The ABC's of The Total Physical Response
For a solid understanding of the stress-free Total Physical Response approach to second language learning, I recommend that you start by reading Learning Another Language Through Actions by the originator of TPR, Dr. James J. Asher. Then follow-up with a fine book by Ramiro Garcia entitled Instructors Notebook: How To Apply TPR For Best Results.
Use the lessons in my book as a dramatic script in which you are the director of the play and your students are the actors. The important difference between your production and a Broadway play is that you are the only one who has read the script.
In the first act of the play, students should not see any of the directions you are uttering in the target language. As you make a smooth transition from lesson to lesson, I will cue you when to show students the directions in print.
You will need a variety of props for certain lessons. I have listed at the beginning of each lesson the props you will need to have on hand that day.
It is always a good idea to start every class with a review of the previous lesson as a warm up before introducing new material.
After listening comprehension, then what?
As understanding of the spoken language expands and expands, your students will be able to read without being aware that they are reading. The magic of TPR is that when the target language is internalized through body movements, students not only comprehend what you are saying but they comprehend what they see in print. This positive transfer from listening comprehension to reading is a huge saving in instructional time. Throughout my book, I guide your students into a smooth transition from listening fluency to reading without awareness.
Yes, this transfer from understanding the spoken words to reading works for languages that have a good phonetic fit-- that is, the language appears in print just like it sounds in speech such as, for example, Spanish or French. But, it also works for languages without a phonetic fit as when English speakers acquire Chinese, Japanese, Russian, Hebrew or Arabic. (For a complete discussion of this intriguing issue of transfer, please see the Most Often Asked Questions Chapter in Ashers Learning Another Language Through Actions.)
How about speaking?
After about ten to twenty hours of understanding the target language through physical movements, students spontaneously begin to speak in the new language. Speaking cannot be forced, but will appear naturally as a playful activity. And when speaking appears, it will not be perfect. There will be many errors. But if we are as tolerant of student errors as we are of infants acquiring their first language, gradually speech will shape itself in the direction of the native speaker.
How about writing?
As your students evolve from lesson to lesson, they will be writing without knowing that they are writing. In other words, we do not announce that, Now you will be writing! because this triggers resistance from the left brain which whispers sabotaging messages to the student such as, Oh, oh, this is something new! This will probably be difficult. You dont know how to write in this strange language. You will have trouble with this! (For a more sophisticated understanding of the right and left brain, read James J. Ashers book, Brainswitching: Learning on the Right Side of the Brain and The Super School: Teaching on the Right Side of the Brain.)
Heres how testing works so that the experience not only demonstrates comprehension, but is enjoyable for both the students and the instructor: I put several versions of each quiz on a strip of paper which I place in a hat. Then three or four students come into the room and each gets to reach in the hat for a slip of paper. Students enjoy having some control over the testing process.
Each student hands their strip of paper to me. I then read the commands and record the accuracy of each students performance. I note on paper any mistakes that have been made and grade it with points decided in advance. This saves time because the quiz is graded immediately before the student leaves the room. Another powerful advantage of this procedure is that each student gets immediate feedback. You will be surprised how few mistakes are made.
Testing Reading Comprehension
As you probably guessed, the testing procedure for reading is the same as I use for listening comprehension. That is, three or four students come into the room, select a strip of paper from the hat, look at what is written and follow each direction on the paper. I will be noting errors, if any, on the strip of paper.
Testing the entire class as a group
Realizing that many teachers have limited time for testing, I provide in my book, exams designed for administration to the entire class as a single group.
Your students are on their way to fluency, now what?
Best wishes for continued success,
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