Teaching English Overseas

What is TPR, and why TPR is so valuable when teaching in China? --TESOL in China.

TESOL in China

What is TPR, and why TPR is so valuable when teaching in China? 


A professor by the name of James Asher, designed a method to build a connection between words, and the reality that they represent. Bridging the gap between language, and physical movement. We call this TPR, which is the acronym for ‘Total Physical Response’.


For students, it’s an easy way to express language, by acting out or responding in movement, to the instruction from the teacher. This helps by quickly recognising meaning in the English language, and a means of passively learning the structure of the language. It is very common, in the beginner, and elementary level, but can be used to help teach students of all ages, and levels.


Games like “Simon Says”, and “Twister” are good examples of TPR, as students participate, by physically showing they understand the spoken instructions. These kinds of activities allow students to participate in the language classroom without fear of making mistakes.


“Simon Says” is a great game for beginner students, and perfect for online, and in class teaching. As you touch your nose, and say “Simon says, touch your nose”, the student is relating the word, to the feature, therefore students learn the meaning of the commands they hear by direct observation. This is just one of an infinite examples.


The goal for beginner levels is not to silent the students, but encourage just a little speech production. Incorporating humour makes it a little more fun, and enjoyable for the young ones, as does playing TPR games. Objects, puppets, and props are another great way of connecting actions, with words. A fun filled atmosphere is paramount, for the acquisition of the English language.


Ensure you demonstrate the action well, and clearly state the relative word, so the student can clearly understand the relation. Give the students time to respond, and use repetition.
TPR is great for acquisition, and a fun way to learn a language.


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