to practice animals and provides much exposures to infinitive constructions and using the verb llevar, which is often a difficult term/concept to master.  There is also opportunity for exposure to preterite/imperfect contrasts.

Summary: A man was sick of all the pets he had.  He wanted to buy a talking bird.  The first bird he bought did not speak Spanish.  The second bird could not fly.  The third bird seemed perfect but was actually the worst of all.

Target structures

  • fue a la tienda de mascotas – s/he went to the pet store
  • quería comprar un pájaro – s/he/I wanted to buy a bird
  • lo llevó a la casa – s/he took it home

El Hombre Que No Podía Volar: A tragic story that provides exposure to infinitive constructions.  The corresponding reading is also tragic and opens the door to discussions about the crazy things people (and ducks) will do for love.  

Summary: A man wanted to fly, but he could not fly.  He tried to fly many times and many ways but always fell.  He found a magic ring and tried to turn into a bird.  First, he turned into a cow and could not fly.  Second, he turned into a pig and could not fly.  He finally got it right and turned into a bird, but ran into (or flew into) some trouble.

Target structures

  • no podía volar – s/he could not fly
  • trató de volar – s/he tried to fly
  • se convirtió en – s/he turned into

La Rutina Estricta y El ladrón: A story that provides exposure to the imperfect tense used to describe habits and the past progressive used to describe occurring events.  It also reviews daily routine actions and telling time.  

Summary: A man was very strict in his daily routine.  One night a thief entered his house and stole his food, so he could not eat breakfast at the usual time.  The next night, the thief stole his shampoo, so he couldn’t wash his hair at the usual time.  The next night, the thief stole his dog food, so he could not feed his dog at the usual time . . . etc.  The man stayed up one night and caught the thief but found out it was a friend.  He decided to invite the thief to live with him.  All was forgiven.  On the first morning as roommates, the thief ate breakfast at the wrong time, which was unacceptable to the man.

Target Structures

  • Siempre desayunaba a las 7:13 – He always used to eat breakfast at 7:13
  • Estaba durmiendo cuando un ladrón entró – He/she/I was sleeping when a thief entered
  • No podía ducharse – He/She/I was not able to shower

Max Tenía la Culpa: A story about a complicated relationship that provides exposure to phrases that can be difficult to grasp in Spanish.  

Summary: Max was a bad boyfriend to María.  Many bad things happened to her, and they were all his fault.  However, after each mistake, he asked for forgiveness and María always took him back, even after spending 50 years in jail for a crime that Max committed.  

Target Structures:

  • tenía la culpa – He/she/I was at fault/guilty
  • volvió a + infinitive – he/she did something again
  • “te pido perdón” – I ask for your forgiveness

No Ha Besado a Una Mujer: A story which provides opportunity for many repetitions of present perfect structures as well as using the verb faltar and the verb seguir with gerunds.  

Summary: A man has never kissed a woman  because he has never met the perfect woman.  He decides to put an ad online to search for the perfect woman.  Several women respond, but each is lacking something and not perfect.  He keeps looking.  

Target Structures:

  • No ha besado a una mujer – s/he has not kissed a woman
  • Le falta(n) – s/he is lacking/missing
  • Sigue buscando – s/he keeps looking

Las Metas de los Niños: A story about following dreams and accomplishing goals.  The story is simple but contains exposure to several tenses, with a focus on future and present perfect.  This unit includes two readings.  The second  is designed to be adapted and presented as a personal essay written by the teacher years ago.  

Summary: Carlos was a child who dreamed of playing professional football.  He was the only one who believed he could.  He was a weak and unsuccessful child.  Even his teacher did not believe in him.  However, his former classmates are amazed at the class reunion many years later when they discover that Carlos has achieved his goal.     

Target structures:

  • Era débil  – S/he/I was weak
  • “Jugaré para los Dallas Cowboys” – I will play for the Dallas Cowboys
  • Ha logrado su meta – S/he has achieved his/her goal.

Mi Hijo Será Abogado: A story and reading about following dreams, useful for providing exposure to the past and  future tenses.

Summary: A young man comes from a family of several successful lawyers and is expected to continue the family tradition by becoming one himself.  However, he desires a different career, which upsets his father.  Thanks to support from his mother and friends, he follows his dreams to his career.  One day, his father realizes the value of his son’s profession.

Target structures:

  • “Mi hijo será abogado” – My son will be a lawyer
  • Tenía éxito – had success
  • Exitoso(a) – successful
  • “Sigue tus sueños” – follow your dreams

El Amor y La Muerte: A Collection of 12 Spanish TPRS Units: All 12 of the units above for a discounted price.