Total Physical Response (TPR) Method of Language Learning

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The Resurgence of Total Physical Response

Though it was developed in the 1970s by James Asher, TPR is still a very popular method and seems to have been recently rediscovered in the modern language classroom. In this method, the teacher presents a new vocabulary word with an action that students repeat: for example, to teach the verb cry, teacher would pretend to cry while saying the word, which students would then mirror. TPR is often used with teaching children, and the teacher often builds up a story using a series of vocabulary words.

TPR's influence in the Communicative Approach

An extremely useful part of TPR used in modern language teaching through Communicative Language Teaching is acting out vocabulary words so that students understand their meaning without automatically translating the word in their native language. Successful language teaching helps students step outside of their first language so that they can more effectively communicate in their new language. Translating from the student's native language is not only slower, but is also inaccurate because often a direct translation doesn't exist, the language structure is different, and phrases and sayings often very different. If students can learn cry by thinking of the action rather than translating from their own language, they are more likely to remember the word and will be faster and more effective in their new language.