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Total Physical Response

Total Physical Response

Magdalena Krstevska

Pioneered by James Asher, Total Physical Response frames language learning as a sequence of hearing instructions, seeing actions, and imitating kinesthetic behavior. Research has shown that rapid and durable language learning can follow TPR engagement. 2

Total Physical Response

Magdalena Krstevska

1. Total Physical Response Total Physical Response (TPR) is one of new methods developed by James Asher, a professor of psychology at San Jos State University, California, USA, to aid learning foreign language. TPR is a language learning method which is based on the coordination of speech and action. It is linked to the trace theory of memory, which holds that the more often or intensively a memory connection is traced, the stronger memory will be. In TPR classroom, students respond to commands that require physical movement. Asher defines that the method of TPR relies on the assumption that when learning a second language or a foreign language, that language is internalized through a process that is similar to first language development and that the process allows for long period of listening and developing comprehension prior to production(www.wikipedia.com) Richard and Rodgers (1986: 87) state that TPR is a language teaching method built around the coordination of speech and action; it attempts to teach language through physical (motor) activity. Garcia (2001: 1) explains that the two very important concepts in TPR are the notion of Total Physical Response involvement and the role played by the right hemisphere of the brain in learning a second language by action. The first concept deals with the idea of introducing second language by giving action response which has been influenced by the way people acquire their first language. A baby would not memorize a list of words or try to speak immediately. They just listen first to the other family members and then act or do thing in response to their utterances. In the next period he would speak if he was ready to. Nevertheless at first, he would listen and carry out actions or respond 3

Total Physical Response

Magdalena Krstevska

physically to him. The second one relates to the brain hemisphere. Our brain is divided into two parts, left and right hemispheres. Scientists had found that the left and the right hemisphere were two independent neurogical entities having different functions both account for different responsibilities (Garcia, 2001:1) Garcia explains further that the TPR approach is a right brain method of learning a language because the language is taught mainly through actions. In the other words, commands play as the core of the course. TPR is based on the premise that the human brain has a biological program from acquiring any natural language in the world including the sign language of the deaf. The process is visible when we observe how infants internalize their first language (www.tprsource.com/asher.htm). Asher looks to the way that children combine both verbal and physical aspects. A child responds physically to the speech for the parent. The responses of the child are in turn positively reinforced by the speech of the parent. For many months the child absorbs the language without being able to speak. With TPR the teacher tries to mimic this process in class (www.tprworld.com/organizing). TPR is also named the comprehension approach since of the importance given to listening comprehension. In TPR, students listen and respond to the spoken target language commands of their teacher. If they can perform the teachers instructions it means that they know the meaning of the words. From the explanation above, the writer concludes that TPR places more emphasis on the link between word and action. The activity, where a command is given in the imperative and the learners obey the command, is the main activity of TPR. Therefore, it will be easier for the students to recall the words they have learned if they use their body in learning vocabulary items. The powerful method of TPR is best applied to introduce new vocabulary and new grammatical feature at any level.

Total Physical Response

Magdalena Krstevska

TPR can be varied in any different activities such as storytelling, dialogue, games, or a pattern drill. 2. The Objectives of TPR A method or technique in teaching and learning process must be developed in order to get a better purpose for a better life. TPR was developed in order to improve the better result of teaching learning process of a new language. Teachers who use TPR believe in the importance of having the students enjoy their experience in learning to communicate a foreign language. According to Larsen-Freeman (2000: 113), TPR was develop in order to reduce the stress people feel when studying foreign languages and thereby encourage students to persist in their study beyond a beginning level of proficiency. Richard and Rodgers (1986: 91) say: The general objectives of Total Physical Response are to teach oral proficiency at a beginning level. Comprehension is a mean to an end, and the ultimate aim is to give basic speaking skills. TPR aims to produce learners who are capable of an uninhibited communication that is intelligible to a native speaker. From the statement above, there are some objectives of Total Physical Response: 1) Teaching oral proficiency at a beginning level. 2) Using comprehension as a means to speaking 3) Using action-based drills in the imperative form

Total Physical Response

Magdalena Krstevska

3. The Teacher and Learners Role in TPR In the teaching learning process using TPR method, the learners and the teacher play different roles. 1) Learners Role Learners in TPR have the primary roles of listeners and performers. They listen attentively and respond both individually and collectively. They have little influence over the content of learning since the content is determined by the teacher who must follow the imperative form for lesson (Richard and Rodgers 1986:93). According to Larsen and Freeman (2000: 113), the students are imitators of the teachers nonverbal model. There will be a role reversal with individual students directing the teacher and the other students. In TPR, learners monitor and evaluate their own progress. They are encouraged to speak when they feel ready to speak that is when a sufficient basis in the language has been internalized. 2) Teacher Role In the teaching learning process using TPR method, teacher plays an active and direct role. According to Larsen and Freeman (2000: 113) teacher is the director of all students behaviors. Asher (1977) as quoted by Richard and Rodgers, (1986: 93) states The instructor is the director of a stage play in which the students are the actors. It means that teacher is the one who decides what to teach, who models and presents the new material, and who selects supporting materials for classroom use. Teacher is encouraged to be well prepared and well organized so that the lesson flows smoothly and predictable.

Total Physical Response

Magdalena Krstevska

4. The Principles of Total Physical Response Before applying the TPR method for teaching a foreign language, in this case is English, a teacher should understand its principles well so he will be able to use it properly in the teaching learning process. Asher as the developer of TPR elaborates the principles of this method, they are: 1) Second language learning is parallel to first language learning and should reflect the same naturalistic process 2) Listening should develop before speaking 3) Children respond physically to spoken language, and adult learners learn better if they do that too 4) Once listening comprehension has been develop, speech develops naturally and effortlessly out of it 5) Delaying speech reduces stress. (www.tprsource.com/asher.htm) Moreover, Larsen and Freeman (2000: 111) describe several principles in teaching learning process by using TPR upon which the teachers behaviors is based. The principles of TPR are as follow: 1) Meaning in the target language can often be conveyed through action. Memory is activated through learners response. The target language should not be presented in chunks; not just word by word. 2) The students understanding of the target language should be developed before speaking. 3) Students can initially learn one part of the language rapidly by moving their bodies. 4) The imperative is powerful linguistic device through which the teacher can direct student behavior. 5) Students can learn through observing actions as well as by performing the action themselves. 7

Total Physical Response

Magdalena Krstevska

6) Feeling of success and low anxiety facilitate learning. 7) Students should not be made to memorize fixed routines. 8) Correction should be carried out in an unobtrusive manner. 9) Students must not develop flexibility in understanding a novel combination of target language chunks. They need to understand more than the exact sentences used in training. 10) Language learning is more effective when it is fun. 11) Spoken language should be emphasized over written language. 12) Students will begin to speak when they are ready. 13) Students are expected to make errors when they first begin speaking. Work on the fine details of the language should be postponed until students have become somewhat proficient. According to the principles above, it can be concluded that students will understand the meaning of the vocabulary items easily if they use their bodies while they are learning. In the learning, students should feel successful and they do not feel pessimistic. A teacher should be careful in correcting the students mistakes. Correcting the mistakes improperly will make the students fell desperate. Therefore, an English teacher must be able to create flexibility in the class room. Another important thing is that the new vocabulary should be presented in a context not word by word. 5. A discussion of the Total Physical Response approach to language teaching. Originally developed by James Asher, an American professor of psychology, in the 1960s, Total Physical Response (TPR) is based on the theory that the memory is enhanced through association with physical movement. It is also closely associated with theories of mother tongue language acquisition in very 8

Total Physical Response

Magdalena Krstevska

young children, where they respond physically to parental commands, such as "Pick it up" and "Put it down". TPR as an approach to teaching a second language is based, first and foremost, on listening and this is linked to physical actions which are designed to reinforce comprehension of particular basic items. A typical TPR activity might contain instructions such as "Walk to the door", "Open the door", "Sit down" and "Give Maria your dictionary". The students are required to carry out the instructions by physically performing the activities. Given a supportive classroom environment, there is little doubt that such activities can be both motivating and fun, and it is also likely that with even a fairly limited amount of repetition basic instructions such as these could be assimilated by the learners, even if they were unable to reproduce them accurately themselves. The above examples, however, also illustrate some of the potential weaknesses inherent in the approach. Firstly, from a purely practical point of view, it is highly unlikely that even the most skilled and inventive teacher could sustain a lesson stage involving commands and physical responses for more than a few minutes before the activity became repetitious for the learners, although the use of situational role-play could provide a range of contexts for practising a wider range of lexis. Secondly, it is fairly difficult to give instructions without using imperatives, so the language input is basically restricted to this single form. Thirdly, it is quite difficult to see how this approach could extend beyond beginner level. Fourthly, the relevance of some of the language used in TPR activities to real-world learner needs is questionable. Finally, moving from the listening and responding stage to oral production might be workable in a small group of learners but it would appear to be problematic when applied to a class of 30 students, for example. In defence of the approach, however, it should be emphasized that it was never intended by its early proponents that it should extend beyond beginner level. (In theory it might be possible to develop it by making the instructions lexically more complex (for example, "Pick up the toothpaste and unscrew the cap"), but this 9

Total Physical Response

Magdalena Krstevska

does seem to be stretching the point somewhat). In addition, a course designed around TPR principles would not be expected to follow a TPR syllabus exclusively, and Asher himself suggested that TPR should be used in association with other methods and techniques. In terms of the theoretical basis of the approach, the idea of listening preceding production and learners only being required to speak when they are ready to do so closely resembles elements of Stephen Krashens Natural Approach. Short TPR activities, used judiciously and integrated with other activities can be both highly motivating and linguistically purposeful. Careful choice of useful and communicative language at beginner level can make TPR activities entirely valid. Many learners respond well to kinesthetic activities and they can genuinely serve as a memory aid. A lot of classroom warmers and games are based, consciously or unconsciously, on TPR principles. As with other "fringe" methods, however, wholesale adoption of this approach, to the total exclusion of any other, would probably not be sustainable for very long. 6. The usage of TPR While other methods have come and gone, Total Physical Response (TPR) is still a valuable tool when teaching newly-arrived ESL students. Despite the wealth of materials available to us, nothing is more useful with a newcomer than this very direct and visual instruction. Total Physical Response (TPR), which is an ESL methodology developed by James J. Asher, has been in use for nearly thirty years. With the TPR method, the teacher says a single action word or phrase such as "jump" or "point to your eye" and then demonstrates the action. At first, students will only be able to follow the command. They may also be able to repeat the teacher's words as they copy the action. The next step is to proceed to more difficult language while still keeping the instruction direct and visual. I like to use simple TPR sequences in order to enlarge the students' vocabulary, teach the 10

Total Physical Response

Magdalena Krstevska

present continuous and past tense in context and practice English sentence structure and word order. When I teach a TPR lesson to my beginning students, I like to tape it in advance to music. This gives me the opportunity to repeat the command, demonstrate the action, and not worry about what command I need to do next. I can be sure that I have covered all of the actions that I intended to, and it helps me keep a record of what I have done. Of course, I save the tapes and use them again with my next group of newcomers. When you tape a sequence in advance, be sure to leave enough time between commands for students to act it out. 7. Facts about TPR learning TPR is based on the premise that the human brain has a biological program for acquiring any natural language on earth - including the sign language of the deaf. The process is visible when we observe how infants internalize their first language. The secret is a unique "conversation" between the parent and infant. For example, the first conversation is a parent saying, "Look at daddy. Look at daddy." The infant's face turns in the direction of the voice and daddy exclaims, "She's looking at me! She's looking at me!" Dr. Asher calls this "a language-body conversation" because the parent speaks and the infant answers with a physical response such as looking, smiling, laughing, turning, walking, reaching, grasping, holding, sitting, running, and so forth. Notice that these "conversations" continue for many, many months before the child utters anything more intelligible than "mommy" or "daddy." Although the infant is not yet speaking, the child is imprinting a linguistic map of how the language works. Silently, the child is internalizing the patterns and sounds of the target language.

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Total Physical Response

Magdalena Krstevska

When the child has decoded enough of the target language, speaking appears spontaneously. The infant's speech will not be perfect, but gradually, the child's utterances will approximate more and more that of a native speaker. Children and adults experience the thrill of immediate understanding when you apply this powerful concept in your classroom. Here is what we now know: 1. The dropout rate of second language students in a traditional program can be as high as 95%. Studies at the University of Texas and elsewhere show that this stunning attrition can be reversed when TPR is a central feature of the language program. The reason that TPR dramatically reduces attrition is this: TPR is a confidence-builder. Students of all ages including adults experience instant success in understanding an alien language. They remark: "Hey, this isn't so bad! I understand what she is saying. I didn't know I could do this. I feel great!" 2. TPR is aptitude-free. Academic aptitude is a negligible factor when TPR is applied by a skilled and talented teacher. In a traditional language program, principals screen "low" academic students from foreign language classes under the assumption that, "They simply can't do it!" Everyone is surprised when disadvantaged children who experience difficulty in class after class in a traditional school, enjoy success in a TPR class. These students experience the exhilaration of being competitive with the all "A" students. 3. Contrary to the widely-held belief that children have a linguistic advantage over adults, studies with Spanish, Russian, and Japanese show that when adults play the game of learning another language on a "level playing field" with children, adults consistently outperform children, except for pronunciation. TPR provides that "level playing field." In a traditional class, adults endure the handicap of sitting in rows of chairs while an instructor performs and performs and performs. In a TPR class, the students 12

Total Physical Response

Magdalena Krstevska

perform and perform and perform while the instructor is the director of the play. Note that this is exactly how children acquire another language so quickly while living in a foreign country. Children are silent but respond to directions from caretakers and other children. Children act in response to hundreds of directions uttered in the alien language such as "Come here." "Put on your coat." "Throw me the ball." "Walk faster." etc. This is a linguistic luxury that their parents living in the same country do not experience. 4. Studies with Spanish, French, German, Japanese, and Russian demonstrate that TPR is "brain compatible," meaning there is short and long-term retention that is striking and statistically significant across studies. Retention with TPR is analogous to riding a bicycle. Even if years have elapsed since acquiring the skill, after a few warm up trials, proficiency returns. 5. TPR seems to work effectively for children and adults. There is no age barrier. The only caveat is that if the language training starts after puberty, the probability is almost certain that one will have at least some accent in speaking the second language, no matter how many years one lives in the foreign country. 6. TPR seems to work for most languages including the sign language of the deaf and the language of mathematics. Math education is even more challenging than foreign language education because, in the USA, we spend more on remedial mathematics than all other forms of math education combined. Traditional programs in both math and foreign languages share a common flaw, in my judgment. Both specialties play to half the brain and usually it is the wrong half. 7. TPR can be the major focus of a language program or an extremely effective supplement.

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Total Physical Response

Magdalena Krstevska

Classroom usage In the classroom the teacher and students take on roles similar to that of the parent and child respectively. Students must respond physically to the words of the teacher. The activity may be a simple game such as Simon Says or may involve more complex grammar and more detailed scenarios. TPR can be used to practice and teach various things. It is well suited to teaching classroom language and other vocabulary connected with actions. It can be used to teach imperatives and various tenses and aspects. It is also useful for storytelling. Because of its participatory approach, TPR may also be a useful alternative teaching strategy for students with dyslexia or related learning disabilities, who typically experience difficulty learning foreign languages with traditional classroom instruction. According to its proponents, it has a number of advantages: Students will enjoy getting up out of their chairs and moving around. Simple TPR activities do not require a great deal of preparation on the part of the teacher. TPR is aptitudefree, working well with a mixed ability class, and with students having various disabilities. It is good for kinesthetic learners who need to be active in the class. Class size need not be a problem, and it works effectively for children and adults. However, it is recognized that TPR is most useful for beginners, though it can be used at higher levels where preparation becomes an issue for the teacher. It does not give students the opportunity to express their own thoughts in a creative way. Further, it is easy to overuse TPR-- "Any novelty, if carried on too long, will trigger adaptation." It can be a challenge for shy students. Additionally, the nature of TPR places an unnaturally heavy emphasis on the use of the imperative mood, that is to say commands such as "sit down" and "stand up". These features are of limited utility to the learner, and can lead to a learner appearing rude when attempting to use his new language. Of course, as a TPR 14

Total Physical Response

Magdalena Krstevska

class progresses, group activities and descriptions can be used which continue the basic concepts of TPR into full communication situations. 8. Advantages about TPR Easy to implement/no translation TPR instruction requires no translation or L1 support. It can help students and teachers make the transition to an English language environment. New playing field: no disadvantage for academically weaker students TPR does not depend on left-brain, academic skills. This gives all students a chance to shine in a new environment. Trains students to react to language and not think about it too much TPR requires an instant reaction. As there is no time to think during TPR practice, students can break the bad habit of over-analyzing language and become more comfortable with going with the flow, or guessing from context. Reduces pressure and stress for students TPR does not require a spoken response from students. Also, if implemented properly, students always understand what is happening during TPR practice, resulting in increased confidence and a lowering of the affective filter. Different style of teaching/learning TPR can be a break for both students and teachers, a refreshingly different style of teaching. Judiciously used, it can break up a lesson or day and keep students alert. Long-term retention/magic effect TPR results in long-term retention of language items, and the constant repetition and recycling involved reinforces this leading to a magic learning experience. 15

Total Physical Response

Magdalena Krstevska

Repetition is disguised: more effective input Skillful use of TPR allows us to drill language targets repeatedly without losing student interest. Addresses important weakness of Japanese students Japanese students, due to teaching methods and their school environment, have tended to be strong at reading and writing English, and weak at listening and speaking. TPR addresses this by working on students' aural comprehension, at the same time as forcing them to be active listeners. Perfect for TT TPR is perfect for team-teaching classes, as with two teachers one can serve as the model while the other calls out commands. Hard to show Results come from regular, planned application. One shot lessons, while perhaps interesting or diverting, do not yield the same results as a carefully thought out series of lessons. 9. The theories behind TPR Childhood language acquisition theories Children are exposed to huge amounts of language input before speaking. Language learners can also benefit from following this natural progression from comprehension to production, instead of the more normal situation where learners are asked to produce instantly. The right brain/left brain divide The left brain can be described as logical, one-track, and cynical. It is used when

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Total Physical Response

Magdalena Krstevska

analyzing, talking, discussing, etc. Most classroom activities are aimed at the left brain. The right brain is used when moving, acting, using metaphor, drawing, pointing, etc. It is targeted by sports and extra-curricular activities in schools. When language is taught by lecturing or explaining, the cynical left brain is targeted and the information is kept in short term memory (if at all). It is soon forgotten as it never becomes real to the student. When language is taught actively through movement, the right brain believes the information and retains it, in the same way that skills such as swimming or riding a bicycle are remembered long term. Lowering stress and the affective filter Students learn more when they are relaxed. This is because the affective filter, a mental barrier between the students and the information, is raised when students are nervous or uncomfortable. When the affective filter is high, learners find it harder to understand, process, and remember information. TPR helps reduce the affective filter because it is less threatening than traditional language activities. Students do not have to produce language. Mistakes are unimportant and easily (and painlessly) corrected by the teacher. Language is remembered easily and long-term. 11. Some principles Prepare a script It is essential to prepare a script for what you want to do, as it is extremely important not to change the language half way through. It is also important to recombine previously learned language in new ways. These factors, combined with the pace necessary for successful TPR instruction, mean that it is extremely difficult to improvise the commands.

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Total Physical Response

Magdalena Krstevska

Build on what has gone before TPR instruction should be seen as a progression, with new language being added to and combined with the old every session. Recycle language and review extensively On a similar note, previously learned language should be reviewed and cycled into lessons constantly in order to reinforce it. Don't change the target language While it can be useful to introduce synonyms, it is extremely important that the language not be changed half-way through a session. This is extremely confusing for students. Be good-natured and positive In order for students to relax and feel comfortable, during TPR practice the teacher should project a friendly and positive manner. Introduce limited number of new items and manipulate them extensively It is very important to limit the number of new items in order to avoid student overload and to allow students to process and absorb the language. New and old language should be manipulated in a variety of ways in order to give students a large amount of practice. Incorporate some humor Once students are used to TPR practice, introducing a limited amount of humor into the class can greatly increase students interest and enjoyment. Students don't speak Students should not be forced to repeat the commands or otherwise speak until they are ready. Students don't help each other 18

Total Physical Response

Magdalena Krstevska

Students should not need help with the TPR commands, as the meaning should be obvious from context/the teachers' explanation/previously learned language. Translating commands into Japanese for example reverts to left brain input, and the benefits of TPR are lost. Student listening abilities are also not improved.

12. An example LISTENING TECHNIQUES (1): Total physical Response 1. Procedure Teacher says and exemplifies action Teacher says and exemplifies action // students do the action Teacher says // students do the action Volunteer students say actions// other students do the action Introduce 'paper and pen' tasks Introduce more complex TPR activities (combine with songs, stories, etc) Review activities from time to time, each time in a more complex way 2. Do Use verbs in the infinitive Use simple sentences, make them complex little by little Say name of student once you have said the order Use taped material from time to time Use mime, gestures or visual material whenever you can 3. Don't do Do not translate Do not ask your students to translate 19

Total Physical Response

Magdalena Krstevska

Do not use written language Do not explain grammar Do not spend more than 15 minutes with each activity (unless drawing is involved) Do not ask your students to repeat, only do as you say Do not feel embarrassed 4. Examples of activities Listen and point Listen and do Listen and match Listen and draw Listen, do and sing Listen and colour Listen and cut

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Total Physical Response

Magdalena Krstevska

Conclusion Total Physical Response (TPR) is a method developed by Dr. James J. Asher, a professor emeritus of psychology at San Jos State University, to aid learning second languages. The method relies on the assumption that when learning a second or additional language, language is internalized through a process of codebreaking similar to first language development and that the process allows for a long period of listening and developing comprehension prior to production. Students respond to commands that require physical movement. TPR is primarily used by ESL/EAL teachers, although the method is used in teaching other languages as well. The method became popular in the 1970s and attracted the attention or allegiance of some teachers, but it has not received generalized support from mainstream educators.

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Total Physical Response

Magdalena Krstevska

References Learning Another Language Through Actions by James J. Asher Instructor's Notebook: How to Apply TPR for Best Results by Ramiro Garcia TPR World http://www.tpr-world.com/ TPR Storytelling http://www.tprstorytelling.com/ "The Total Physical Response Approach to Second Language Learning" by James J. Asher. The Modern Language Journal, Vol. 53, No. 1 (Jan., 1969), pp. 3-17 "The Learning Strategy of the Total Physical Response: A Review" by James J. Asher The Modern Language Journal, Vol. 50, No. 2 (Feb., 1966), pp. 79-84 "The strategy of the total physical response: an application to learning Russian" by JJ Asher "Integrating Total Physical Response Strategy in a Level I Spanish Class" DE Wolfe, G Jones - Foreign Language Annals, 1982 "Total Physical Response: Commands, not Control" William J. Celestino Hispania, Vol. 76, No. 4 (Dec., 1993), pp. 902-903 Richards, Jack C.; Rodgers, Theodore S. (2001). Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching. Cambridge University Press; 2 edition. pp. 7272. ISBN 978-0521008433. http://www.amazon.com/Approaches-MethodsLanguage-Teaching-Cambridge/dp/0521008433/. Zink de Diaz, Laura (2005). "TPR Foreign Language Instruction and Dyslexia". http://www.dyslexia.com/library/tprlanguage.htm. Retrieved 2007-05-23. "Total Physical Response: An Instructional Strategy for Second-Language Learners Who Are Visually Impaired." by P. Conroy Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, v93 n5 p315-18 May 1999 "The Total Physical Response known world-wide as TPR" by James J. Asher, Ph.D. 22

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"Total Physical Response Storytelling: A Communicative Approach to Language Learning" V Marsh - TPRS Publications Inc

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