Total Physical Response in Second Language Learning

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Last updated: April 21, 2019

Total Physical Response in a Beginning Language Class Contents: 1.

Shortly About Teaching Methodologies …..

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……. 32.

Introduction ………………………………………………………………… 33. Background of the TPR Approach …………………………………………34.

Approach …………………………………………………………………… 5 4. 1. Theory of Language ……………………………………………54. 2. Theory of Learning …………………………………………….

6 5. Why TPR Works? Brain Lateralization ……………………………………6 6. Goals of TPR Approach ……………………………………………………77. Strengths of TPR Approach ……………………………………………….. 78.

TPR Approach Vs. Comprehensive Approach ……………………………. 79.Principles ………………………………………………………………….. 8 10. Syllabus ……………………………………………………………………911.

Teacher and Learner Roles ……………………………………………….. 1012.

Techniques ……………………………………………………………….. 1013. The Role of Creativity ……………………………………………………1214. TPR Approach applied in the classroom …………………………………1215.

Bibliography ……………………………………………………………… 14 1.

Shortly About Teaching Methodologies Teaching English as a Foreign Language is a science and like all sciences has a set of principles upon which it is based. But unlike the better-known sciences such as biology, chemistry and physics, it is not objective or equation based in its approach.Therefore, Teaching English as a Foreign Language, like psychology and sociology, must rely on subjectivity in order to formulate its principles. These principles define the relationship between the teacher and the student or the student and other students.

In general, models of second-language learning can be divided into traditional and alternative approaches. An EFL teacher must “find him/herself” in the current approaches to teaching English, to incorporate their language-learning strategies and techniques into each of his/hers lessons, to experiment with and adapt his/her style of teaching. . Introduction TPR represents one of the Alternative Approaches to the second-language learning and teaching developed by James J. Asher, a professor of psychology at San Jose State University, California in the 1960s. This language teaching method includes theories of development psychology, humanistic pedagogy as well the dramatic or theatrical nature of language learning. The main idea od TPR is to introduce the language through the use of commands (imperative sentences) and has students demonstarte their understanding through action responses, individually and/or in groups.

The emphasis is on developing comprehension skills before the learner is required to produce in the target language. Though the language is presented and taught in the form of imperatives, most of the grammatical structures of the target language and hundreds of vocabulary items can be learned from the skillful use of the imperative by the instructor. The success of TPR instruction lies in applying the method correctly by the teacher, which means the teacher who is skilled, sensitive and comprehensive person can attribute the most to the quality learning.

. Background of the TPR approach A number of studies in US have shown that only less than 5% of students, who start in a second language – continue to proficiency. The fact that six-year-old children, who without schooling, have mastered all the essential parts of the native language (although more exposed to the language than the students), while so many students drop out, suggests that there is something in the way young children learn that is at least less stressful if not also more effective in other ways.In order to improve the way of teaching foreign languages and to solve the problems plaguing second-language learning, Asher has made some researches and investigations of the process of first-language learning and the relationship between language and movement. While he was analyzing the process of first-language learning, he noticed that the children pass through silent period before they begin to speak and he found that about 50% of adults’ utterances to children are commands. Taking these two factors and children’s language skills into account, he hypothesized that children can determine meaning by omprehending cause-and-effect relationship, by seeing changes that take place in their physical environment as a result of language use, and by understanding the relationship between the language used and the context of the situation.

The basic idea is that infants’ exposure to language is virtually inseparable from physical activities. People talk to them while tickling them, feeding them, playing with them. The infants are immersed in a language they do not speak, in an environment that they explore with every part of their body. Their parents and people who take care of them walk and talk them through activities.So, they learn lots of vocabulary while someone stands behind them in the bathroom, soaping their hands, holding them under warm water, rubbing or scrubbing, all the while talking about what they are doing and what it feels like.

In this way, movement and feeling are intimately tied to the process of internalizing the language. Therefore, Asher gives three critical elements in the way children learn their first language: 1. The process of learning begins with development of listening competence before they develop the ability to speak.At the early stages of first language learning they can understand complex utterances that they cannot spontaneously produce or imitate.

2. Children’s ability in listening comprehension is acquired because children are required to respond physically to spoken language in the form of parental commands. Most of the uttreances directed at an infant relate to actions, and more than 50% are in the form of commands such as: “Come here! ”, “Sit down! ” Look at Daddy! ” Through action and observation, the child’s whole body is involved in decoding the “noise” of speech into language. 3.

After a period of listening during which the child has internalized an adequate cognitive map of language through listening, the child him/herself begins spontaneously to produce utterances. Explanations of the process of first-language learning led Asher to his Total Physical Response Approach which is actually based on recreating the first language learning process in the second language classroom, because the human brain and nervous system are biologically programmed to acquire language in a particular mode. Asher sees first and second language learning as parallel processes.Second language teaching and learning reflect the naturalistic process of first language learning. In the process of employing the imperative drill in language teaching and developing comprehension skills before production, there is a use of incubation period (period of silence) which is necessary in order the learner to absorb and cognize the language in all its aspects. Therefore the language teaching should be based on the “natural basis” and active production (speaking and writing) and should never be encouraged or expected until the student has had many opportunities of cognizing the language passively (through listening and reading).

TPR is most effective in the early stages of language learning and Asher has stressed TPR should be used in association with other methods and techniques. 4. Approach 4. 1. Theory of language. The approach is based upon grammar-based views of language. Asher states that “most of the grammatical structure of the target language and hundreds of vocabulary items can be learned from the skillful use of the imperative by the instructor”. The verb in the imperative is the central linguistic motif around which language use and learning are organized.

The commands are used to teach anything beginning with focusing on prepositions to the conditional and subjunctive moods (e. g. , Marko would you prefer to serve a cold drink to Ana, or would you rather have Vladimir kick you in the leg? ). Since Asher considers second language learning as a parallel process to child language learning, the language contents are based on concrete nouns and imperative verbs, i. e.

nonabstractions, the immediate surrounding in the classroom. The teaching abstractions should be delayed until students have internalized a detailed cognitive map of the target language.Once students have internalized the language code, abstractions can be introduced and explained in the target language. Though the syllabus of TPR is structure-based and grammar-focused, the emphasis is on meaning rather than on form. Language is presented in chunks so that it would be internalized as wholes rather as single lexical items. In the early stages teachers similarly to parents should refrain from too much correction in order not to inhibit learners. 4.

2. Theory of learning. TPR takes its grounding in behavioral psychology.Asher sees a stimulus-response view as providing the learning theory underlying language teaching pedagogy.

To reinforce memorization TPR combines motor activity (fulfilling the commands after the teacher) and verbal rehearsal (listening to the teacher’s model and speaking out when one is ready to produce). Such combination can be labeled as an action-based drill in the imperative form. To justify development of listening comprehension before expecting any production from the student Asher uses the facts from the process of first language learning when children respond physically to spoken language in the form of parental commands.Only after a long silent period (from several months to two or three years) the child’s speech-production mechanism begins to function.

Asher also believes that second language teaching should be directed to the right brain hemisphere which is responsible for motor activities, while the left hemisphere (responsible for verbal processing) watches and learns. 5. Why TPR Works? Brain Lateralization According to Asher TPR is directed to right-brain learning, while most second language teaching methods are directed to left-brain learning.He refers to neurological studies of the brains of cats and studies of an epileptic boy whose corpus callosum was surgically divided. The brain is divided into hemispheres according to function, where language activities are centralized in the right hemisphere. But he claims that the child language learner acquires language through motor movement which is a right-hemisphere activity. Right-hemisphere activities must occur before the left hemisphere can process language for production.

Similarly, the adult should proceed to language learning through right-hemisphere motor activities, while the left hemisphere watches and learns. When a sufficient amount of right-hemisphere learning has taken place, the left hemisphere will be trigged to produce language and to initiate other, more abstract processes. 6. Goals of TPR Approach The general objectives of TPR are to teach oral proficiency at a beginning level. Another sub-goal of the method is to have students enjoy their xperience in learning a foreign language, to reduce the stress that people feel when studying foreign languages and thereby encourage them to persist in their study beyond a beginning level of proficiency.

7. Strengths of the TPR Approach -reduces stress -accelerates acquisition of the second language -results in improved long-term retention. 8.

TPR approach vs. Comprehensive approach Similarities: – Both approaches are cognitive oriented because they stress internalization of a “cognitive map” of the target language before asking students to produce utterances; – Both approaches stress meaningful learning; Both approaches recommended that students should not be required to talk before they are ready to talk; – Both approaches stress that students should comprehend everything that they hear; – Both approaches favor the silent period at the beginning of second-language learning. Differences: – TPR approach eliminates stress and is concerned with the affective domain – they have different techniques. TPR approach’s techniques (giving and performing commands) facilitate teachers’ establishing of meaning more than do the techniques recommended for the comprehension approach. Physical actions of the TPR approach promote long-term retention through psychomotor memory – Students use right hemisphere of the brain in acquiring second languages by acting out commands, while they use the left hemisphere in traditional approaches. 9. Principles ?Stimulating memory with psychomotor associations: Language in the form of the teacher’s commands is synchronized with body movements. According to Asher, this is the way to recreate the process by which children learn their first language.

Beginning foreign language instruction should address the right hemisphere of the brain, the part which controls nonverbal behavior. ?Comprehension before production: Students are not required to produce in the second language until they themselves decide that they are ready. Therefore students are allowed a silent period; an often lengthy period during which learners do not try to speak but they internalize the language by listening and comprehending it. Input (the new language material) is made comprehensible through listening and watching the teacher’s modeling of commands and later fulfilling these commands.

Lowering the student’s anxiety and stress reduction: This is achieved through the following: ostudents are not required to produce in the new language before they feel ready, othe teacher’s commands are often humorous in order to make language learning as enjoyable as possible, ostudents first perform the commands together with the teacher and in groups, oearly error correction is very unobtrusive and mistakes are allowed in the classroom at the beginning period. ?Inductive teaching of grammar: The target language is presented in chunks and the focus is on meaning rather than on form. Unobtrusive error correction in the early stages: Asher believes that it is more important to let the students just talk in order to lower their anxiety about making mistakes. Once their confidence in speaking is high they can be fine tuned to produce the subtleties of speech that approximate the native speaker. Moreover, Asher states that the emphasis on error-free production and correct form is risky and if done so most children and adults will give up before reaching even the intermediate level. Selection of grammatical features and vocabulary items from the immediate classroom surroundings: These are the imperatives in the first place and concrete nouns.

With imagination, almost any aspect of the linguistic code for the target language could be communicated using commands. E. g.

, the future and present tenses can be embedded into a command as, “When Petar walks to the window, Marija will write Petar’s name on the blackboard! ”; Abstract nouns are presented at the later stages once the students are ready to decode the grammatical structure of a language. 0. Syllabus The TPR syllabus i s sentence-based with grammatical and lexical criteria being primary in selecting teaching items. Grammar structures and vocabulary are selected according to their frequency of need or use in the classroom and the ease with which they can be learned. Advocating the use of the imperative, Asher states that it should be used in combination with many other techniques. A TPR course begins with about ten to twenty hours of training in listening comprehension. Only after it the students are invited (but not pressured! to reverse roles with the teacher and speak out the commands in the target language.

TPR lessons are structured in the following way: oDemonstration: the students sit in a semicircle around the teacher, they listen carefully to his/her commands and do exactly what the teacher does. The students are encouraged to respond without hesitation and to make a distinct, robust response with their bodies. The first routine could be “Stand up! Walk! Stop! Turn! Sit down! ” oThe routine is repeated for three or four times until individual students indicate that they are ready to try it alone without th einstructor as a model.Each repetition of a routine is never an exact duplication of the previously done sequence. oThe instructor recombines the previously learned material to form novel commands.

When some of the students are ready to produce in the target language, they give commands to the teacher and the other students. 11. Teacher and Learner roles The teacher plays an active and direct role in TPR. He/she decides what to teach, who models and presents the new materials, and who selects supporting materials for classroom use.The teacher usually initiates the interaction, even when learners interact with each other.

According to Asher, the instructor is the director of a stage play in which the students are the actors. At first learners are listeners and performers of the teacher’s commands. When they are ready to speak there is a role reversal and students themselves speak out commands. Yet, they have little influence over the learning process: the content is predetermined by the teacher. 12. Techniques ?Using commands in action sequences: The use of commands is the major teaching technique of TPR.The teacher models the commands and performs the corresponding actions to make the meaning clear.

Students fulfil the commands (action-based drills) with th eteacher, individually and in groups. When they begin to speak they direct commands to the teacher and to each other. Commands are presented ina sequence, but as Asher suggests there should be no exact repetition of the same sequence and the teacher should each time vary the routine to avoid memorization of a fixed sequence of behavior. Commands should be funny and humorous to make the learning process enjoyable.E. g.

, “Ana, dance with Igor, and stick your tongue out at Sandra, run to Maya, hit her on the arm, pull her to her chair and you dance with Igor! ” The teacher should also plan sequences of commands in advance to keep the pace of the lesson lively. Commands are used, as Asher claims, to communicate all grammar features and hundreds of vocabulary. Commands can be subdivided into the following groups: ? Moving whole bodu or parts of body: Stand, walk, sit, jump, run, etc. ; Touch your feet, head, shoulders, etc.

Moving things (manipulatives): Put the book under the chair; Point to the purple paper; Pick up the eraser and put it on ypur feet; Set the clock to 2:00. ?Moving abstractions/pictures: Put the picture of the cookie on the table; Put the picture of the principal in the picture of the office; Give the card labeled ‘Sunday’ to Ana; Pick up the card labeled ‘Monday’ and put it next to the cars labeled ‘Thursday’. ?Action sequences (series of commands or operations): Action sequences are based on numerous everyday activities, like writing a letter, cleaning the house, eating breakfast, etc. that are broken down into separate commands, e. g. Eating Grapes: -Look at the grapes. -Turn on the water. -Put the grapes under the water.

-Wash the grapes. -Don’t use soap. -Shake the grapes dry. -Pick a grape. -Give it to a friend. -Pick another grape. -Chew it.

-Swallow it. ?Role reversal: When students are ready to speak, they command their teacher and classmates to perform some actions. ?Conversational dialogues and role plays: These are delayed until after about 120 hours of instruction, when students achieve an advanced internalization of the target language.Role plays center on everyday situations, such as at the restaurant, supermarket, or petrol station.

?Slide presentation: These are used to provide a visual center for teacher narration, which is followed by commands, and questions to students, such as, “Which person in the picture is the salesperson? ?Compiling language experience stories: A language experience story is a group-authored story written about a shared experience. Students participate in an experience such as a cooking activity, and then retell or dictate the story to the teacher who writes it down on the blackboard.The students read the story and act out th ewritten sentences. 13. The Role of Creativity The TPR instruction is highly creative, for both the teacher and the students. The teacher must overcome her/his training in the structure of the language and design activities that the learning brain perceives as real and interesting. Within these real experiences, students are free to generate all kinds of expressions using the language they are studying, and to lead instruction in unique directions.Often students do not realize how much they are learning while they are engaged in a TPR activity.

They think they are just having fun creating all kind of new utterances and situations in the active environment in the room. This creativity, the synthetic rather than analytic experience, the low stress, and generally accepting environment engineered by the teacher, are a large part of the reason so many students, including students with learning challenges, find TPR classes so effective and enjoyable. 14.Total Physical Response Approach applied in the classroom In a TPR classroom, the focus is not on analysis of linguistic structures, but on internalizing those structures for unconscious use. Traditional foreign language instruction starts with the assumption that we can learn to understand, speak, read and write by analyzing the grammar and syntax of the target language: one did not need to learn grammar and syntax of his/her native language in order to learn to speak it. One learned those structures unconsciously as he/she learned to speak.

So, we do not consciously use grammar or syntax in understanding, speaking or reading – grammar and syntax are both structures that we study after we have become fluent speakers of our native language. We are more likely to make conscious use of this information to write or in situations where we must speak in formal register, but eventually, for most of us, the grammar we have internalized is just that, an internalized framework that we do not access consiously in order to communicate. When TPR strategies are used to teach, the goal is the students to be able to understand, speak, read and write the language, not “about” the language.

So analysis of language, learning terminology and all the many rules of a language form little or no part of a TPR-based curriculum. Those individuals who have a strong desire to know the language of grammarians, the rules and exceptions, can always find a class to satisfy that urge. TPR has been shown to be an effective and very natural way to approach language teaching and learning. The classes are active, neither students or the teacher seat all period.

The focus for the first weeks is on listening and moving in response to what the teacher says.The emphasis is on developing listening comprehension before production skills, because the larger students’ listening comprehension vocabulary is, the larger their vocabulary will become. The mode is synchronizing language with body movements.

The environment in which things happen and are talked about is purposely kept very free of stress, because the language is not acquired under stressful circumstances. The effect of learning is greater in happy circumstances, especially while everybody in the classroom is having fun.In most traditional second-language classes, the underlying organization of the course is a progression through the grammar and syntax rules of the language, from simple to complex. In a TPR class, grammar and syntax are not taught directly. Rather, the teacher designs activities that expose the student to language in context, especially in the context of some kind of movement. With enough exposure, the grammar and syntax of any language will be internalized by the students through synthesis, not analysis.

Typically, he initial TPR lessons are commands involving the whole body, such as: stand up, sit down, turn around, walk, stop… Those actions are demonstrated by the teacher, who then invites students to participate with her/him as she/he continues to say words. Fairly soon, the teacher quietly stops demonstrating, and the students relaize that they somehow just know what to do inresponse to the words. There is no translation and there is no cheating – the students are encouraged to look at what others are doing if they are not sure what to do.They are also encouraged to trust their body, because sometimes it knows what to do before the brain does. As class proceeds, nouns, adverbs, prepositions are added until before the students are aware of it. They are performing commands, like: stand up, walk to the door, open it, stick your tongue out, close the door, turn around, hop to Ana’s desk, kiss your right knee three times, lie down on Ana’s desk…In fairly short order, students begin to create their own commands and order one another around the room.

The atmosphere in the classroom should be a combination of laughter and learning.But it is not always commands. An expert TPR teacher canteach the indicative, all tenses, idiomatic expressions – everything covered in a traditional class, using these techniques and others that dovetail nicely to the students. It is important that the instruction is designed to facilitate language acquisition, not learning a language through analysis, memorization and application of rules. 15.

Bibliography Asher, J. J. (1982) Learning Another Language Through Actions: The Complete Teacher’s Guide Book, 2nd ed.Los Gatos, Calif. : Sky Oak Productions. Asher J. J. (1983) Learning a Second Language through Commands: The Second Field Test.

In J. W. Oller, JR and P. A. Richard-Amato (Eds. ), Methods That Work, Rowley, Mass. : Newbury House, pp. 59-71 Chaudron, C.

1988. Second language classroom. Cambridge Applied Linguistics. Cook, V. 1996. Second language learning and language teaching.

Longman. Ramiro Garcia. Instructor’s Notebook: How to apply TPR for Best Results. (4th edition).

Los Gatos, CA: Sky Oaks Productions, Inc.


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