Total Physical Response (TPR)

Reading Strategies for Language Learners: Levels 1-2.9

TPR (Asher, 1979)

Why and when to use TPR: The purpose of TPR is to provide students with limited vocabulary in the target language and opportunity to learn language necessary to communicate through physical action and kinesthetic connections.  TPR can take place in a number of instructional settings: whole class instruction, strategic small group, or individual reading/writing conferences or support.  While it is most often used with language and vocabulary that involve commands, it has been very effective when included in the support of other language and vocabulary, as well.  The extent of the need and the language levels of your students should help to decide the appropriateness of the strategy with proficiency levels 1-2 in most need of visual and kinesthetic connections to build word and concept knowledge as measured by ACCESS.

How to use TPR: The teacher gives an oral command (usually an action) to a group of students and models the appropriate kinesthetic response e.g., “pass your paper to the front”, “copy the sentence from the board”, “open your books”.  Eventually, the teacher is able to give the oral commands without modeling as students learn how to respond appropriately with the action desired by the teacher. When students can respond to the command appropriately, the teacher has the formative assessment needed to move on to the next command or language development goal. In another modification, students are introduced to a new concept, e.g. love.  The students learn to associate a kinesthetic response that allows them to understand the idea behind the word. Students might learn to put their hand over their heart and smile as a kinesthetic response to the new concept.