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All the materials in barebones are working teaching documents 
subject to review, alteration or abandonment in classroom practice.
Anyone is welcome to use this stuff, but copyright remains with
Thor May. Feedback, positive or negative, is very welcome.

ESL materials & ideas developed in Korea

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Total Physical Response - Teaching Notes


1. The Origin of TPR: TPR is a very old teaching/learning concept which was formally given its modern name by James Asher in America.

2. The Principle of TPR: The underlying principle of TPR is that the channels of learning engage all senses: sight, hearing, speaking, taste, touch, smell, and all motor activities. Each individual finds learning easiest through one of these channels, or some combination of them. Traditional classroom activities disadvantage those learners who are not oriented to the particular kinds of stimulation typically found in classrooms. Workplace vocational courses, military forces etc. have always made use of TPR principles.

3. TPR in Language Learning: TPR attempts to engage as many senses as possible in the learning process. In the case of language learning, this will probably mean role playing scripts which provide an opportunity for physical performance, miming etc, as well as speech.

4. Teacher Participation: Many students will not be accustomed to exuberant role playing. The teacher can often overcome this if he/she is emotionally secure enough themselves to play the fool a bit. By hamming up scripts himself, the teacher is in effect giving students permission to do the same themselves.

5. Student-created TPR Scripts: Once they have the idea, more competent students greatly enjoy creating scripts for homework, to be performed the following week. This often works best if the creative work is assigned to pairs or work groups.

6. An Example of TPR in Use: TPR will work with any age group. Young children especially like it. One well known successful Australian primary school program taught all PE (physical education) classes in German. This combined the concepts of language immersion in a selected environment with the physical stimulation of TPR.  





Asher, James 2001 Future Directions for fast, stress-free learning on the right side of the brain”, [accessed November 2001]


Asher, James 2000 “Year 2000 update for the Total Physical Response,
known world-wide as TPR” , [accessed November 2001]


Asher, James 2001 “How to be an All ‘A’ Student” , [accessed November 2001]


TPR-World Internet Site . [Comment: in the timeless tradition of snake oil merchants and language text-book sellers, this site is obviously out to promote a product. However, the transparent commercialism should not, in this case, distract one from whatever real value is to be extracted from the TPR approach].


"TPR teaching notes" copyrighted to Thor May 2001; all rights reserved

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