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Teaching Vocabulary Through TPR Method to Children

February 8, 2009 aminudin241072


English is a medium of communication which can help people to interact, converse, and share to other people. English is as an international language that’s why it is possible to everyone to communicate with other people around the world if someone has an ability to use English. The ability in using English is very important to everyone. This is one of the ways to improve human resources. The developing of human resources by mastering English will be better if it starts as early as possible. That’s why Indonesian Government has already run the policy and regulation for Elementary school to give English subject for the students in the classroom. It is one of the concerns of the Indonesian government to encounter the era of information and technology. English has been taught in Indonesia at Elementary school as one of the local content subjects. It is hoped that the students will learn and comprehend English as early as possible and can practice simple conversation. According to “Ministry of Natonal Education ”(1993), the aim of teaching English at Elementary School as follows: (1) “Siswa dapat memahami kata-kata dalam bahasa Inggris yang sering ditemukan dan

digunakan dalam kehidupan sehari hari. (2) Siswa mampu berkomunikasi dalam bahasa Inggris secara sederhana”. In communication, students need vocabulary which can support them to produces and use meaningful sentences because vocabulary provide organ of sentence. That’s why vocabulary is very important to be mastered. Jeremy Harmer (1991, 153) classifies that “Then it is vocabulary that provides the vital organs and flesh”. For that reason the students have to develop their vocabulary and master it in order to be able to communicate with other. Vocabulary is not only sign of symbol for ideas but also a part of how to improve language skills in the target language. The more vocabulary students learn the more ideas they should have, so they can communicate by using their ideas more effectively. It is mentioned by Julian Edge (1993, 27),” Knowing a lot of words in a foreign language is very important. The more words we know, the better our chance of understanding or making ourselves understood” However, students sometimes get difficulties to use or apply the vocabulary. Their difficulties in using vocabulary which have been studied can be caused some reasons. One of the reasons could be in the method which is used by the teacher in presenting the lesson in the classroom. That’s why the appropriate method in delivering the lesson in the classroom should be considered. One of the methods which is suitable for children in learning vocabulary is Total Physical Response (TPR) method. James Asher (http:/,1 ) stated that

“use TPR method for new vocabulary and grammar, to help students immediately understand the target language in chunks rather than word-by-word. This instant success is absolutely thrilling for students”. It shows that using Total Physical Respond method is effective to help the students to learn the target language because the students practice directly using the vocabulary in real context. By doing so, the students can develop the storage of the vocabulary in a short time. Besides that Total Physical Respond method also helps the children to understand and memorize linguistic input because the children use body movement as media in the process of learning. It is mentioned by Jack C Richard and Theodore s Rodgers, (1986, 92) that “The movement of the body seems to be powerful mediator for the understanding, organization and storage of macro details of linguistic input”. Considering to the above explanation, this paper discusses the TPR method, characteristics of children, and advantages of TPR method to children.

Total physical Response is one of the language teaching methods which was develop by James Asher, a professor of psychology at San Jose State University, California. He used the commands from the teacher to students or a student to another student. Students try to answer or response the commands through the movements of the body or action. According to Jack C. Richard and Theodore S. Rodgers (1993, 90) “Total Physical Response is a language teaching method built around the coordination of speech and action; it attempts to teach language through physical (motor) activity” . It is obviously described that physical response is the medium to stimulate interaction between teacher and learners.

Total Physical Response has characteristic. Asher who developed this method, focused in particular on two characteristics of first language acquisition which is written in David Nunan’s book ( 1991, 244) 1.”The child gets a vast amount of comprehensible input before beginning to speak. Young children comprehend language which is far in excess of their ability to produce. 2. There is a lot physical manipulation and action language accompanying early input. Throw the ball to Rudi’, put your arm through here’, etc. This action language, encouraging physical manipulation, is couched in the imperative” .

From the above description, the students try to comprehend the utterances of language before trying to produce verbal language. They learn by using physical movements or actions. To make it easy for the students, the teacher should not give abstract words first. It can be delayed until students can comprehend the target language. Asher ( 1991, 244) stated that: “Abstractions should be delayed until students have internalized a details cognitive map of the target language. Abstractions are not necessary for people to decode the grammatical structure of a language. Once students have internalized the target language” . To know more about Total Physical Response, the following is the basic principles of Total Physical Response which was created by Asher (1974, 244): 1. When should stress comprehension rather that production at the beginning levels of second language instruction with no demands on the learners to generate the target structure themselves. 2. We should obey the ‘here and now’ principle. 3. We should provide input to the learners by getting them to carry commands. These commands should be couched in the imperative” .

There are many kinds of activities which can be used by teacher in the process of learning using Total Physical Response Method such as: 1. Exercise by using command (imperative drill). This is the main activity which teacher can do in the classroom by using TPR method. This exercise is essential to demonstrate body movement and activity from students. It is hoped that when students are demonstrating the responses by acting out they will absorb and comprehend the meaningful sentences or utterance. 1. Dialogue (conversational dialogue). Students can interact and have conversation during the lesson. While having the conversation students can memorize and comprehend sentences in real context because students are brought to the real context in the conversation. For example when a student is asked to cry, walk, open, etc, he will do like the real one. 1. Playing a Role ( Role Play ). In this section every student is invited to act out his/her daily activity such as in school, restaurant, supermarket, and so on. It is very interesting and useful for students to practice the language because they are really like to act although pretending to be other people. 1. Presentation by using OHP or LCD.

Using OHP or LCD is also very interesting to develop students’ motivation in the learning process. In this form, students are asked to read or pronounce the words written on the screen. After that teacher asks students to act it out in front of the class about the words which have been learnt. Or teacher asks students to answer directly after the command are written on the screen. It will give a good feedback for students when they can answer it well. 5. Reading and writing activities. Reading and writing activities develop not only vocabulary but also train students to make sentences based on the right order. This activity can create students’ imagination because they try to illustrate and translate the others’ action into sentence by writing on the whiteboard. Or while reading a passage, the others’ describe it in acting in front of classroom.

Generally children like doing any kinds of activities as long as they feel happy. Children will choose the activities they like to do according to their own characteristics. The character of the children may be one of the signs of their development. According to Wendy A Schott et al (1990, 4) the characteristics of children are as follow: 1. The children ask questions all the time. 2. They rely on the spoken word as well as the physical world to convey and understand meaning. 3. They have definite views about what they like and do not like doing.

4. They have developed sense of fairness about what happen in the classroom and begin to questions the teachers’ decisions. 5. They are able to work with others and learn from others” .

Using the body movement in the process of learning is suitable to the characteristic of the children because children like to do physical movement. They like to move from one place to another place. They like to go around without thinking whether they disturb their surrounding or not. They don’t like to keep staying in one place which forces them not to do something. Geoffrey Broughton stated that” Young children are physically active”(1980, 169) . Besides that children also like to imitate and mime. They will give attention to other people and try to imitate merely like other people do and say. This is the way how children learn and develop their knowledge. This is supported by George Broughton et al ( 1980, 169) Rivers that “Children love to imitate and mime: they are uninhibited in acting out roles, and they enjoy repetition because it gives them a sense of assurance and achievement” . According to the points of explanation above, children like to be involved in something active. To make them active, the teacher should be able to make the circumstance of learning process which is suitable to the characteristics of the children. It may give motivation to the students to learn effectively. So hopefully the goal of the learning can be achieved well.


TPR method which developed by Prof. Dr. James J. Asher; a professor of psychology at San Jose University California has been succeeded in learning of foreign language for children. The successful of learning process can’t be separated from the advantages of TPR method itself. The advantages of using Total Physical Response Method in teaching English are wide. Firstly, Total Physical Response method creates positive thinking which facilitates the student to involve in learning process, so it can develop not only motivation but also the aim of students in learning. Besides that this method is very easy and the usage of language contains of action games, that’s why it can help student to learn fast and effectively. Besides that it is also able to avoid the problem which students usually meet during the process of learning especially when they study foreign language. James Asher (ttp//,1) stated that “Use Total Physical Response method for new vocabulary and grammar, to help your students immediately understand the target language … . This instant success is absolutely thrilling for students”. Secondly, teaching vocabulary to children by using Total Physical Response method is very useful for children because children like to give response by using physical response first better than using verbal response. It is very suitable when the process of learning is emphasized on physical response in the students’ response. Children also not only like to response and act out something new but also intend to know more and more about language by responding the action toward the given command. “Directly utterances to children contains of command and children or students

will respond toward their physic before they start to produce verbal response”. (James Asher,,1). Thirdly, This method can facilitate students with the meaning in real context. Students can memorize the vocabulary by looking at the action, even though the vocabulary is not translated. So the presence of action in the classroom is as an imperative to help teacher in explaining the materials for students and in understanding the meaning of vocabulary. Because of this method uses basic command and real context in the process of learning it is very helpful for students to know the meaning. By telling students to stand up, put their hands in the air, and pick up something and give it to another students, etc, are acting which commonly and naturally done by students so it is easy for them to memorize the vocabulary or utterance. ”. It is supported by Teacher Joe’s ( TPR.html, 1) that “TPR trains students to respond quickly and naturally while also teaching vocabulary in a fun, lively lesson”. The usage of Total Physical Response method emphasize in action so students are involved in activities in the process of learning. This circumstance is interesting to students. So by using this method students can accept the lesson easier and faster. Even though Total Physical Response Method is effective to teach vocabulary, teacher needs to think of media to set up the context in delivering the lesson of vocabulary to students. Besides teacher should be willing to create conducive learning. Fourthly, using Total Physical Response method is interesting and fun. It is very suitable for the students’ characteristics which have been mentioned before. By giving something interesting and funny makes children attentively focused on the process of

learning. Because of that situation children feel free to involve in learning process. Besides that they are not under pressed by the threatening situation and condition. Finally they can get the aim of learning by keeping on learning and giving attention to the lesson. ESL Café’s Idea Cookbook-TPR.(, 1) supported that “It’s fun! It’s non-threatening. It keep their attention. They learn!”. For example: put your left hand in the air - put it down – put your right hand in the air – put it down – put both hands in the air – put them down – put your left foot in the air – put it down – put your right foot in the air – put it down – put both feet in the air ! Students try jumping in the air or attempt a handstand on their desks! Another funny sequence of basic TPR is : – clap your hands – clap your hands three times – clap them five times – clap your hands 800 times ! – turn around – turn around twice then clap once – jump once – jump seven times – turn around, jump once and clap twice – turn three times, jump five times and clap twice! Students really struggle hard to remember this last one, but if you do it step by step and repeat often, they can do it eventually.

CONCLUSION Total Physical Response is one of the learning processes which involves the students actively in the classroom activities. It can be affective in delivering explicit instruction in learning. The effectiveness of the Total Physical Response has been shown by the experts in some countries and has given significant improvement of students’ achievement in

learning English especially vocabulary in language target. As children are physically active by nature, Total Physical Response will make language learning especially vocabulary more effective because children feel fun during the learning. This methods of instruction “injects the lesson with both physical activity and fun as the students playact their roles and respond to both simple yes/no questions and more complex questions about who, where, when, etc.” (James Asher, http:/ ) By having a good skills in presenting the lessons in any kinds of models teacher is encouraged to develop knowledge and stimulate children’s to learn. The knowledge and experience are influences in developing of children’s vocabulary, that’s why teacher should be able to manage and select the material which can be absorbed by children. Besides that comprehension of the vocabulary should be more emphasized and developed in the learning process in order to get the aim of learning vocabulary. Finally, after knowing some of the advantages of Total Physical Respond method, hopefully teacher is able to present the lesson to students or children effectively.

Broughton Geoffrey, Teaching English as a Foreighn Language: Routledge and Kegan Paul, London, 1980, 169.

Edge Julian, Essential of English Language Teaching: Longman, New York 1993, 27.

Harmer Jeremy, The Pracatice of English Language Teaching: Longman Group, London 1991, 153.

Ministry of National Education GBPP Kurikulu SD, Jakarta,1993.

Nunan David, Language Teaching Methodology: Prentile Hall International Ltd, 1991,188-244

Richard C Jack and Theodore S Rodgers, Approach and Method on Language Teaching: Cambridge University Press New York, 1986, 92

Total Physical Response known worldwide as TPR: http:/

Teaching Ideas for the ESL Classroom: TPR.html

Entry Filed under: TPR Method

Total Physical Response

The method was developed by James Asher, a professor of psychology at San Jose State University, California in the 1960s. The Total Physical Response Method (TPR) incorporates theories of developmental psychology, humanistic pedagogy, as well the dramatic or theatrical nature of language learning. The main idea behind TPR is based upon the principle of establishing psychomotor associations to facilitate language learning. The teacher presents the language in the form of commands which are demonstrated and modeled by the teacher and fulfilled by the students, individually and/or in groups. The meaning is made clear through demonstration. The emphasis is on developing comprehension skills before the learner is required to produce in the target language. Though the language is presented and taught in the form of imperatives, Asher claims that most of the grammatical structures of the target language and hundreds of vocabulary items can be learned from the skillful use of the imperative by the instructor. The idea of employing the imperative drill in language teaching and developing comprehension skills before production is not new and can be traced back to 1925 to the teaching procedures proposed by Harold and Dorothy Palmer in their textbook of English 'English Through Action', a comprehensive collection of oral drills and exercises for the classroom. Palmer used the term incubation period which is a necessary prerequisite for the learner to absorb and cognize; the language in all its aspects. Therefore he suggested that language teaching should be based on the ‘natural basis,’ and active production (speaking and writing) should never be encouraged or expected until the pupil has had many opportunities of cognizing the language passively (through listening and reading). TPR is most effective in the early stages of language learning and Asher himself has stressed TPR should be used in association with other methods and techniques. And indeed TPR represents a useful set of techniques which are compatible with other approaches to teaching.

Theory of language: The approach is based upon structuralist or grammarbased views of language. The verb in the imperative is considered to be the central linguistic motif around which language use and learning are organized. The commands employed in the classroom are used to teach anything beginning with focusing on prepositions to the conditional and subjunctive moods (e.g., Henry would you prefer to serve a cold drink to Molly, or would you rather have Eugene kick you in the leg?). Since Asher considers second

language learning as a parallel process to child language acquisition, the language contents are based on concrete nouns and imperative verbs, i.e. nonabstractions, the immediate surrounding in the classroom. As for teaching abstractions, they should be delayed until students have internalized a detailed cognitive map of the target language. Once students have internalized the language code, abstractions can be introduced and explained in the target language. Though the syllabus of TPR is structure-based and grammarfocused, the emphasis is on meaning rather than on form. Language is presented in chunks so that it would be internalized as wholes rather than as single lexical items. In the early stages teachers similarly to parents should refrain from too much correction in order not to inhibit learners. Theory of learning: TPR takes its grounding in behavioral psychology. Asher sees a stimulus-response view as providing the learning theory underlying language teaching pedagogy. To reinforce memorization TPR combines motor activity (fulfilling the commands after the teacher) and verbal rehearsal (listening to the teacher's model and speaking out when one is ready to produce). Such combination can be labeled as an action-based drill in the imperative form. To justify development of listening comprehension before expecting any production from the student Asher uses the facts from the process of first language acquisition when children respond physically to spoken language in the form of parental commands. Only after a long silent period (from several months to two or three years) the child’s speechproduction mechanism begins to function. Asher also believes that second language teaching should be directed to the right brain hemisphere which is responsible for motor activities, while the left hemisphere (responsible for verbal processing) watches and learns. To sum up this theory in one sentence, TPR is based on recreating the first language learning process in the second language classroom, because the human brain and nervous system are biologically programmed to acquire language in a particular mode. The sequence is developing listening comprehension before production skills and the mode is synchronizing language with body movements.

The general objectives of TPR are to teach oral proficiency at a beginning level. Another sub-goal of the method is to have students enjoy their experience in learning a foreign language, to reduce the stress that people feel when studying foreign languages and thereby encourage them to persist in their study beyond a beginning level of proficiency.

1) Stimulating memory with psychomotor associations: Language in the

form of the teacher's commands is synchronized with body movements. According to Asher, this is the way to recreate the process by which children learn their first language. Beginning foreign language instruction should address the right hemisphere of the brain, the part which controls nonverbal behavior. 2) Comprehension before production: Students are not required to produce in the second language until they themselves decide that they are ready. Therefore students are allowed a silent period; an often lengthy period during which learners do not try to speak but they internalize the language by listening and comprehending it. Input (the new language material) is made comprehensible through listening and watching the teacher's modeling of commands and later fulfilling these commands. 3) Lowering the student's anxiety and stress reduction: This is achieved through the following: (1) students are not required to produce in the new language before they feel ready, (2) the teacher's commands are often zany and humorous in order to make language learning as enjoyable as possible, (3) students first perform the commands together with the teacher and in groups, (4) early error correction is very unobtrusive and mistakes are allowed in the classroom at the beginning period. 4) Inductive teaching of grammar: The target language is presented in chunks and the focus is on meaning rather than on form. 5) Unobtrusive error correction in the early stages: Asher believes that it is more important to let the students just talk in order to lower their anxiety about making mistakes. Once their confidence in speaking is high they can be fine tuned to produce the subtleties of speech that approximate the native speaker. Moreover, Asher states that the emphasis on error-free production and correct form is risky and if done so most children and adults will give up before reaching even the intermediate level. 6) Selection of grammatical features and vocabulary items from the immediate classroom surroundings: These are the imperatives in the first place and concrete nouns. With imagination, almost any aspect of the linguistic code for the target language could be communicated using commands. E.g., the future and present tenses can be embedded into a command as, "When Luke walks to the window, Marie will write Luke's name on the blackboard!"; Abstract nouns are presented at the later stages once the students are ready to decode the grammatical structure of a language.

The TPR syllabus is sentence-based with grammatical and lexical criteria being

primary in selecting teaching items. Grammar structures and vocabulary are selected according to their frequency of need or use in the classroom (not in target language situations) and the ease with which they can be learned. Advocating the use of the imperative, Asher states that it should be used in combination with many other techniques. A TPR course begins with about ten to twenty hours of training in listening comprehension. Only after it the students are invited (but not pressured!) to reverse roles with the teacher and speak out the commands in the target language. TPR lessons are structured in the following way: a) Demonstration: the students sit in a semicircle around the teacher, they listen carefully to his/her commands and do exactly what the teacher does. The students are encouraged to respond without hesitation and to make a distinct, robust response with their bodies. The first routine could be "Stand up! Walk! Stop! Turn! Sit down!" b) The routine is repeated for three or four times until individual students indicate that they are ready to try it alone without the instructor as a model. Each repetition of a routine is never an exact duplication of the previously done sequence. c) The instructor recombines the previously learned material to form novel commands. When some of the students are ready to produce in the target language, they give commands to the teacher and the other students.

Teacher and learner roles
The teacher plays an active and direct role in TPR. He/she decides what to teach, who models and presents the new materials, and who selects supporting materials for classroom use. The teacher usually initiates the interaction, even when learners interact with each other. According to Asher, the instructor is the director of a stage play in which the students are the actors. At first learners are listeners and performers of the teacher's commands. When they are ready to speak there is a role reversal and students themselves speak out commands. Yet, they have little influence over the learning process: the content is predetermined by the teacher.

1) Using commands in action sequences: The use of commands is the major teaching technique of TPR (Larsen-Freeman, 1986). The teacher models the commands and performs the corresponding actions to make the meaning clear.

Students fulfill the commands (action-based drills) with the teacher, individually and in groups. When they begin to speak they direct commands to the teacher and to each other. Commands are presented in a sequence, but as Asher suggests there should be no exact repetition of the same sequence and the teacher should each time vary the routine to avoid memorization of a fixed sequence of behavior. Commands should be funny and humorous to make the learning process enjoyable. E.g., "Rosemary, dance with Samuel, and stick your tongue out at Hilda. Hilda, run to Rosemary, hit her on the arm, pull her to her chair and you dance with Samuel!" The teacher should also plan sequences of commands in advance to keep the pace of the lesson lively. Commands are used, as Asher claims, to communicate all grammar features and hundreds of vocabulary. Commands can be subdivided into the following groups: a) Moving whole body or parts of body: Stand, walk, sit, jump, run, etc.; Touch your feet, head, shoulders, etc. b) Moving things (manipulatives): Put the book under the chair; Point to the purple paper; Pick up the eraser and put it on your feet; Set the clock to 2:00. c) Moving abstractions/pictures: Put the picture of the cookie on the table; Put the picture of the principal in the picture of the office; Give the card labeled 'Sunday' to Juan; Pick up the card labeled 'Monday' and put it next to the card labeled 'Thursday'. d) Action sequences (series of commands or operations): Action sequences are based on numerous everyday activities, like writing a letter, cleaning the house, eating breakfast, etc, that are broken down into separate commands, e.g. Eating Grapes: -- Look at the grapes. -- Turn on the water. -- Put the grapes under the water. -- Wash the grapes. -- Don't use soap. -- Shake the grapes dry. -- Pick a grape. -- Give it to a friend. -- Pick another grape. -- Chew it. -- Chew it some more.

-- Swallow it. 2) Role reversal: When students are ready to speak, they command their teacher and classmates to perform some actions. 3) Conversational dialogues and role plays: These are delayed until after about 120 hours of instruction, when students achieve an advanced internalization of the target language. Role plays center on everyday situations, such as at the restaurant, supermarket, or petrol station. 4) Slide presentations: These are used to provide a visual center for teacher narration, which is followed by commands, and questions to students, such as, "Which person in the picture is the salesperson?" 5) Compiling language experience stories: A language experience story is a group-authored story written about a shared experience. Students participate in an experience such as a cooking activity, and then retell or dictate the story to the teacher who writes it down on the blackboard. The students read the story and act out the written sentences.

Questions to Ponder
Do you use any of the afar-mentioned techniques in your teaching? Would you want to adapt any? Do you believe it is useful to combine listening to the language and acting it out to reinforce recall and memorization? Do you grant your students the right to make mistakes at the beginning of the course or are you afraid that if allowed to do so the students will memorize something wrong and you will have to re-teach it? Have you ever witnessed «the silent period» in any of your students (a student who is dead silent in the beginning of the course but who becomes a real chatter-box by the middle of it? Does it make any sense to delay the teaching of speaking? Would you agree that the teacher should wait until the students feel ready to produce in the target language? What grammar structures besides the imperative would be most rational to teach using TPR? You will find a few lessons based on the TPR method in the textbook 'The Children's Response' by Caroline Linse. Try them out on your students.

TPR- Total Physical Response I have decided to add a bit to the classroom on TPR. It is based on the work of Stephen Krashen and James J. Asher’s book Learning Another Language Through Actions. see also: Total Physical Response - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (And Live Action English) Live Action English, Millennium Edition: Elizabeth Romijn, Contee Seely, Elizabeth Kuizenga Romijn: Books It is a technique to bring authentic language into your classroom in a communicative way.

Total Physical Response was developed in the 70's by the psychologist James Asher. This method teaches languages through commands that require, as the name implies, a “total physical response.” Thus, the first day of class might consist of learning the correct responses to the commands “Stand up,” “Sit down,” “Turn around,” and “Jump.” Notice that students only have to act out the commands and not actually give them (though this may happen later). This is because the initial focus of TPR is on the comprehension of language, not production. TPR also appeals to the kinesthetic learning style, by linking language to actions. This puts the language used into a meaningful context and thus helps students retain it longer (Asher). The effectiveness of TPR in teaching vocabulary quickly, painlessly and for long-term retention is virtually undisputed. However, Total Physical Response does have some serious limitations. It can become monotonous when employed exclusively. There is also only a certain set of vocabulary and grammar concepts that can be taught this way, namely commands and concrete objects (thus excluding discourse and abstract vocabulary) (Marsh, 24). Classical TPR is one of the few methods that can realistically achieve this kind of comprehensibility. When a teacher teaches a command, for instance, “Stand up”, he models it for the class, so that there is no question about what it means. Thus, when students hear the command, they will have an easy time following it and associate the action with the meaning of the command. As mentioned before, although classical TPR can provide a high degree of comprehensibility, it is limited in the types of words and syntactical structures that it can use.

The Basics of TPRS
The philosophical basis of TPRS is simple: People best acquire a second language essentially like they acquire their first--by hearing lots of speech in context, and making connections between the parts they understand and the parts they don't. As children and

as older learners,we are capable of absorbing amazing amounts of vocabulary and structure under the right circumstances. When we are ready, we begin to draw upon what we have heard to produce the words we have absorbed, arranging them in an evermore-complex manner according to what sounds right, making grammatical guesses based upon the rules our brain (correctly or incorrectly) deduces. Additional philosophical mooring is furnished by the idea of the "kinesthetic learner"-that the acquisition of knowledge is enhanced when accompanied by physical activity. It is an extension ofthe Total Physical Response method, in which the kinesthetic response is central. In TPRS, students hear lots of comprehensible speech in the target language, allowing them to absorb rules and vocabulary well before they are expected to produce in the target language. When production is delayed in favor of comprehensible input, the quality of the eventual production is based upon a deep knowledge of the language as it has been absorbed and synthesized. Here is a brief summary of the methodology: Three or four vocabulary target-language words are introduced to the class. English may be used, as well as mnemonic devices for remembering the new words.Most importantly, each word is learned along with a gesture (actual sign language gestures may be used, making it possible to learn two languages at once!). The teacher says the words in random order, modeling the gestures at first, then testing for comprehension by observing the speed of students' responses. When the words seem to have been learned, a brief story is told which uses the words. The process is repeated until ten to fifteen words have been taught. A longer story is then told which features these words.Comprehension is tested on the spot every step of the way, first by the speed of the gestures (students are required to close their eyes, so each student's knowledge is truly measured), then by target-language questions about the stories. I began this year experimenting with TPRS, trying to integrate Ray's techniques into the curriculum with which I am comfortable (and which must be followed since most of my students move to another teacher after one semester), and within a week, I was exuberant. In the first four weeks, in which we usually cover one chapter of material, most of my students already recognize about one third of the vocabulary which is normally introduced in the fifth week. They have learned several adjectives in context, and I get the feeling that agreement of adjectives will sound natural to them in a few months when it's officially introduced.I fully expect that by second semester, most students will already know about half of the vocabulary that will be presented. All this, and I really feel like I haven't mastered the technique yet, and feel frustrated because I'm bogged down by the tests and assignments that I don't have time to re-do. There are a few elements of the method that will give teachers pause; I remember being suspicious of approaches which took students away from drills. I have been a firm believer in homework, which Ray virtually eliminates. But why don't we let results speak for themselves? How many students have you seen become fluent from drills? Most of BlaineRay's students leave school fluent, passing AP tests in astounding numbers. Don't fight it, learn it! TPRS has all the themes of the Mental Note philosophy of education which has been espoused in this column: It is less work for the teacher; It is intrinsically motivating; Its focus is long-term retention; It is an efficient use of the taxpayers' class time. This method is not dynamite--it's nuclear fission for second language acquisition, and the

sooner you check it out, the sooner you can taste true success as a teacher. From : \ BEP – bizarre, exaggerated, personalized; the three key qualities for a successful PMS or story. (Blaine Ray)from TPRS Publishing BEPH – bizarre, exaggerated, personalized, humorous; the four key qualities for a successful PMS or story. The more of these qualities that you can incorporate into your story, the more likely it will be successful. (Carol Gaab) from TPRS Publishing A 2-week Introductory Lesson Plan can be found at: Video example here: TeacherTube - Good Morning! This is a sample of my lesson plan: I have the sentences on the board. I draw pictures to help with the vocabulary. I go over the vocabulary before the practice. Then I Demonstrate the actions. Then all students do the actions. Then they can practice in groups. Then I have them copy the lessons into a journal. (Just lined paper composition books.) I have used this technique successfully with all ages of beginning students (from 5 to 80) in groups from a few to as many as 70. It is a way to bring communicative language into beginning classrooms. Good luck. KMS 101 There is a CD for computers that looks like this. (I have never used it.): There are of course new (and expensive materials) that support this. As above. But you will be fine with the basic book and a few props to match the lesson.KMS 101 From the Lit about the book: It includes stuff like:
• •

Good morning (morning routine) Time to clean house

• • • • • • • • • •

Playing a cassette (operating a cassette player) Grocery shopping Giving directions (in a car) Sending a postcard (buying, writing and mailing) Going fishing Using a pay phone Planting a seed Making a table Office worker (focuses on articles of clothing more than office vocabulary) Soup for lunch (heating up a can of soup)

And this is indeed one of the books that I used. Cheers. __________________
"Many of the pundits attacking government health insurance rely on government health insurance for their own families." Daniel Gross

Last edited by Killing Me Softly 101; 13th August 2008 at 02:30. Reason: Automerged Doublepost

Chapter 5 of Revitalizing Indigenous Languages, edited by Jon Reyhner, Gina Cantoni, Robert N. St. Clair, and Evangeline Parsons Yazzie (pp. 53-58). Flagstaff, AZ: Northern Arizona University. Copyright 1999 by Northern Arizona University. Return to Table of Contents

Using TPR-Storytelling to Develop Fluency and Literacy in Native American Languages
Gina P. Cantoni
This paper describes the Total Physical Response Storytelling (TPR-S) approach to teaching second languages. TPR-S is an extension of James Asher's Total Physical Response (TPR) immersion approach to teaching second languages that has been very popular with indigenous language teachers as it allows students to be active learners, produces quick results, and does not involve the use of textbooks or writing. TPR-S strategies utilize vocabulary first taught using TPR by incorporating it into stories that students hear, watch, act out, retell, revise, read, write, and rewrite. Subsequent stories introduce additional vocabulary in meaningful contexts. This paper discusses TPR-Storytelling (TPR-S) as a promising approach to teaching a Native American language to Native students who have not learned it at home. I am grateful to my former student Valeri Marsh for the opportunity to examine TPR-S training materials and strategies and for her input into this article. An interest in exploring methodologies suitable for teaching indigenous languages and in having teachers receive training was expressed by the Native educators who met in Flagstaff, Arizona, at the First and Second Symposia on Stabilizing Indigenous Languages (Cantoni, 1996). Some of the participants gave demonstrations of the Total Physical Response (TPR) in their small-group meetings, and several teachers mentioned that TPR was used in their schools as an introductory approach to Native language instruction. What is TPR? Popularized in the 1960s and 70s by James Asher (1977), TPR represented a revolutionary departure from the audiolingual practice of having students repeat the teacher's utterances from the very beginning of their first lesson and whenever new material was introduced later on. Asher recommended that beginners be allowed a silent period in which they learn to recognize a large number of words without being expected to say them. The vocabulary presented at this level usually consists of action verbs and phrases such as "walk," "run," "touch," "point to," "give me," "go back," and the names of concrete items such as "floor," "window," "door," "mouth," "desk," "teddy bear," and "banana." About 150 words are presented in the first five or six weeks, and at least three new terms per lesson can be expected to become part of a learner's active vocabulary during any lesson, even though they may not say them until later.

The teacher begins by uttering a simple command such as "walk to the window," demonstrating or having a helper act out the expected action, and inviting the class to join in. Commands are usually addressed first to the entire class, then to small groups, and finally to individuals. When a few basic verbs and nouns have become familiar, variety is obtained by adding qualifiers such as "fast," "slowly," "big," "little," "red," "white," "my," and "your." Since the students are not required to speak, they are spared the stress of trying to produce unfamiliar sounds and the consequent fear of making mistakes. Stephen Krashen (1981) considers lowering the "affective filter" an important factor in the language acquisition process. Although the teacher is continuously assessing individual progress in order to control the pace of introducing new material, this assessment is unobtrusive and nonthreatening. A learner who does not understand a particular command can look at others for clues and will be ready to respond appropriately the next time or the one after. TPR is a continuous application of the "scaffolding" strategy (Vygotsky, 1986) with the teacher, and then the class, supporting the learning of a new word by demonstrating its meaning and then withdrawing assistance when it is no longer needed. For example, to teach the word "gato" for "cat" the Spanish teacher may use a toy or a picture; later, the word "gato" becomes part of the scaffolding for teaching modifiers such as "big," "little," "black," or "white." During TPR, the teacher is always providing comprehensible input, the cornerstone of Stephen Krashen's (1985) theory. New items are introduced within the framework of items taught in previous lessons or available from the learners' preexisting knowledge. In teaching the word "gato," the teacher is introducing a new label (an alternative to the label already available, i.e., "cat") but not a new concept--the learners are already able to identify the toy or the picture as representing a certain familiar creature. TPR has been proven very effective for the initial stages of second language instruction, but it has limited usefulness for more advanced learning. It emphasizes commands, leaving out the forms used in narratives, descriptions, or conversations, and it is predominantly teacher-initiated and directed, with little opportunity for student creativity and little attention to individual interests. More importantly, TPR promotes only the learners' receptive language skills and ignores the productive ones, which are essential to real communication. After a few weeks, some students spontaneously begin to give commands to each other. This indicates readiness for a gradual evolution from the receptive to the productive mode. At this point, TPR-Storytelling (Ray & Seely, 1997) provides easy-to-follow guidelines for further progress towards more complex levels of language proficiency. What is TPR-S? The storytelling strategies of TPR-S utilize the vocabulary taught in the earlier stage by incorporating it into stories that the learners hear, watch, act out, retell, revise, read, write, and rewrite. Subsequent stories introduce additional vocabulary in meaningful

contexts. The children are already familiar with stories from other school and preschool experiences, and now they are exposed to this familiar genre as the teacher presents it in a new language with an abundance of gestures, pictures, and other props to facilitate comprehension. After hearing a story, various students act it out together or assume different roles while their peers watch. The teacher may retell the story with slight variations, replacing one character with another, and engaging different students in the acting. Another technique introduces some conversational skills, as the teacher asks short-answer and open-ended questions such as "Is the cat hungry?", "Is the dog big or little?", and "Where does the girl live?" (Marsh, 1996). Students are not required to memorize the stories; on the contrary, they are encouraged to construct their own variations as they retell them to a partner, a small group, or the entire class, using props such as illustrations, toys, and labels. The ultimate goal is to have students develop original stories and share them with others. A whole range of activities may be included, such as videotaping, drama, creating booklets for children in the lower grades, designing bulletin boards, and so forth. At this point TPR-S has much in common with other effective approaches to reading and writing instruction. Both TPR and TPR-S are examples of language teaching as an interactive learnercentered process that guides students in understanding and applying information and in conveying messages to others. TPR as well as TPR-S apply Cummins' (1989) interactive pedagogy principle. At first the children interact silently with the teacher and indicate comprehension by executing commands and then by acting out stories. They are active participants long before they are able to verbally communicate with the teacher and with each other. TPR as well as TPR-S also apply some of Krashen's (1985) most valuable pedagogical principles. The learners' affective filter is kept at a low level by a relaxed classroom atmosphere, where the stress of performing and being judged is kept to a minimum. At the beginning of the storytelling stage, the students' initial response is not oral, but kinesthetic: When they begin to speak, the teacher responds to the content of their messages rather than to their grammatical accuracy. In TPR as well as in TPR-S the teacher provides comprehensible input without using L1; she relies on the learners' preexisting knowledge of the world and uses gestures, actions, pictures, and objects to demonstrate how one can talk about it in another language. TPR and TPR-S also make abundant use of the pedagogical strategy of scaffolding (Vygotsky, 1986). The teacher or a peer assists the learner during tasks that could not yet be performed without help. The scaffold is removed as soon as it becomes unnecessary; new support is then made available for the next challenge. Cooperative learning can be seen as a particular kind of scaffolding provided within a group where students help each other (Steward, 1995; Tharp & Gallimore, 1988). How can TPR-S promote Native language learning?

Materials and guides for TPR-S are available for teaching Spanish, French, German, and English as a Second Language. The procedures outlined in these sources could be adapted to the teaching of any language, including Native American ones, if educators, school districts, and community members wanted to engage in such a project. Several Native American teachers and teacher-trainers have created TPR lessons to introduce their tribal language to the children who have not learned it at home, and these efforts are usually very successful; they allow the learners to indicate comprehension non-verbally, keeping the affective filter low. However, these TPR strategies develop receptive language skills and ignore the productive ones. Many Native children can understand their tribal language because they hear it spoken at home. These children can be very useful during TPR lessons, acting as assistants, demonstrators, and group leaders. There is reason to rejoice over the fact that they can understand their elders and appreciate their teachings and stories, but what will happen a few years from now when the old people are gone and these children are grown up and should carry on the task of culture transmission? If they can understand but not speak the tribal language, how are they going to teach it to the next generation? This situation is especially serious in the case of languages such as Hopi or Zuni that are spoken only in a particular community, whose members cannot import speakers from other parts of the world, a choice which is available to Hispanics, Slovenes, Chinese, and other groups. It is essential that Native children learn to use their tribal language instead of just understanding it. In some cases, their reluctance to speak may be owing not only to the pressures of an English-speaking society but also to unreasonable expectations of correctness and accuracy. Children who have suffered ridicule or embarrassment because they mispronounced or misused a word are likely to avoid the risk of further unpleasantness and take refuge in silence. This problem was brought up repeatedly during the First and Second Symposia on Stabilizing Indigenous Languages (Cantoni, 1996), and it was recommended that all attempts to use the home language be encouraged and rewarded but never criticized. The increasing scarcity of Native-language speakers has assigned the responsibility of Native language instruction to the school, instead of the home or community. When the Native language teacher is almost the only source of Native language input, and the instruction time allocated to Native language teaching is limited, the learners are not to blame for their limited progress in fluency and accuracy. In addition, Native children face a more severe challenge than English-speaking children who are learning French or Spanish. Research indicates that the extent to which comprehensible input results in grammatical accuracy depends not only on the quantity, quality, and frequency of available input, but on the "linguistic distance" between the learners' L1 and the target L2 (Ringbom, 1987). There is evidence that students learning Spanish through TPR-S made high scores on national grammar tests, but Spanish is an Indo-European language, just like English, whereas Native American languages have grammatical systems unrelated to those of English.

Consequently, Native language teachers who expect their students, or at least some of them, to master the tribal language at a level of correctness that will satisfy the most exacting local standards should provide them appropriate guidance, not just input. As Rivers (1994) has pointed out, there is a crucial difference between comprehension and production. The meaning that a learner constructs from input is drawn from semantic clues and is not stored in memory in its full syntactic complexity. It is possible to comprehend and remember input with little attention to syntax by relying on preexisting knowledge, context, and vocabulary (Van Dijk & Kirtsch, 1983). This phenomenon is known as "selective listening" and often occurs even when the teacher responds to an ungrammatical utterance with one that models the correct form (Van Patten, 1985). This kind of polite error correction, which is recommended for interactive journals, does not necessarily work all the time for all learners; teachers might need to resort to other forms of intervention, such as those described in the literature on the writing process. In conclusion, educators interested in developing a Native language program or modifying their existing one could explore what TPR-S has to offer for their particular situation. TPR-S consultants could be hired by a school district to work with Native language speakers in developing materials and lesson plans similar to those used for teaching Spanish or ESL. TPR-S evolved from the grassroots efforts of interested and creative teachers rather than from the application of theoretical models. Its reputation has spread by word-of-mouth, from one satisfied practitioner to another, from one school to the next (Marsh, 1997). Training new personnel to use this methodology is not difficult or excessively timeconsuming. TPR-S emphasizes a positive, collaborative, and supportive classroom climate in which Native American children could develop increasingly complex skills in speaking, reading, and writing their tribal language. The stories, illustrations, and audio cassettes they could produce would be a valuable addition to the scarce pool of Native-language materials available today. References Asher, J. J. (1977). Learning another language through actions: The complete teacher's guidebook. Los Gatos, CA: Sky Oaks. Ausubel, D. P. (1968). Cognitive structure and the facilitation of meaningful verbal learning. Journal of Teacher Education, 14, 73-94. Cantoni, G. P. (Ed.). (1996). Stabilizing indigenous languages. Flagstaff, AZ: Northern Arizona University. Cummins, J. (1989). Language and literacy acquisition in bilingual contexts. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 10(1), 17-31.

Johnson, D. W., & Johnson, R. T. (1986). Learning together and alone: Cooperation, competition and individualization (2nd ed.). Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon. Krashen, S. D. (1981). Second language acquisition and second language learning. Oxford: Pergamon. Krashen, S. D. (1985). The input hypothesis: Issues and implications. New York: Longman. Marsh, V. (1996). ¡Cuéntame!: TPR Storytelling: Teacher's manual. Scottsdale, AZ: C.W. Publishing. Marsh, V. (1997). Personal communication. Ray, B., & Seely, C. (1997). Fluency through TPR Storytelling. Berkeley, CA: Command Performance Language Institute. Ringbom, (1987). The role of first language in second language learning. Clevedon, UK: Multiligual Matters. Rivers, W. M. (1994). Comprehension and production. In R.M. Barasch & C.V. James (Eds.), Beyond the Monitor Model (pp. 71-95). Boston: Heinle & Heinle. Slavin, R. E. (1990). Cooperative learning. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon. Steward, E. P. (1995). Beginning writers in the Zone of Proximal Development. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum. Tharp, R. G., & Gallimore, R. (1988). Rousing minds to life. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University. Van Dijk, T. A., & Kritsch, W. (1983). Strategies of discourse comprehension. New York: Academic. Van Patten, B. (1985). Communicative value and information processing. In P. Larson, E.L. Judd, & D.S. Messerschmitt (Eds.), On TESOL (pp. 89-99). Washington, DC: TESOL. Vygotsky, L. S. (1986). Thought and language. Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Return to Table of Contents

Teaching Vocabulary
By: Linda Diamond and Linda Gutlohn (2006) Consider some excellent lesson models for teaching vocabulary, explaining idioms, fostering word consciousness, instruction for English Language Learners, and mnemonic strategies. Vocabulary is the knowledge of words and word meanings. As Steven Stahl (2005) puts it, "Vocabulary knowledge is knowledge; the knowledge of a word not only implies a definition, but also implies how that word fits into the world." Vocabulary knowledge is not something that can ever be fully mastered; it is something that expands and deepens over the course of a lifetime. Instruction in vocabulary involves far more than looking up words in a dictionary and using the words in a sentence. Vocabulary is acquired incidentally through indirect exposure to words and intentionally through explicit instruction in specific words and word-learning strategies. According to Michael Graves (2000), there are four components of an effective vocabulary program: 1. wide or extensive independent reading to expand word knowledge 2. instruction in specific words to enhance comprehension of texts containing those words 3. instruction in independent word-learning strategies, and 4. word consciousness and word-play activities to motivate and enhance learning

Components of vocabulary instruction
The National Reading Panel (2000) concluded that there is no single research-based method for teaching vocabulary. From its analysis, the panel recommended using a variety of direct and indirect methods of vocabulary instruction.

Intentional vocabulary teaching Specific Word Instruction
• •

Selecting Words to Teach Rich and Robust Instruction

Word-Learning Strategies
• • • •

Dictionary Use Morphemic Analysis Cognate Awareness (ELL) Contextual Analysis

According to the National Reading Panel (2000), explicit instruction of vocabulary is highly effective. To develop vocabulary intentionally, students should be explicitly taught both specific words and word-learning strategies. To deepen students' knowledge of word meanings, specific word instruction should be robust (Beck et al., 2002). Seeing vocabulary in rich contexts provided by authentic texts, rather than in isolated vocabulary drills, produces robust vocabulary learning (National Reading Panel, 2000). Such instruction often does not begin with a definition, for the ability to give a definition is often the result of knowing what the word means. Rich and robust vocabulary instruction goes beyond definitional knowledge; it gets students actively engaged in using and thinking about word meanings and in creating relationships among words. Research shows that there are more words to be learned than can be directly taught in even the most ambitious program of vocabulary instruction. Explicit instruction in wordlearning strategies gives students tools for independently determining the meanings of unfamiliar words that have not been explicitly introduced in class. Since students encounter so many unfamiliar words in their reading, any help provided by such strategies can be useful. Word-learning strategies include dictionary use, morphemic analysis, and contextual analysis. For ELLs whose language shares cognates with English, cognate awareness is also an important strategy. Dictionary use teaches students about multiple word meanings, as well as the importance of choosing the appropriate definition to fit the particular context. Morphemic analysis is the process of deriving a word's meaning by analyzing its meaningful parts, or morphemes. Such word parts include root words, prefixes, and suffixes. Contextual analysis involves inferring the meaning of an unfamiliar word by scrutinizing the text surrounding it. Instruction in contextual analysis generally involves teaching students to employ both generic and specific types of context clues.

Fostering word consciousness
A more general way to help students develop vocabulary is by fostering word consciousness, an awareness of and interest in words. Word consciousness is not an isolated component of vocabulary instruction; it needs to be taken into account each and every day (Scott and Nagy, 2004). It can be developed at all times and in several ways: through encouraging adept diction, through word play, and through research on word origins or histories. According to Graves (2000), "If we can get students interested in playing with words and language, then we are at least halfway to the goal of creating the sort of word-conscious students who will make words a lifetime interest."

Multiple exposures in multiple contexts
One principle of effective vocabulary learning is to provide multiple exposures to a word's meaning. There is great improvement in vocabulary when students encounter vocabulary words often (National Reading Panel, 2000). According to Stahl (2005), students probably have to see a word more than once to place it firmly in their long-term

memories. "This does not mean mere repetition or drill of the word," but seeing the word in different and multiple contexts. In other words, it is important that vocabulary instruction provide students with opportunities to encounter words repeatedly and in more than one context.

Restructuring of vocabulary tasks Findings of the National Reading Panel
• • • • • • •

Intentional instruction of vocabulary items is required for specific texts. Repetition and multiple exposures to vocabulary items are important. Learning in rich contexts is valuable for vocabulary learning. Vocabulary tasks should be restructured as necessary. Vocabulary learning should entail active engagement in learning tasks. Computer technology can be used effectively to help teach vocabulary. Vocabulary can be acquired through incidental learning. How vocabulary is assessed and evaluated can have differential effects on instruction. Dependence on a single vocabulary instructional method will not result in optimal learning.

It is often assumed that when students do not learn new vocabulary words, they simply need to practice the words some more. Research has shown, however, that it is often the case that students simply do not understand the instructional task involved (National Reading Panel, 2000). Rather than focus only on the words themselves, teachers should be certain that students fully understand the instructional tasks (Schwartz and Raphael, 1985). The restructuring of learning materials or strategies in various ways often can lead to increased vocabulary acquisition, especially for low-achieving or at-risk students (National Reading Panel, 2000). According to Kamil (2004), "once students know what is expected of them in a vocabulary task, they often learn rapidly."

Incidental vocabulary learning
The scientific research on vocabulary instruction reveals that most vocabulary is acquired incidentally through indirect exposure to words. Students can acquire vocabulary incidentally by engaging in rich oral-language experiences at home and at school, listening to books read aloud to them, and reading widely on their own. Reading volume is very important in terms of long-term vocabulary development (Cunningham and Stanovich, 1998). Kamil and Hiebert (2005) reason that extensive reading gives students repeated or multiple exposures to words and is also one of the means by which students see vocabulary in rich contexts. Cunningham (2005) recommends providing structured read-aloud and discussion sessions and extending independent reading experiences outside school hours to encourage vocabulary growth in students.

Instruction for English language learners (ELLs)

An increasing number of students come from homes in which English is not the primary language. From 1979 to 2003, the number of students who spoke English with difficulty increased by 124 percent (National Center for Education Statistics, 2005). In 2003, students who spoke English with difficulty represented approximately 5 percent of the school population—up from 3 percent in 1979. Not surprisingly, vocabulary development is especially important for English-language learners (ELLs). Poor vocabulary is a serious issue for these students (Calderon et al., 2005). ELLs who have deficits in their vocabulary are less able to comprehend text at grade level than their English-only (EO) peers (August et al., 2005). Findings indicate that research-based strategies used with EO students are also effective with ELLs, although the strategies must be adapted to strengths and needs of ELLs (Calderon et al., 2005). Diane August and her colleagues (2005) suggest several strategies that appear to be especially valuable for building the vocabularies of ELLs. These strategies include taking advantage of students' first language if the language shares cognates with English, teaching the meaning of basic words, and providing sufficient review and reinforcement. Because English and Spanish share a large number of cognate pairs, the first instructional strategy is especially useful for Spanish-speaking ELLs. These students can draw on their cognate knowledge as a means of figuring out unfamiliar words in English. A second instructional strategy for ELLs is learning the meanings of basic words—words that most EO students already know. Basic words can be found on lists, such as the Dale-Chall List (Chall and Dale, 1995). A third instructional strategy that ELLs particularly benefit from is review and reinforcement. These methods include read-alouds, teacher-directed activities, listening to audiotapes, activities to extend word use outside of the classroom, and parent involvement. Strategies for ELLs:
• • •

Take advantage of students' first language Teach the meaning of basic words Review and reinforcement

Lesson model for: Word conciousness
• •

ability to interpret literal and figurative meanings of idioms ability to research origins of idioms

Grade level

Kindergarten and above

• •

whole class small group or pairs

• • • •

small plastic toy horses drawing paper crayons or markers dictionaries

Animal idioms
An idiom is a phrase or expression in which the entire meaning is different from the usual meanings of the individual words within it. Idioms are fun to work with because they are part of everyday vocabulary. Students enjoy working with figurative meanings, as well as imagining possible literal meanings for the expressions. They also enjoy finding out about the origins of idiomatic expressions, some of which are very old. Introducing idioms by topic can make them easier for students to remember. This sample lesson model focuses on introducing idioms that make use of animals or animal comparisons.

Tell students that an idiom is an expression that cannot be fully understood by the meanings of the individual words that are contained within it. The meaning of the whole idiom has little, often nothing, to do with the meanings of the words taken one by one. Point out to students that idioms are often used in writing or speech to make expression more colorful and that some of the most colorful English idioms make use of animals or animal comparisons. Explain that many idioms have interesting origins that may not make literal sense to us today, but made perfectly good sense during the times in which they were coined. Tell students that the expression "to hold your horses" is an idiom. Demonstrate its literal meaning by holding a bunch of small plastic toy horses in your hand. Tell students that when someone tells you "to hold your horses" it would be silly to think that they wanted you to hold a bunch of horses in your hand. The whole expression "to hold your horses" actually means "to slow down, wait a minute, or be more patient." For example, if you were impatiently waiting for your sister to get off the phone, your sister might say to you, "Hold your horses. I'll be off the phone in a minute!" Tell students that "to be raining cats and dogs" is another idiom. Ask students whether, if someone said it's "raining cats and dogs," they would expect to look up and see animals falling from the sky. Then explain to them that "raining cats and dogs" is used to describe when it's raining really heavily or really hard. Ask volunteers to describe a time they remember when it was "raining cats and dogs."

Ask students to draw pictures of the literal meaning of either "to hold your horses" or "to be raining cats and dogs." Then have them take turns showing their illustration and using the idiom correctly in a context sentence.

Collaborative practice
Tell students that they are going to work together in groups to make a drawing of an animal idiom's literal meaning and then act out its real, or figurative, meaning. They will see if the drawings and skits they make provide enough information for their classmates to figure out what the idiom really means. To begin, select a group of three students to demonstrate the activity. Tell this group that their idiom is "to let the cat out of the bag" and that this idiom means "to give away a secret." Divide the group tasks as follows: One student will draw the idiom the way it would look if it meant literally what it said: by drawing a sketch of a cat leaping out of a paper bag. This student labels the drawing with the idiom, "to let the cat out of the bag." The other two students develop a brief skit about the figurative meaning of the idiom: "to give away a secret." For example, they could develop a simple scene where someone finds out about a surprise birthday party, because a brother or sister gives it away beforehand. The last line could be: "You let the cat out of the bag." When the group is finished, have them show the idiom's literal meaning in the drawing, and then act out its figurative meaning in the skit. Have the group challenge their classmates to guess the idiom's figurative, or intended, meaning and then correctly use the idiom in a sentence: Nancy let the cat out of the bag when she told Nick about the surprise birthday party. When the whole class has understood how this activity works, assign a different animal idiom, with its figurative meaning, to other groups of students. Each group then works out its plan for making the drawing and acting out the skit. Have the groups take turns demonstrating their idioms to the class, so the class can guess the idiom's figurative meaning and use it in a sentence.

Animal idioms
• • • • • • • • • •

to have ants in your pants to take the bull by the horns to let the cat out of the bag to have the cat get your tongue to be raining cats and dogs the straw that broke the camel's back to have a cow to wait until the cows come home to be in the doghouse to let sleeping dogs lie

• • • • • • • • •

to be in a fine kettle of fish to seem a little fishy to live high on the hog to look a gift horse in the mouth to eat like a horse to hear it straight from the horse's mouth to hold your horses to put the cart before the horse to change horses in midstream

English-language learner: Learning about idioms can be particularly helpful for ELLs because the gap between the literal meaning of individual words and the intended meaning of the expression often causes trouble in translation.

Lesson model for: Word-meaning recall

ability to remember word meanings

Grade level

Grade 3 and above

• • •

whole class small group or pairs individual

Sample texts
• •

"Alaska Adventure" (Resources) "Studying the Sky" (Resources)

Keyword method
Mnemonic strategies are systematic procedures for enhancing memory. The word mnemonic comes from Mnemosyne, the name of Greek goddess of memory. The keyword method, a mnemonic strategy, has been shown to be effective with students who have learning difficulties and those who are at risk for educational failure. According to the National Reading Panel, the keyword method may lead to significant improvement in students' recall of new vocabulary words. This sample lesson model targets two contextualized vocabulary words. The same model can be adapted and used to enhance recall of vocabulary words in any commercial reading program.

Direct Explanation
Explain to students that you are going to show them how to use the keyword method, a useful strategy for remembering the meanings of vocabulary words. Tell them you are going to model the strategy twice, using the words archipelago and lunar.


Define the target word

Read aloud the following sentence from "Alaska Adventure." The Aleutian archipelago stretches for more than a thousand miles. Then tell students that an archipelago is "a group of islands."

Think of a keyword for the target word Say: To help me remember the meaning of the word archipelago, a group of islands, I am going to think of another word, called a "keyword." The keyword is a word that sounds like archipelagoand also is a word that can be easily pictured. My keyword for archipelago is pelican. Pelican sounds like archipelago and is the name of a water bird with a very large bill.

Link the keyword with the meaning of the target word Explain to students that the next step is to create an image of the keyword pelican and the meaning of the target word archipelago interacting in some way. Tell them it is important that the keyword and the meaning actually interact and are not simply presented in the same picture. On the board, sketch a picture of a pelican flying over a group of small islands. Say: Look at the picture of the pelican flying over the group of islands. Ask: Pelican is the keyword for what word? (archipelago) Say: Yes, archipelago. To recall the meaning of the word archipelago, imagine a pelican flying over a group of small islands.

Recall the meaning of the target word Tell students that when they see or hear the word archipelago, they should first think of its keyword and then try to remember the picture of the keyword and the meaning interacting. Ask: What is the keyword for archipelago? (pelican) In the sketch, where was the pelican flying? (over a group of islands) Say: Right, over a group of islands. Ask: So what does archipelago mean? (a group of islands)

English Language-Learners: Point out to Spanish-speaking ELLs that archipelago and archipélago are cognates.

Lesson model for: Contextual analysis

ability to recognize types of semantic context clues

ability to use context clues to infer word meanings

Grade level

Grade 4 and above


Context Clues

• • •

whole class small group or pairs individual

Teaching chart

Types of Helpful Context Clues (Resources)


copies of Types of Helpful

Context clues chart
• •

transparencies blue, red, and green overhead transparency markers

Introducing types of context clues
Instruction in specific types of context clues is an effective approach for teaching students to use context to infer word meanings. Baumann and his colleagues recommend teaching five types of context clues: definition, synonym, antonym, example, and general. This sample lesson model can be adapted and used to enhance contextual analysis instruction in any commercial reading program.

Direct explanation
Tell students that they can sometimes use context clues to figure out the meaning of an unfamiliar word they come across in their reading. Remind them that context clues are the words, phrases, and sentences surrounding an unfamiliar word that can give hints or clues to its meaning. Caution students that although these clues can prove to be helpful, they can sometimes be misleading.


Definition context clues
Give students copies of the Types of Helpful Context Clues chart. Briefly go over the chart, identifying the types of context clues and discussing the example for each one. Tell students that they should refer to the chart as they learn more about the five different types of context clues. Explain to students that in a definition clue the author provides the reader with the specific definition, or meaning, of a word right in the sentence. Point out that words such as are, is, means, and refers to can signal that a definition clue may follow. Then print the following sentences on a transparency: A conga is a barrel-shaped drum. At night your can see constellations, or groups of stars, in the sky. Read aloud the first sentence. Say: I'm going to look for a context clue to help me understand the meaning of the word conga. Underline conga in blue. Say: In the sentence, I see the word is. The word is can signal a definition context clue. Underline is in red. Say: The phrase a barrel-shaped drum follows the word is. Underline the context clue in green. Say: A conga is a barrel-shaped drum. The author has given a definition context clue. For more vocabulary lesson plans, purchase CORE's Vocabulary Handbook For more information about vocabulary, browse the articles, multimedia, and other resources in this special section: Topics A-Z: Vocabulary. References

Click the "References" link above to hide these references. August, D., M. Carlo, C. Dressler, and C. Snow. 2005. The critical role of vocabulary development for English language learners. Learning Disabilities: Research & Practice 20 (L), pp. 50-57.

Beck, I.L., M.G. McKeown, and L. Kucan. 2002. Bringing words to life:Robust vocabulary instruction. New York: Guilford. Calderón, M., D. August, R. Slavin, D. Duran, N. Madden, and A. Cheung. 2005. Bring words to life in classrooms with English-language learners. In E.H. Hiebert and M.L. Kamil (eds.), Teaching and learning vocabulary: Bringing research to practice. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbraum. Chall, J., and E. Dale 1995. Readability revisited: The new Dale-Chall readability formula. Brookline, MA: Brookline Books. Cunningham, A.E. 2005. Vocabulary growth through independent reading and reading aloud to children. In E.H. Hiebert and M.L.Kamil (eds.), Teaching and learning vocabulary: Bringing research to practice. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbraum. Cunningham, A.E., and K.E. Stanovich. 1998. What reading does for the mind. American Educator. 22, pp. 8-15. Graves, M.F. 2000. A vocabulary program to complement and bolster a middle-grade comprehension program. In B.M. Taylor, M.F. Graves, and P. Van Den Broek (eds.), Reading for meaning: Fostering comprehension in the middle grades. Mew York: Teachers College Press. Kamil, M.L. 2004. Vocabulary and comprehension instruction: Summary and implications of the National Reading Panel finding. In P. McCardle and V. Chhabra (eds.), The voice of evidence in reading and research. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes. Kamil, M.L., and E.H. Hiebert. 2005. Teaching and learning vocabulary: Perspectives and persistent issues. In E.H. Hiebert and M.L. Kamil (eds.), Teaching and learning vocabulary: Bringing research to practice. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum. National Center for Educational Statistics. 2005. The condition of education. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education. National Reading Panel. 2000. Teaching children to read: An evidence-based assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction. Washington, DC: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Schwartz, R.M., and T.E. Raphael. 1985. Concept of definition: A key to improving students’ vocabulary. Reading Teacher 39, pp. 198-203. Scott, J.A., and W.E. Nagy. 2004. Developing word consciousness. In J.F. Baumann and E.J. Kame’enui (eds.), Vocabulary instruction: Research to practice. New York: Guilford.

Stahl, S.A. 2005. Four problems with teaching word meanings (and what to do to make vocabulary an integral part of instruction). In E.H. Hiebert and M.L. Kamil (eds.), Teaching and learning vocabulary: Bringing research to practice. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

August, D., M. Carlo, C. Dressler, and C. Snow. 2005. The critical role of vocabulary development for English language learners. Learning Disabilities: Research & Practice 20 (L), pp. 50-57. Beck, I.L., M.G. McKeown, and L. Kucan. 2002. Bringing words to life:Robust vocabulary instruction. New York: Guilford. Calderón, M., D. August, R. Slavin, D. Duran, N. Madden, and A. Cheung. 2005. Bring words to life in classrooms with English-language learners. In E.H. Hiebert and M.L. Kamil (eds.), Teaching and learning vocabulary: Bringing research to practice. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbraum. Chall, J., and E. Dale 1995. Readability revisited: The new Dale-Chall readability formula. Brookline, MA: Brookline Books. Cunningham, A.E. 2005. Vocabulary growth through independent reading and reading aloud to children. In E.H. Hiebert and M.L.Kamil (eds.), Teaching and learning vocabulary: Bringing research to practice. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbraum. Cunningham, A.E., and K.E. Stanovich. 1998. What reading does for the mind. American Educator. 22, pp. 8-15. Graves, M.F. 2000. A vocabulary program to complement and bolster a middle-grade comprehension program. In B.M. Taylor, M.F. Graves, and P. Van Den Broek (eds.), Reading for meaning: Fostering comprehension in the middle grades. Mew York: Teachers College Press. Kamil, M.L. 2004. Vocabulary and comprehension instruction: Summary and implications of the National Reading Panel finding. In P. McCardle and V. Chhabra (eds.), The voice of evidence in reading and research. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes. Kamil, M.L., and E.H. Hiebert. 2005. Teaching and learning vocabulary: Perspectives and persistent issues. In E.H. Hiebert and M.L. Kamil (eds.), Teaching and learning vocabulary: Bringing research to practice. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum. National Center for Educational Statistics. 2005. The condition of education. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education.

National Reading Panel. 2000. Teaching children to read: An evidence-based assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction. Washington, DC: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Schwartz, R.M., and T.E. Raphael. 1985. Concept of definition: A key to improving students’ vocabulary. Reading Teacher 39, pp. 198-203. Scott, J.A., and W.E. Nagy. 2004. Developing word consciousness. In J.F. Baumann and E.J. Kame’enui (eds.), Vocabulary instruction: Research to practice. New York: Guilford. Stahl, S.A. 2005. Four problems with teaching word meanings (and what to do to make vocabulary an integral part of instruction). In E.H. Hiebert and M.L. Kamil (eds.), Teaching and learning vocabulary: Bringing research to practice. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum. Diamond, L. & Gutlohn, L. (2006). Vocabulary Handbook.Consortium on Reading Excellence, Inc. Reproduction of this material is prohibited without permission from the publisher.