WHAT IS TOTAL PHYSICAL RESPONSE? TPR is a language teaching method in which learners listen to instructions in the target language, and carry out a sequence of physical actions. This is based on the belief that second language is learned most effectively in the early stages if the pressure for production is taken off the learners.
PRINCIPLES IN WHICH TPR WAS BASED James Asher, the proponent of this method, derived three principles from his beliefs about the nature of first language acquisition. 1. Stress comprehension rather than production 2. Obey the “here and now” principle 3. Comprehension by listening to and carrying out instructions couched in the imperative
CRITICAL ELEMENTS IN LANGUAGE ACQUISITION1. Listening skill is far in advance of speaking.2. Children acquire listening skill in a particular way3. Listening skill may produce a “readiness” for the child to speak.
CLAIMS IN WHICH TPR WAS BASED Asher claimed that the fastest and least stressful way to achieve understanding of any target language is to follow directions uttered by the instructor (without native language translation).
KEY COMPONENTS OF TPR Movement as memory enhancer Use of imperatives as the method of instruction
MAIN PRINCIPLES OF TPR Meaning in the target language can often be conveyed through actions. Memory is activated through learner response. The target language should be presented in chunks, not just word by word. The students’ understanding of the target language should be developed before speaking.
MAIN PRINCIPLES OF TPR Students can initially learn one part of the language rapidly by moving their bodies. Imperatives are powerful linguistic device through which the teacher can direct student behavior. Students can learn through observing actions as well as by performing the actions themselves.
MAIN PRINCIPLES OF TPR It is very important that students feel successful. Students should not be made to memorize fixed routines. Corrections should be carried out in an unobtrusive manner. Students must develop flexibility in understanding novel combinations of target language chunks.
MAIN PRINCIPLES OF TPR Language learning is more effective when it is fun. Spoken language should be emphasized over written language. Students will begin to speak when they are ready.
MAIN PRINCIPLES OF TPR Students are expected to make errors when they first begin speaking. Teachers should be tolerant of them. Work on the fine details of the language should be postponed until students have become somewhat proficient.
FEATURES OF TPR YES NOComprehensible input Language as meaningLanguage as structures and vocabularyLanguage learning: association of Conscious reflection and analysis ofstimulus-response through physical action linguistic structuresUnconscious acquisition Conscious learningSilent period Immediate productionInput before output Deductive learning and explanation ofInductive learning structuresTeacher as leader in the classroom Learners are active participants in learning processActivities designed to reduce affective filter Stressful situations leading to anxietyUse of imperatives
THEORIES INCORPORATED IN THE METHOD Childhood language acquisition theories Natural order hypothesis The right brain – left brain divide (“brain switching”) Lowering stress and affective filter
PHASES OF TPR INSTRUCTIONModeling by the instructor T. says command and performs action T. says command; students and T. perform actionDemonstration by the learner T. says command, students perform action T. says commands in a random order and random combination, students perform action
LEARNERS’ ROLES Listeners and performers Imitators of the teacher’s nonverbal model Monitor and evaluate their own progress
TEACHER’S ROLES Director of all students’ behaviors Decides what to teach Serves as model of the target language Presents the new material Selects supporting materials for classroom use
SOME STRATEGIES IN USING TPR Role Reversal Students command their teacher and classmates to perform some actions. Asher says that students will want to speak after ten to twenty hours of instruction, although some students may take longer. Students should not be encouraged to speak until they are ready.
SOME STRATEGIES IN USING TPR Action Sequence (or Operation) The teacher gives three connected commands. Example: The teacher tells the students to point to the door, walk to the door, and touch the door. As the students learn more and more of the target language, a longer series of connected commands can be given, which together comprise a whole procedure.
SOME STRATEGIES IN USING TPR Action Songs Storytelling Use of novel utterances
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONSHow do you cope with abstraction without using translation?A: Abstractions are simply vocabulary items that can be incorporated in several different ways. It is recommended to delay first the teaching of abstraction until a large amount of structure in the TL has been assimilated with concrete vocabulary items.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONSIs any homework assigned?A: Usually not, but this does not mean that it is inadvisable. Through trial-and-error, each instructor discovers what mix of activities produces the best results.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONSAre there any teacher preconceptions which could block the successful application of this strategy?A: There are three: (1) illusion of simplicity, (2) tendency to be over-ambitious for students, and (3) narrow tolerance for errors in speaking
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONSWhat about the transfer of learning from listening understanding to reading for people who cannot read in their native language?A: The transfer will probably be zero. Apparently it is necessary to have prior skill in the orthography of one’s native language before there is transport from listening skill in the second language to reading and writing.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONSHow can imperative improve pronunciation?A: The students, during a long time period of silent acting when the teacher utters a command, are internalizing a model of the target language which helps the students monitor and self-correct the individual’s own speech.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONSCan production be taught?A: Production can be shaped, but not directly taught. There are three reasons for the radical conclusion that production cannot be taught: 1. In first language acquisition, speech always lags behind listening comprehension 2. Puberty is a critical factor which determines whether one will achieve near-native pronunciation in L2 3. Individual differences
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONSDo you correct mistakes that students make in production?A: Yes, but since we operate on a developmental theory to explain production, our feedback is modeled after the feedback which parents give to children learning their first language.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONSHow does this method compare and contrast with the Silent Way?A: Both methods use commands to manipulate the students’ behavior. One difference is the point in training when students produce spoken language. In the Silent Way, an attempt is made to fine tune pronunciation immediately. In TPR, there is a delay in production until students indicate readiness to speak.
ASSESSING TPR: ADVANTAGES It is a lot of fun. Learners enjoy it, and this method can be a real stirrer in the class. It lifts the mood of the class. It is very memorable. It does assist students to recognize phrases or words. It is good for kinesthetic learners who are required to be active in the class. It also taps the visual and auditory skills of the learners.
ASSESSING TPR: ADVANTAGES It can be used both in large or small classes. In this case, the class size does not matter that much. As long as you are prepared to take the lead, the learners will follow. It works well with mixed-ability classes. The physical actions get across the meaning effectively so that all the learners are able to comprehend and apply the target language.
ASSESSING TPR: ADVANTAGES There is no need to exert a lot of time for the preparation of materials using the TPR. It involves the use of both left and right brain in learning.
ASSESSING TPR: LIMITATIONS Students who are not used to such things might find it embarrassing. It is only suitable for beginner levels. This method holds stronger in teaching non-abstract vocabulary items and is unsuccessful in teaching abstracts which are acquired at advanced levels. It gives priority to receptive skills, mainly listening, at the expense of productive skills. Very less effort is expected from the learner.
ASSESSING TPR: LIMITATIONS It assumes that stress hinders the process of language acquisition denying the fact that positive stress, as explained in some literature, is considered sometimes crucial in learning processes. Grammatical features and vocabulary items are selected not according to their frequency of need or use in the target language situations, but according to the situations in which they can be used in the classroom and the ease with which they can be learned.
ASSESSING TPR: LIMITATIONS The method is time consuming. Learning a single vocabulary item, for example, would require the demand or imperative of the teacher, the students demonstration, and teachers feedback. It usually involves the whole class participating in learning one single item. Yet, the results would be expected to be more fruitful and lasting than it is with other methods.
REFERENCESAsher, J. (1979). Learning Another Language through Actions. Los Galos, CA: Sky Oaks Productions.Neupane, G. (2008). Act, Don’t Explain: Total Physical Response at Work. Journal of NELTA, 13 (1-2), 80-86.Nunan, D. (2009). Second Language Teaching and Learning. Pasig City: Cengage Learning.Adelman, B., Price, E., and Silver, M. (2003). Total Physical Response: A Curriculum for Adults. St. Louis, MO: English Language and Literacy Center.Widodo, H. (2005). Teaching Children Using a Total Physical Response (TPR) Method: Rethinking. Bahasa Dan Seni, 33 (2), 236-248