Incorporating TPR into English language lessons can make learning more interactive and enjoyable, especially for younger learners. Total Physical Response should be a dynamic and enjoyable experience for students. It’s a valuable tool for introducing new vocabulary, building listening skills, and creating a low-pressure language learning environment, particularly for beginners and young learners. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to apply TPR in your English language lessons and tips to use it effectively.
What is TPR (Total Physical Response)?
Total Physical Response (TPR) is a language teaching method that emphasizes the use of physical movement to help learners acquire a new language, such as English. Developed by Dr. James J. Asher in the 1960s, TPR is particularly effective for beginners and young learners, although it can be adapted for learners of all ages and proficiency levels.
TPR is often used in the early stages of language learning to build a foundation of comprehension and basic vocabulary. As students progress, they gradually transition from responding with physical actions to speaking and producing the language themselves.
Total Physical Response can be a valuable method for teaching English to learners who may be hesitant to speak initially, as it allows them to engage with the language in a non-threatening way.
Why is TPR (Total Physical Response) important?
Total Physical Response (TPR) is important in language teaching and learning for several reasons:
Engagement and Motivation through TPR:
TPR makes language learning engaging and fun, particularly for younger learners. The use of physical actions and movements captures students’ attention and maintains their motivation to participate in the learning process.
Comprehension and Listening Skills:
TPR places a strong emphasis on listening and comprehension skills. It helps learners develop their ability to understand spoken language, which is a crucial component of language acquisition.
Low Anxiety Environment:
Total Physical Response creates a low-pressure learning environment, especially for beginners. Students do not need to produce the language immediately, which reduces anxiety and fear of making mistakes.
Contextual Learning through TPR:
Language is introduced in a contextual and meaningful way. Learners associate words and phrases with specific actions and situations, making vocabulary and grammar more memorable.
Natural Language Acquisition:
Total Physical Response mimics the natural language acquisition process, where infants and young children first comprehend and respond physically before they start speaking. This mirrors the way language is acquired in real-life settings.
TPR encourages active participation. Students are physically involved in the learning process, which can help them internalize language structures and concepts more effectively.
The use of physical movements and actions enhances memory retention. When students associate language with physical gestures, they are more likely to remember vocabulary and sentence structures.
TPR Effective for All Ages:
While TPR is often used with young learners, it can be adapted for learners of all ages and proficiency levels. It can serve as a valuable introduction to language learning or as a tool to reinforce language concepts.
How to apply TPR in Teaching English?
Applying Total Physical Response (TPR) in teaching English involves incorporating physical actions and movements into your language lessons to enhance comprehension and retention. Here’s how you can apply TPR effectively:
Select Appropriate Vocabulary and Commands:
Choose a set of vocabulary words, phrases, or commands relevant to your lesson or the language proficiency level of your students.
Begin by demonstrating each command or vocabulary word through physical actions. For example, if you’re teaching action verbs, physically demonstrate actions like “stand up,” “sit down,” “jump,” or “clap.”
Use Gestures for TPR:
Accompany spoken commands with gestures or visual cues. This helps reinforce the connection between the language and the action.
Repeat and Reinforce:
Repeat each command several times, both verbally and through physical actions. Encourage students to follow along and mimic your movements.
Invite students to participate actively. Encourage them to listen carefully and respond with the corresponding actions when you give a command. For example, say “Raise your hand,” and have students raise their hands.
Progress Gradually by TPR:
Start with simple commands and vocabulary, and gradually introduce more complex language structures and sentences as students become more proficient. For instance, you can move from single-word commands to full sentences like “Open the door, please.”
Step-by-step Guide on Applying TPR
Step 1: Set Clear Learning Objectives
Determine specific language learning objectives you want to achieve with TPR. These could include vocabulary acquisition, comprehension of commands, or the development of listening skills.
Step 2: Plan Engaging TPR Activities
Design TPR activities that align with your learning objectives and the proficiency level of your students. Activities can range from simple commands to more complex tasks as students progress.
Select a set of English vocabulary or phrases that you want students to learn through TPR.
Step 3: Create a Vocabulary List
Compile a list of vocabulary words or phrases that correspond to the TPR activities. Ensure that the vocabulary is relevant to the lesson’s theme or context.
Step 4: Introduce Vocabulary
Begin the TPR lesson by introducing a few vocabulary words or phrases orally, demonstrating the corresponding physical actions or gestures for each word.
Encourage students to watch and listen carefully as you model the actions and repeat the words.
Step 5: Practice Commands
Gradually introduce commands or prompts related to the vocabulary. For example, you might say, “Jump” or “Clap your hands.”
Model the action as you give the command, and have students respond by performing the action.
Step 6: Expand Vocabulary and Complexity
As students become comfortable with the basic commands, introduce new vocabulary and more complex phrases. For example, “Touch your toes” or “Turn around twice.”
Continue to model actions and provide clear verbal instructions for each new phrase.
Step 7: Combine Actions and Vocabulary
Incorporate the previously learned vocabulary and commands into longer sequences or sentences. For example, “Jump and clap your hands” or “Touch your toes, then turn around twice.”
Encourage students to follow the sequence of actions and commands accurately.
Step 8: Encourage Student Participation
Gradually transition to having students take turns giving commands to their classmates. This promotes active participation and reinforces vocabulary retention.
Encourage students to speak confidently and clearly when giving commands.
Step 9: Assess Understanding
Continuously assess students’ comprehension of the commands and their ability to perform the corresponding actions. Offer feedback and correction when needed.
Use questions like “What does ‘jump’ mean?” or “What should you do when I say ‘touch your toes’?” to check understanding.
Step 10: Expand Activities
Apply TPR to various language learning activities, such as vocabulary drills, storytelling, or role-playing exercises.