Total Physical Response (TPR) is a language teaching method built around the coordination of speech and action; it attempts to teach language through physical (motor) activity. It is developed by James Asher.
Total Physical Response is linked to the “trace theory” of memory in psychology (Katona 1940), which holds that the more often or the more intensively a memory connection is traced, the stronger the memory association will be and the more likely it will be recalled.
Retracing can be done verbally (e.g., by rote repetition) and/or in association with motor activity. Combined tracing activities, such as verbal rehearsal accompanied by motor activity, hence increase the probability of successful recall. In a developmental sense, Asher sees successful adult second language learning as a parallel process to child first language acquisition. He claims that speech directed to young children consists primarily of commands, which children respond to physically before they begin to produce verbal responses.
Sv – R type Learning
“SV” refers to a verbal stimulus – a syllable, a word, a phrase, and so on. “R” refers to the physical movements the child makes in response to the verbal stimulus (or sv). The movement may involve touching, grasping, or otherwise manipulating some objects.
E.g., Mother may tell Adit (age 1) to get the ball. “Ball” is the “sv” and Adit’s action is the response.
Asher sees three processes:
- Children develop listening competence before they develop the ability to speak.
- Children’s ability in listening comprehension is acquired because children are required to respond physically to spoken language in the form of parental commands.
- Once a foundation in listening comprehension has been established, speech evolves naturally and effortlessly out of it.
Winitz’ (1981) belief that:
- Comprehension abilities precede productive skills in learning a language.
- The teaching of speaking should be delayed until comprehension skills are established.
- Skills acquired through listening transfer to other skills.
- Teaching should emphasize meaning rather than form, and
- Teaching should minimize learner stress.
Types of teaching and learning activities
Imperative are the major classroom activity in Total Physical Response. They are typically used to elicit physical actions and activity on the part of the learners.
New commands. These verbs are introduced.
Wash your hand,your face
Looking for a comb