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TPR is a language teaching method built around the coordination of speech and action.
It attempts to teach language through physical activity. It was developed by Dr. James Asher.
The method relies on the assumption that when learning a second or partner language, that
language is internalized through a process of code breaking similar to first language
development and that the process allows for a long period of listening and developing,
comprehension prior to production. In a developmental sense, Asher sees successful adult
second language learning as a parallel process to child first language acquisition. Besides,
Asher shares with the school of humanistic psychology a concern for the role of affective
(emotional) factors in language learning.

Theory of Language
TPR reflects a grammar-based view of language. Asher states that “most of the
grammatical structure of the target language and hundreds of vocabulary items can be learnt
from the skillful use of the imperative by the instructor”. (1977:4) He views the verb, and
particularly the verb in the imperative, as the central linguistic motif around which language
use and learning are organized.
Theory of Learning
Asher sees a stimulus-response view as providing the learning theory underlying
language teaching pedagogy. In psychology, it is also possible to link the TPR to the trace
theory. The more intensive of a memory connection is traced, the stronger the memory
association will be. Retracing can also be done verbally and in association with motor
Asher has elaborated an account of what he feels facilities or inhibits foreign language
learning. For the dimension of his theory, Asher suggests three hypotheses.
The bio-program:
Asher sees first and second language learning as parallel processes. Asher sees three
processes as central:
1- Children develop listening competence before they develop the ability to speak.
2- Children’s ability in listening comprehension is acquired.
3- After a foundation in listening comprehension is established, speech evolves
naturally effortlessly out of it.

Brain Lateralization
Adult should use right-brain motor activities, while the left hemisphere watches and
learns. Right hemisphere activities must occur before the left hemisphere can process
language for production.

Reduction of Stress
According to Asher, although the first language accusation takes place in a stress-free
environment, the adult language learning environment often causes considerable stress and n-
anxiety. Therefore, the key to stress free learning is to tap into the natural bio-program for
language development and thus to recapture the relaxed and pleasurable experiences that
accompany first language learning.

The design of Total Physical Response is composed of objective, syllabus, learning
activities, roles of teacher and students, and the instructional materials.

The general objective of Total Physical Response is to teach oral proficiency at a
beginning level. The ultimate aim is to teach basic speaking skills and comprehension.
Whatever are goals are set, they must be attainable with the use of action-based drills in the
imperative form.
Grammatical and lexical criteria are primary in selecting teaching items with the use of
sentence-based syllabus. Total Physical Response requires initial attention to meaning rather
than to form of items. Therefore, grammar is taught inductively.
The major classroom activity in TPR is imperative drills. They are composed of
physical actions and activity on the part of the learners. Role plays are about everyday
situations such as at the school, home or theatre. Other activity is slide presentation to use to
make students learn more easily. Using games and objects are also used to introduce new
vocabularies. Another activity is story telling in order to attract students’ attention.

Learners have the primary roles of listener and performer. They listen attentively and
respond physically to commands given by the teacher. Both individual and collective respond
is used by the students. Learners monitor and evaluate their own progress. They should be
encouraged to speak when they feel ready to speak.
Teachers are director and decider. They play an active role and direct role in TPR. The
teacher is a person who decides what to teach and selects supporting materials for classroom
use. Teachers should prepare detailed lesson plans to use the lesson effectively. The teacher
controls the language input the learners receive and provides the raw materials that the
learners will construct in their own minds. Teacher should follow the example of parents
giving feedback to their children. At first, parents correct very little, but as the child grows
older, parents are less tolerant for mistake. At the beginning, teacher should not interrupt in
order to correct errors, or else this can inhibit learners. As time goes on, teacher intervention
is expected.
There is generally no basic text in a TPR course. At the beginning, the teacher’s voice,
mimes and gestures may be sufficient basis for classroom activities. Later, the teacher can use
common classroom objects such as books, pens… As the lesson develops, the teacher makes
or collects supporting materials such as pictures, slides and word charts. Asher has developed
TPR students’ kits that focus on specific situations such as the home, supermarket… Students
may use the kits to construct scenes.
Review: this was a fast-moving warm up in which individual students were moved
with commands.
New commands: some words were introduced
the book
hold the cup
the soap
Asking simple questions: then the teacher asked simple questions which the students
could answer with a gesture such as painting.
Role reversal: students give commands the teacher and other students.
Reading and writing: the instructor wrote on the board each new vocabulary item and
sentence to illustrate them. Then she spoke each item and sentence. The students wrote the
information in their notebooks.

TPR makes students use their language in their daily life. It also helps them
accomplish to be successful. While the students are learning the target language, they have
chances to develop instant understanding of it. Moreover, students gain ability to keep the
information in their mind permanently. For the successful language acquisition, reduction of
stress is a very important process for both children and teachers. To make the students
understand the topics and the language perfectly, using alternative teaching strategies can be

As it is a type of method for only beginners, the adult learners have a disadvantage
while learning in this method. The reason why TPR is used generally for beginners is that
students learn the language with the objects, pictures and kits and they are treated as if they
don’t have prior knowledge. If there is a weakness to be found, it would have to be the
difficulty involved in TPR for the purpose of teaching abstract language. All of the things the
students learn are not “physical” and their thinking is not oriented around the visible physical
universe, so it can be a disadvantage for them. As the students try to be active, shy students
may have difficulty in the class, but if they use this method, they can develop themselves
among other students. Since the teachers use commands through students, they don’t have a
chance to express their thoughts and feelings.

TPR enhances listening and comprehension skills in both classroom environment and
daily life. Students have a chance to react with their “bodies as well as their brains”. This
method helps students internalize vocabulary in a perfect way and uses psychomotor systems
to teach vocabulary. Total Physical Response, also supports kinesthetic learning styles for the
disabled students. As the TPR is considered a right brain tool, it develops the right brain


The silent way is the name of a method of language teaching, designed by Caleb
Cattegno. It leads students to develop their own conceptual models of all the aspects of the
language. There are three hypotheses, Cattegno suggests:
Discovering and creating are more important than remembering and repeating while
developing the language.
With the use of physical objects, learning is developed.
Learning can be developed with the help of problem solving.

The theory of the language is the structural view o language. Students are presented
with the structural patterns of the target language and learn the grammar inductively.
Vocabulary is the spirit of the language and it is very crucial. Silence is considered the best
vehicle for learning. Silence is useful for alertness, concentration and mental organization.
The theory of language learning is cognitivist. Language learning is not habit but rule
formation. There is a sequence from known to unknown. Learning is inductive.

Giving beginning level student’s oral and aural proficiency and facility of the target
language is the general objective of this method.
In the target language, it is important to speak fluently, like a native or native-lie
The correct pronunciation of teacher is essential, also.
As the grammar is taught inductively, the teacher should give practical knowledge of
There is no linear syllabus. The teacher starts with what students already know and
builds from one structure to the next. According to the students’ learning needs, the syllabus
may develop.

There are some activities and tasks in this method. These activities encourage and
shapes student oral response.
Simple linguistic tasks mean that the teacher chooses a word, phrase or sentence and
draw out learners’ responses.
Charts- rods and other aids can also be used in the classroom.
There are some responses to commands and questions from teacher to students or
students to students.

They should actively take part in exploring the language. The most important role is
among students. Students can learn from each other. Students are responsible for their own
learning which means “the teacher works with the students and the students work on the

The teacher should be silent. Silence is a tool because teacher’s silence gives the
responsibility to the students and it also helps students improve their own inner criteria. The
teacher should respect to the students and relies on them (their knowledge) He can provide
them with related exercises and information while teaching.

All of the materials are used to illustrate the relationship between sound and meaning
in the target language. They are manipulated by both teachers and students. The model pointer
allows the teacher to link colors, graphemes or words together to focus on the quality of the
language. To take the attention of students, reading and writing activities can be used. The
pronunciation charts (Fidel) contain symbols in target language for all of the vowels and
consonant sounds, they are colored alike. The colored rods are used to link words and
structures and each rod has a specific color. Use of those rods is intended to promote
creativity- awareness of the students. The tools correspond to the theory and stem directly
from it.

At the beginning stage, the teacher should focus on the pronunciation of students. The
class might work on sounds, phrases, eve sentences while the teacher is a model for the
appropriate sound. She can use “Fidel Chart”. Stress can be shown by touching some
symbols. By this way, intonation and phrasing can be demonstrated by tapping on the chart.
After the students practice the sounds of language, sentence patterns, structure and vocabulary
are practiced.

As the students are studied cooperatively, it fosters cooperative learning and
communication among students. If it is not used too much, silent way method saves both time
and energy in the classroom. Students in that class develop themselves and they should have
self-esteem and self-importance.

You can only teach few learners as there is a great deal of one to one work. This
method can only be taught using specific methods. There is no creativity in the learning of
language while using this method.

The Silent Way is a rather traditional structural and lexical syllabus. This method also,
exemplifies many features that characterize other traditional methods, such as,
The teacher has an indirect role which the teacher is required to assume in monitoring
and directing learner performance.
Students’ errors are seen as a natural and indispensable part of the learning process

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