Recurrent Action Grammar
Acquisition and Fluency
in the TPR Classroom
Elizabeth Kuizenga Romijn
Recurrent Action Grammar
Repetition and Context
It is a method of repeating grammar lessons weekly, each time in a different context, in order to reinforce
the grammar in the context of each new lesson.
Recurrent Action Grammar uses contextual situations, often with props. What is meant by context here
is language in relation to physical activities in real time. Something is actually happening in the
classroom, and the teacher and students refer to the action in the present progressive tense if the action is
occurring at the same time that it is being spoken of, in the future if the action is being planned for later
on, and in the past tense if the action is already completed. With Recurrent Action Grammar, exercises
are strictly in context! This ensures that the words being uttered are always meaningful and
communicative, and contribute to true language acquisition every time.
While most language courses have a different vocabulary and a different set of grammar points to be
studied in each chapter or unit, Recurrent Action Grammar repeats the exercise of each grammar point
in subsequent chapters, but each time in the context of a new situation with new vocabulary. This
consistent repetition of the grammar points as comprehensible aural input ensures actual acquisition of
them, rather than merely learning about them.
Begin with Vocabulary
Introduction of the Action Series
1. Setting the Scene—so students understand where they are, who they are.
2. Initial demonstration of series—may be the whole class, or one student responding to the teacher's
imperatives. Makes a strong impression, a vivid image in the students' minds.
3. Group live action—students all respond to the commands—actively use and experience the language
without being required to speak
4. Written copy—students see the words written (omit for preadolescents). Strikes students with how much
English they have just understood.
5. Oral repetition and question/answer period—pronunciation practice—students are motivated by
context to focus in and understand and pronounce each word well.
6. Students producing, teacher or other students responding to imperatives—teachermonitored.
7. Pairpractice—students experience the power of communicating in English and having their
utterances acted upon by another person; something actually occurs in response to their English.
Present Progressive Tense
Pantomime, without props, various actions from the series, having the students guess what you're trying
to depict: "What am I doing?' Then call on individuals to show one of the actions, without talking ("Show
me another action from the lesson.") Once they get the hang of the game and are responding well, point
out the formation and meaning of this tenseinterrogative and declarative forms.
Don't!—Declarative, interrogative, negative forms, contrasted with affirmative and
Teacher: Go to the produce section.
Students: [pantomimes walking, pushing grocery cart]
Teacher: Don't go to the bathroom!
Students: I'm not going to the bathroom!
Teacher: Where are you going?
Students: I'm going to the produce section.
Going to Future
Ask six students to go to the grocery store again. This time assign different steps of the action series to
each one. "But not yet; wait a minute." Ask five to go to the produce section, one to choose some fruit,
another to put it in the cart, the third to choose some vegetables, the fourth to weigh them, and the fifth to
put some back. Then ask the sixth student to go to the dairy section to choose some eggs. Finally have all
six stand in line at the checkout, one to say hello to the cashier and one to pay. Ask a seventh student to
be the cashier who will bag the groceries.
Next, ask the students "Who's going to go to the produce section? Who's going to go to the dairy section?
Who's going to choose some eggs, some fruit, some vegetables? Who's going to weigh them? Who's going
to pay for the groceries?" etc.
Or, "What is (Selma) going to do?"
Continue to discuss this plan for the future, then follow with a dictation of the questions and answers
and pair practice. Finally, to create the realtime context, have the seven students actually go thru
Ask similar questions in the past tense about the actions of these same seven students: "Who chose
some vegetables? Who said hello to the cashier? Who bagged the groceries?" etc.
Or, "What did (Ysaac) do?"
Again, follow this with a dictation and pair practice.
Conversation about the students' lives
Ask students conversationally how often they go to the grocery store, how often they buy fruit, chicken,
eggs, etc. Also "What kind of fruit do you buy? How much milk? What other groceries do you buy?" etc.
Other Grammatical Forms
Stack various grocery items on top of each other, placing some in front of others, under, on, between, etc.
Then ask "Where is the milk What's between the bananas and the broccoli? etc.
Ask students how much coffee they have at home, or how many apples they bought yesterday. Have
them ask each other about other food they have at home. If the students are high beginners, ask who has
more/less, or more/fewer, based on their answers to the former questions.
Different action series lend themselves to different grammar points, but whatever you have introduced in
one context can be considered for subsequent contexts or series, and most grammar points can be gotten
back to, if not repeated with every single series.
Additional Materials Available at
Command Performance Language Institute
LIVE ACTION ENGLISH
by Elizabeth Kuizenga Romijn and Contee Seely
LIVE ACTION ENGLISH INTERACTIVE
Software for beginners, based on the text Live Action English;
TPR on a Computer!
in two levels
by Elizabeth Kuizenga Romijn