Total Physical Response is one of the English teaching approaches and methods developed by Dr. James J Asher. It has been applied for almost thirty years. This method attempts to center attention to encouraging learners to listen and respond to the spoken target language commands of their teachers. In other words, TPR is a language teaching method built around the coordination of speech and action; it attempts to teach language through physical (motor) activity.
Asher’s Total Physical Response is a “natural method” since Asher views first and second language learning as parallel processes. He argues that second language teaching and learning should reflect the naturalistic processes of first language learning. For this reason, there are such three central processes:
a) Before children develop the ability to speak, they develop listening competence. At the early phases of first language acquisition, they are able to comprehend complex utterances, which they hardly can spontaneously
b) Produce or imitate. Asher takes into accounts that a learner may be making a mental blueprint of the language that will make it possible to produce spoken language later during this period of listening;
c) children’s ability in listening comprehension is acquired because children need to respond physically to spoken language in the form of parental commands; and
d) When a foundation in listening comprehension has been established, speech evolves naturally and effortlessly out of it.
Asher believes that it is crucial to base foreign language learning upon how children learn their native language. In other words, TPR is designed based upon the way that children learn their mother tongue. In this respect, TPR considers that one learns best when he is actively involved and grasp what he hears (Haynes, 2004; Larsen-Freeman, 1986; Linse, 2005).
REVIEWING THE PRINCIPLES
1. What are the goals of teacher who use Total Physical Response ?
Teacher who use TPR believe in the importance of having their students enjoy their experience in learning to communicate in a foreign language.
1. What is the role of the teacher? What is the role of the students?
Initially, the teacher is director of all students behavior. The students are imitators of her nonverbal model.
1. What are some characteristics of the teaching/learning process?
The first phase of a lesson is one of modeling. The instructor issues commands to a few students, then performs the actions with them. In the second phase, these same students demonstrate that they can understand the command by performing them alone.
1. What is the role of the students native language?
TPR is usually introduced in the student’s native language. After the introduction, rarely would the native language be used. Meaning is made clear through body movements.
1. How is language viewed? How is cultural viewed?
Just as with the acquisition of the native language, the oral modality is primary. Culture is the lifestyle of people who speak the language natively.
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.
Now that we have had a chance to experience a TPR class to examine its principles and techniques, you should try to think about how any of this will be of use to us in our own teaching. The teacher we observed was using TPR with grade 5 children; however, this same method has been used with adult learners and younger children as well.