Total Physical Response (TPR)

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Total Physical Response (TPR)

Postby reineke » Tue Feb 26, 2019 6:13 pm

Total Physical Response (TPR)

"Total physical response (TPR) is a language teaching method developed by James Asher, a professor emeritus of psychology at San José State University. It is based on the coordination of language and physical movement. In TPR, instructors give commands to students in the target language with body movements, and students respond with whole-body actions.

The method is an example of the comprehension approach to language teaching. The listening and responding (with actions) serves two purposes: It is a means of quickly recognizing meaning in the language being learned, and a means of passively learning the structure of the language itself. Grammar is not taught explicitly but can be learned from the language input. TPR is a valuable way to learn vocabulary, especially idiomatic terms, e.g., phrasal verbs.

Asher developed TPR as a result of his experiences observing young children learning their first language. He noticed that interactions between parents and children often took the form of speech from the parent followed by a physical response from the child. Asher made three hypotheses based on his observations: first, that language is learned primarily by listening; second, that language learning must engage the right hemisphere of the brain; and third, that learning language should not involve any stress.

Total physical response is often used alongside other methods and techniques. It is popular with beginners and with young learners, although it can be used with students of all levels and all age groups."





https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Total_physical_response
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Re: Total Physical Response (TPR)

Postby Lawyer&Mom » Tue Feb 26, 2019 8:32 pm

We did this at my Uni for beginning German. Probably only the first week or so, but the class was taught 100% in German and we had to start somewhere! So, “stand up,” “raise your hands,” “spin around” etc. Instructor demonstrated and we all followed along. It was fun!
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Re: Total Physical Response (TPR)

Postby Iversen » Tue Feb 26, 2019 8:35 pm

I would add my own physical response: to leave the room as fast as possible
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Re: Total Physical Response (TPR)

Postby languist » Tue Feb 26, 2019 9:35 pm

I love it for teaching children! I broadly agree with the idea that we should learn the bulk of the language through experience and play anyway, but of course it’s even more relevant to children. This kind of approach doesn’t really work with teaching adults in the long term, but I think every language course for children should use this, including the first few classes for older children, if only to emphasise that a language is used for practical communication, not only as a subject to be studied in school.

In fact, for the first lesson with a group of children I don’t even like to teach the actual language. First, we make fools of ourselves and use nonsense language to communicate meaning, to demonstrate the idea that learning a language is, by nature, kind of silly (forcing your mouth to make new shapes and noises), and also accessible - you can discover the meaning through context if you try! The learning of the real words attached to those contexts then comes through exposure and repetition. I guess it works for adults too, but that they would feel too awkward and are usually learning concepts far above the scope of this method.
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Re: Total Physical Response (TPR)

Postby zenmonkey » Tue Feb 26, 2019 11:34 pm

Makes me think of Prof. A.'s Shadowing technique which had a physical component.
Also makes me think of shokeling during the study of the Talmud.

I consider that an emotional and or physical response helps memory retention so sometimes when I'm practicing a language I will shake a fist, make bird head movements, flap my arms, high five, pump my fist or yell out (and no, I do not have any neuro-motor reasons to be doing that, I'm as neuro-typical as vanilla ice cream). Either that or I'm lying down with my eyes closed. But I can tell you that in the car, driving around town doing Pimsleur I've gotten some strange looks.

I also apparently have created a giant black hole of shameful behaviour for my kids. I sort of enjoy that aspect too.
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Re: Total Physical Response (TPR)

Postby StringerBell » Tue Feb 26, 2019 11:48 pm

When I learn a new verb in another language, I try to "do it" while saying the word. So if I'm trying to learn a verb that means "to step backward", I take a step backward while I'm saying it out loud. Or I say the verb "to smile" while I'm smiling. It feels stupid to do, but it works really well.
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Re: Total Physical Response (TPR)

Postby Cainntear » Wed Feb 27, 2019 12:26 am

I never read the primary research on this, but I've been told that studies on people who went through TPR found that they overused imperative forms in their target language and were perceived as rude. The findings seemed pretty unsurprising and uncontroversial, so I never saw a need to look it up.

Which isn't to say that TPR is bad, just that you should only use it for a very limited time as part of a much broader programme. The same is true of almost every technique in teaching: one technique does not make a method.
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Re: Total Physical Response (TPR)

Postby romeo.alpha » Wed Feb 27, 2019 10:12 am

Cainntear wrote:I never read the primary research on this, but I've been told that studies on people who went through TPR found that they overused imperative forms in their target language and were perceived as rude. The findings seemed pretty unsurprising and uncontroversial, so I never saw a need to look it up.

Which isn't to say that TPR is bad, just that you should only use it for a very limited time as part of a much broader programme. The same is true of almost every technique in teaching: one technique does not make a method.


Two ideas come to mind to moderate this. One is to describe it. Teacher first says "I stand up" and stands up, students all stand up and teacher says "we stand up" (and eventually stood up and so on). The other would be to include "please" or "let's" or an equivalent with all imperatives. In some languages formulating the instruction as a question, or making use of the subjunctive could work as well.
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Re: Total Physical Response (TPR)

Postby Cainntear » Wed Feb 27, 2019 7:45 pm

romeo.alpha wrote:
Cainntear wrote:I never read the primary research on this, but I've been told that studies on people who went through TPR found that they overused imperative forms in their target language and were perceived as rude. The findings seemed pretty unsurprising and uncontroversial, so I never saw a need to look it up.

Which isn't to say that TPR is bad, just that you should only use it for a very limited time as part of a much broader programme. The same is true of almost every technique in teaching: one technique does not make a method.


Two ideas come to mind to moderate this. One is to describe it. Teacher first says "I stand up" and stands up, students all stand up and teacher says "we stand up" (and eventually stood up and so on).

Except that that is situationally very weird, because you're not actually modelling any real world language use, meaning the purpose of the grammatical structures is not clear.
It then becomes a vocabulary lesson, because the vocab is the only thing that is presented alongside the concept it genuinely represents.
The other would be to include "please" or "let's" or an equivalent with all imperatives. In some languages formulating the instruction as a question, or making use of the subjunctive could work as well.

It still focuses on far too narrow a range of grammatical functions for students to be expected to master the breadth of the language.

Don't get me wrong, I have used TPR-style techniques in class on various occasions, and I find them very helpful, particularly when teaching concepts like prepositions of place (e.g. Put the penguin in the box. Put the giraffe on the box. Put the cat under the box.)

As I said, no one technique can be a complete method, and no self-described TPR teacher ever does pure TPR. If I'm doing a TPR-style lesson, I will also add in questions of increasing complexity, starting with yes/no questions (is the penguin under the box?) and moving on to more open questions (where is the penguin?).
There's really no point trying to fight to make something fit the pattern that doesn't naturally fit, when there are plenty of other techniques that will better suit the language point being taught.
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Re: Total Physical Response (TPR)

Postby zenmonkey » Wed Feb 27, 2019 8:07 pm

Cainntear wrote:As I said, no one technique can be a complete method, and no self-described TPR teacher ever does pure TPR. If I'm doing a TPR-style lesson, I will also add in questions of increasing complexity, starting with yes/no questions (is the penguin under the box?) and moving on to more open questions (where is the penguin?)


Heck, even I do TPR style stuff with my daughters - Cat in the Hat was definitely read like that for ages... except I never called it TPR.
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