Importance of TPR


What is the Total Physical Response and How This Method is used in the Classroom?

  • The All Physical Response (TPR) method, which can also be translated as the Total Physical Response method, is a language teaching method developed by James Asher, professor of psychology at San José State University.

Importance of TPR

  • It is based on the way children learn their mother tongue. Parents have ‘language-body conversations’ with their children, the parent gives instructions and the child physically responds to this. The parent says things like “Look at mommy” or “Give me the ball” and the child does it. These conversations continue for months before the child begins to speak. During this time, the child understands the entire language, although he cannot speak; sounds and reacts. When finally deciphered sufficiently, the child produces language spontaneously. TPR tries to reflect this effect in the language class.

Importance of TPR

  • The foreground is an example of the understanding approach to language teaching. Listening and responding (by actions) serve two purposes: It is a way to quickly recognize the meaning in the language being learned and passively learn the structure of the language. Grammar is not explicitly taught but can be learned from language input. TPR is an important way to learn phrases, especially idiomatic terms such as phrasal verbs.
  • Asher developed the TPR from the experiences of observing young children learning their first language. He noticed that interactions between parents and children often take the parent’s way of speaking, and then the child receives a physical response. Based on his observations, Asher proposed the following three hypotheses: first, language is learned primarily by listening; second, the right hemisphere of the brain must be involved throughout language learning; third, this language learning should not involve any stress.
  • Total physical response is often used in conjunction with other methods and techniques. It is popular with beginners and young learners, but can be used with students of all levels and all age groups.
  • James Asher developed the TPR method as a result of observing the language development of young children. Asher found that many of the interactions young children have with parents or other adults combine both verbal and physical aspects. The child reacts physically to the parent’s speech, and the parent reinforces the child’s reactions through more speech. Asher also observed that young children often spend a long time listening to language before trying to speak, and they can understand and react to far more complex expressions than they can produce.
  • Asher came up with three main hypotheses from his experience about learning the second languages ​​involved in the All Physical Response method. The first is the brain’s natural tendency to learn languages ​​by listening. In particular, Asher says that students internalize language best when they respond to language input with physical movement. Asher assumes that after students have internalized the target language through input, speaking develops naturally and spontaneously and should not be forced. In Asher’s own words: “A plausible hypothesis is that the brain and nervous system are biologically programmed to acquire a first or second language in a specific order and in a specific mode. The TV series is listened to before speaking, and the mood language is synchronized with the person’s body. “
  • The second of Asher’s hypotheses is that effective language learning should participate in the right hemisphere of the brain. Physical movement is primarily controlled by the right hemisphere and Asher sees the combination of movement with language comprehension as the key to language acquisition. He says that left hemisphere learning should be avoided and that the left hemisphere needs great experience with right hemisphere-based input before natural speech can take place.
  • Asher’s third hypothesis is that language learning should not involve any stress, as stress and negative emotions interfere with the natural language learning process. Many consider the Stressful nature of language teaching as one of its greatest weaknesses.

The Principles of Total Physical Response:

  • Overall physical response, students do not need to speak. Instead, teachers wait until they learn the language by listening to what students speak spontaneously.
  • At the beginning of the teacher, students are able to answer the teacher in their native language.
  • In the All Physical Reactions method, most of the class time is spent understanding what we are hearing, while the main purpose of this method is to improve fluency.
  • Asher believes that developing listening skills is the most authentic method of developing oral language expertise.
  • In the TPR course, the teacher gives instructions based on the verbs and vocabulary that will be learned in the previous lesson.
  • However, the main focus of the lesson is on the connotations that distinguish TPR from other teaching methods such as Translation Grammar, Direct Method.
  • Grammar in the TPR procedure is not transferred explicitly, but is learned through initialization.
  • Students are expected to be able to consciously acquire the grammatical structure of a language by being exposed to input from spoken language and parsing the message in advance to find out its meaning. This listening approach is called code breaking.
  • Any physical response is a teaching technique and a philosophy of language teaching.
  • Teachers do not need to limit themselves to TPR techniques to teach according to the principles of TPR methods. Since students only need to listen and not speak, the sole responsibility for what they hear rests with the teacher.

How Total Physical Response method is used in the classroom?

  • In the classroom, teachers play the role of parents. It begins by saying a word (“jump”) or a sentence (“see board”) and demonstrates an action. Then the teacher says the command and all the students do the action. After repeating it several times, it is possible to lengthen it by asking students to repeat it the word while doing the action.
  •  You can ask students to guide each other or the whole class when they feel comfortable with the word or phrase.
  • It is most effective for students to stand in a circle around the teacher, and it can even encourage them to walk while performing the action.
  • When to use TPR?
  • TPR can be used to teach and practice many things, such as;
  • Vocabulary associated with actions (smile, headache, agitation, etc.)
  • Past / present / future and constant times (I brush my teeth every morning, make bed, breakfast.
  • Class language (standing, ready for roll call)
  • Requirements / Instructions (stand up, close eyes)
  • It can be adapted to any teaching situation; you just need to use your imagination!


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