Where is it from?
TPR stands for Total Physical Response. It is based upon the way that children learn their mother tongue. Parents have ‘language-body conversations’ with their children, the parent instructs and the child physically responds to this. The parent says, “Look at mummy” or “Give me the ball” and the child does so. These conversations continue for many months before the child actually starts to speak itself. Even though it can’t speak during this time, the child is taking in all of the language; the sounds, and the patterns. Eventually, when it has decoded enough, the child reproduces the language quite spontaneously. TPR attempts to mirror this effect in the language classroom.
How can I use it in class?
formulaic: In the classroom the teacher plays the role of parent. She starts by saying a word (‘jump’) or a phrase (‘look at the board’) and demonstrating an action. The teacher then says the command and the students all do the action. After repeating a few times it is possible to extend this by asking the students to repeat the word as they do the action. When they feel confident with the word or phrase you can then ask the students to direct each other or the whole class
It is more effective if the students are standing in a circle around the teacher and you can even encourage them to walk around as .they do the action
When should I use it?
TPR can be used to teach and practice many things
- Vocabulary connected with actions (smile, chop, headache, wriggle) etc
- Tenses past/present/future and continuous aspects (Every morning I clean my teeth, I make my bed, I eat breakfast) etc
- Classroom language like
- Open your books
- Imperatives/Instructions : Stand up, close your eyes
It can be adapted for all kinds of teaching situations, you just need to use your imagination
Why should I use it in the classroom?
It is a lot of fun, students enjoy it and it can be a real stirrer in the class. It lifts the pace and the mood.
It is very memorable. It really helps students to remember phrases or words
It is good for kinaesthetic learners who need to be active in the class
It can be used in large or small classes. It doesn’t really matter how many students you have as long as you are prepared to take the lead, the students will follow
It works well with mixed-ability classes. The physical actions get across the meaning effectively so that all the students are able to understand and use the target language
It doesn’t require a lot of preparation or materials. As long as you are clear what you want to practise (a rehearsal beforehand can help), it won’t take a lot of time to get ready)
It is very effective with teenagers and young learners
It involves both left- and right-brained learning.