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Total Physical Response . Dr. Chen Chin-fen . Introduction . TPR, Total Physical Response approach, founded by Dr. James J. Asher in 1970’s is based on the premise that the human brains have a biological program for acquiring any natural language on earth.

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total physical response

Total Physical Response

Dr. Chen Chin-fen

  • TPR, Total Physical Response approach, founded by Dr. James J. Asher in 1970’s is based on the premise that the human brains have a biological program for acquiring any natural language on earth.
  • The learning process is visible as infants internalize their first language through body conversation.
process of nl acquisition
Process of NL Acquisition
  • At the beginning, Infants imprint the patterns and sounds of the target language in their minds. After the child decoded enough of the target language, speaking appears spontaneously.
  • At first, the infant’s speech might not be perfect, but gradually the child’s utterance will approximate more and more that of a native language.
four basic theories
Four Basic Theories
  • Trace theory : The oral repeat, gesture or body action can help the recall or association of memory.
  • Imperatives: The language that kids contact most before they speak is the imperative that parents said. Thus Asher asserted that the adult should learn imperatives first.
four basic theories1
Four Basic Theories
  • Emotion: Asher thought emotion affected the result of learning, and in the process of learning, the tension should be lowered to promote learning effects.
four basic theories2
Four Basic Theories
  • Comprehension Approach: Comprehension should be formed before production. So, listening ability should be trained first in language teaching. Only after the students have developed cognitive listening ability can teachers start to train their oral expression ability.
  • Using comprehension as a means to speaking.
  • 1. To clarify meaning, the teacher issues commands then performs the actions alone. Learners just listen and do nothing
  • 2. Teachers issues the commands and learners demonstrate that they can understand the command by performing the actions.
  • 3. Switch roles and students give the commands.
  • Using imperatives to direct behavior: The main technique to teach TPR
  • 1. Imperatives is a powerful tool that can be used to guide students to understand as it manipulates their behavior. The actions will make the meaning of the imperatives clear.
  • 2. Imperatives is an easy way to promote students to move about and to loosen up.
  • Movement and action sequences
  • Skills in SLA can be more rapidly assimilated if the teacher appeals to learners’ kinesthetic-sensory system. So understanding and retention is best achieved through total movement of the learners’ bodies in response to command sequences. For example: Take out a pen-Take out a piece of paper – Write a letter – Fold the letter – Put in the envelop – Seal it – Write the address.
  • Role Reversal :The teacher interacts with the entire class through oral commands, to which they provide physical responses. After 10 to 20 hours of instruction, students begin to speak and they can also command their teacher and classmates to perform some actions. But students should not be encouraged to speak until they are ready.
tpr mi


(listen & speak)

  • TPR


(perform actions)


(link up sequence)

Interpersonal /social

(Role reversal)

Visual spatial

(charts, samples,


  • Long-term memory: intensive listening, physical actions and response make learning more impressive.
  • Stress free-like playing a game, interesting & comprehensible input
  • High speed: instant understanding
  • Suitable for all levels
  • Useful for newly arrived ESL students – direct and visual instruction
  • TPR is magical to jump start people of all ages into the target language but repetitive practice will tire the learners.
  • It can not do entire job of language and need to cooperate with such other methods: The use of language background and pictures, telling stories, extensive reading and sheltered subject matter teaching (content-based)
is it hard of course not

Is it hard? Of course not!