Term of Art: Total Physical Response

“Total Physical Response: A language teaching method based on the belief that students will learn better when full bodily motion is involved in the process. Developed by educator and researcher James J. Asher, TPR is supposed to replace the traditional learning strategy of sitting at a desk and reading a book. Verbal commands are replaced by physical ones. For example, teachers may teach the alphabet by having students like on the floor to form letter shapes or have students learn punctuation by mimicking the shape of a period, a comma, or an exclamation point. There is some historical precedent for TPR; in the early 19th century, some pedagogues believed that students would learn the alphabet if they ate biscuits in the shape of letters, an ineffective practice that eventually disappeared.”

Excerpted from: Ravitch, Diane. EdSpeak: A Glossary of Education Terms, Phrases, Buzzwords, and Jargon. Alexandria, VA: ASCD, 2007.

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