Teacher Training : TPR in the primary classroom
What is TPR?
"Open your books!" What is the answer to this frequent instruction given by teachers? There is no correct linguistic response, the correct response is a physical action.
The basis of Total Physical Response is seen in every day, in every classroom, in every school, in every country around the world. It is based on the idea that the natural response to understanding a command is a physical response.
Physical responses have been used by teachers, particularly primary school teachers, for many thousands of years. "Stand up!" "Sit down!" "Clap your hands!" "Touch your nose!"
Everyone learns to comprehend much faster than they learn to produce. At any stage in the learning process, comprehension is about four times as great as production.
Children may not be able to give a linguistic response to your instructions but they can give a physical response. A child will be willing to demonstrate comprehension through a physical action long before he/she is willing to give a linguistic response. The use of real objects in the classroom and the use of picture flashcards allows the teacher and children to respond to language long before they can respond
The Physical Attitude
As you can see, there is nothing mysterious about TPR. The teacher exploits all opportunities to include a physical dimension in learning. This can extend from simple commands to making words from plasticine ‘snakes’. Children love touching things, particularly when they have a special texture. Children love movement and can learnlanguage through movement.
When you meet friends who are not teachers do they notice that you are ‘different’? Yes, they do, because you speak more slowly and clearly than other people. You use your facial expressions, your hands and your body to communicate your ideas. Why doyou do this? Because you are a good teacher!
You are physical in your communication, so encourage your children to be physical. As you plan your lessons, ‘Think Physical!’ Ask yourself "What can the children do?" Ask yourself how you can build in a physical dimension to their learning.
If you have the space in your classroom, it is very nice for the children to move around. But if your classroom is small and crowded, think what the children can do while they are sitting or standing at their desks.
So, what’s the secret?
The secret is simple. Physical responses are very good ways to respond to language
you have understood. Physical actions bring language to life and make it easier to
Total Physical Response techniques are very useful to teachers of young children particularly before they begin to read and write. TPR is useful for all learners and teachers.