Total Physical Response (TPR)


TPR is based on the premise that the human brain has a biological program for acquiring any natural language on earth – including the sign language of the deaf. The process is visible when we observe how infants internalize their first language.

The secret is a unique “conversation” between the parent and infant. For example, the first conversation is a parent saying, “Look at daddy. Look at daddy.” The infant’s face turns in the direction of the voice and daddy exclaims, “She’s looking at me! She’s looking at me!” Dr. Asher calls this “a language-body conversation” because the parent speaks and the infant answers with a physical response such as looking, smiling, laughing, turning, walking, reaching, grasping, holding, sitting, running, and so forth.

Notice that these “conversations” continue for many many months before the child utters anything more intelligible than “mommy” or “daddy.” Although the infant is not yet speaking, the child is imprinting a linguistic map of how the language works. Silently, the child is internalizing the patterns and sounds of the target language.

When the child has decoded enough of the target language, speaking appears spontaneously. The infant’s speech will not be perfect, but gradually, the child’s utterances will approximate more and more that of a native speaker.

Children and adults experience the thrill of immediate understanding when you apply this powerful concept in your classroom.

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