Monday, June 25, 2012

Best Practices for Language Learners Week: TPR

The time has finally come! The kickoff to the "Best Practices for Language Learners" (Guest Blogger Week)! I cannot say with more enthusiasm how excited I am for all of the A-maaaazing posts these guests bloggers have put together to share with you. A new one will be up each day throughout the rest of this week, so don't forget to check back! As I said previously, the point of this week truly is to get some wisdom out there in regards to strategies and activities to best meet the needs of this student population. So without further ado....I present to you my kickoff post:

TPR- have you heard of it? If not, here is the quick lowdown. TPR stands for Total Physical Response, and it is a process of comprehending/learning language and vocabulary through physical movement. I use TPR nearly every single day in my classroom with my kiddos, and they cannot get enough of it. 

Here are some examples of how I may use TPR on a daily basis:

*Before beginning to read a new text, I work with my students to frontload key vocabulary. To do this, we may use TPR. I present the students with a vocabulary term and usually a corresponding picture. Then I will present them with a physical action that corresponds with the term or we will develop one together. For instance, if the word is "jog", I will present them with a picture of someone performing this action, then we will practice jogging ourselves as well. To reinforce the vocabulary, we continue to repeat the words with the actions so that the students are able to equate the two. Now they will not only be able to recognize new vocab in the text, but understand its meaning as well.

* TPR works wonderfully for science and social studies concepts. For instance, when we studied plants, not only did we look at diagrams of plant parts, read and write about their purposes, etc. We were the plants! To do this, I first shared with my students using pictures the name of each plant part and it's purpose. Then I demonstrated an action to them that we could use to represent that plant part and its job. Then it was my students turn to do the actions as I stated the terms and their purpose. After much practice, I left my role as leader and put the students in charge. In small groups, they practiced sharing the plant parts and their purposes while their partners acted them out. I could refer back to these terms and actions at any point during the unit, and you bet your bottom dollar my students remembered what they meant :)!

* I do dictation sentences with my students for spelling each week that correspond with the "big idea" or theme of that week as well as the spelling pattern to be studied. TPR is a wonderful introduction to their sentences each week. For example (and this is not a sentence I have used in my class, just one off the top of my head), let's say we have the sentence: The cow jumped over the moon. Actions can be demonstrated to students first in isolation for key vocab terms- cow, jumped over, moon. Continue to repeat these words until it appears students are comfortable with the actions. Then, work to have them utilize them as you read the sentence. They will perform the actions as you come to each word demonstrating their comprehension. Finally, as I explained above with the plant example, you can have students work in partners or small groups to read the sentence and complete the actions and/or have them draw a picture to represent it. The possibilities are endless. You can even do this with whole paragraphs!

Here is a short video I found on TPR for you guys, to further explain how it can be used.  Lovin' this man and kiddos British accents :)! Please let me know if you have any questions, and don't forget to check back tomorrow for more useful strategies from our first guest blogger!


  1. Ooo, TPR. I learned about TPR in my ESL Methods class this past fall and LOVED IT! My teacher spoke Chinese so she taught us a lesson in Chinese about ocean animals and used TPR and we all totally understood the lesson!

    I want to learn more about it for sure. Thank you so much for sharing!!

    Marvelous Multiagers!

  2. Thank you so much for writing this and for this blog series! I am such a fan of your blog; there are not many dual language/bilingual blogs out there! Let me ask you a question; this year I will be implementing the Daily Five in my literacy block, which I teach completely in Spanish. How would translate the Daily Five? El Cinco Diario? Los Cinco Diario? Just curious! :)

    1. I went to a workshop on Daily 5 in which a teacher utilized it in a dual classroom and she called it "Las cinco de todos los dias". I intend to call it "Las súper cinco" in my classroom (to go with my theme) when I begin to implement it this year! Hope this helps!

  3. Isnt' it funny how much you end up speaking with your arms? I have to remember when I'm around family that they understand just fine what I'm saying without TPR :)
    First Grade Dual

  4. One of my teachers did TPR with us when I was learning Spanish! I remember him saying it was pretty 'new' at the time- but I loved it, and I learned so much more in his class than I have in any Spanish class since!

    Luckeyfrog's Lilypad