An ELT Glossary : TPR/Total Physical Response

  • Definition : A method developed for use in the first 60 hours of a beginners course, whose primary (but not sole) activity type is that the T demonstrates language which the Ss show they understand by responding physically to commands or descriptions of activities rather than by speaking. 
  • Example : to consolidate understanding of the present continuous the T. might say : If you're wearing blue socks, stand up. If you're holding a pen, go to the door. etc. If the learners who are wearing blue socks stand up and the others don't, the T. knows they have understood the target language.
  • Example : Other activities might include eg silently acting out a story as the T tells it. The ls show they understand by doing the activities iincluded in the story. if eg the story says - John looked under the chair and pulled out a package... the learner assigned the role of John looks under his chair and mimes pulling out a package. 
  • The method was developed by Asher and is linked to the theories of Krashen, in particular the idea that learners need exposure to "roughly tuned input" to aid acquisition and that beginners need a "silent period" where they understand, but are not forced into speaking before they're ready (which, in Krashen's terms, might "raise the affective filter" and be detrimental to learning.)

Recommended Reading

Richards and Rodgers, Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching, CUP