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AHMAD SYUKRI             :    408 445

IMRA ATUL HUSNI       :  408 843

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  1. Background

Total physical response (TPR) is a language teaching method built around the coordination of speech and action, it attempts to teach language through phsycal (motor) activity. Developed by james asher, a proffessor of psycology at san jose university, california, it draws on several traditions, including develop mental psycology. Learning teory, humanistic pedagogy, as well as on language teaching prosedures proposed by harold and dorothy palmer in 1925.

Total phsycal response is linked to the “trace theory” of memory in psychology , which hold as that the more often or the more intensively a memory connection is traced, the stonger the memory assosiation will be and the more likely it will be recalled.

Asher’s emphasis on the developing comprhension skill before the learner is taught to speak links him to a movement in foreign language teaching sometime referred to as the comprehension approach. This refers to several different comprehension – based language teaching proposals, which share the belief that:

  1. Comprehension abiliteis precede productive skills in learning a language.
  2. The teaching of speaking should be delayed until comprehension skills are established.
  3. Skills acquired though listening transfer to other skills.
  4. Teaching should emphasize meaning rather than form
  5. Teaching should minimize learner stress

The emphasis on comprehension and the use of physical actions to teach a foreign language at an introductory level has a long tradition in language teaching.


  1. Approach

Theory of language

Asher does not directly discuss the nature of language or how languages are organized This is an interesting claim about language but one that is insufficiently detailed to test. For example : are tense, aspect, Article, and so forth, abstraction, and if so, what short of “ detailed  cognitif map” coulld be constructed withoud them?

Theory of learning

Asher’s language theories are reminiscent of the views  of others  behavioral psycologist. For examples, the psycologist arthur jensen proposed sevent-stage model to describe the developmentof verbal learning in children.

Asher has elaborated an account of what he feels facilitates or inhibit foreign language learning. For this dimension of is learning theory he draws on three rather influential learning hypoteses:

  1. There exists a specific innate bio-program for language learning, which defines an optimal path for first and second language development.
  2. Brain lateralization defines different learning language function in the left and right brain hemisperes.
  3. Stress (an effective filter) intervenes between the act of learning and what is to be learned : the lower the stress, the greater the learning

Let us consider how Asher view each of these in turn.

1)      The Bio-Program

Asher’s total physical response is “natural method”, in as much as Asher sees first and second language learning as paralel processes. Second language teaching n learning should reflect the naturalistic processes of first language learning. Asher sees three processes as central :

  1. Children develop listening competence before the develop the ability to speak.
  2. Children’s ability in listening comprehension is acquired because children are require to respond physically to spoken language in the form of parental commands.
  3. Once of fondation in listening comprehension has been established, speech evolves naturally and effortlesly out of it.

2)      Brain Lateralization

Asher sees total physical response as dericted to right brian learning, where is most second language teaching methods are directed to left brian learning. Asher refers to neorological studies of the brian and studies of epileptic boy whose corpuss collosum was surgically devided. Drawing on word Jean Piaget, Asher holds that the child learner acquires language through motor movement – a right hemisphere can process language for production.

Similarly, the adult should process to language mastery through hemisphere motor activities while the left hemisphere whacth and learn. When a sufficient among of right hemisphere learning has takken place, the left hemisphere will be triggerred to produce  language and to initate other, more abstract languge processes.

3)      Reduction of stress

An important condition for succesful language learning is the absence of stress the key to stress free learning is to tap into the natural bio program for language deelopment and thus to recapture relaxed and pleasurable experiences that accompany first language learning.

  1. Design
  1. Objective

The general objective of total physical response are to teach oral proficiency at a beggining level. Comprehension is a means to an end, and the ultimate aim isto teach speaking skill.

  1. The Syllabus

The type of syllabus Asher uses can be inferred from an analysis of the excercise type employyed in TPR classes. This analysis reveals the use of a sentence based syllabus, with grammatical and lexical criteria being primary in selecting teaching items.

  1. Types of Leaning and teaching activities

Imparative drills are the major classroom activity in TPR. They are typically used to elicit physical action and activity on the part of the learners. Asher rationale for this is that “everyday conversation are hidely abstract and disconnected : therefore to understand them requires a rather advanced internalization of the target language”. So the activities are imperative drills to elicit physical action.

  1. Learners roles

Learners in TPR have the primary roles of listener and performer. The listen attentively and respond physically commands given by the teacher. Here, lerner as listener and performer, and little influence over the content of learning.


  1. Teacher roles

The teacher plays an active and direct role in TPR. The teacher is encouraged to be well prepared and well organized so that the lesson flows smoothly and predictable. The teacher has trhe responsibility of providing the best kind of exposure to language so that the learner can internalize the basic rules of the target language. In this type, teacher will be active because of direct role. The director of a stage play with students as actors.

  1. The role of instructional materials.

There is generally no basic text in TPR course. Material and realia play in increasing role, however in later learning satges. For absolute beginner, lesson may not require the use of materials, since the teacher voice, actions, and gestures may be sufficient basis of classroom activities. At the course developes, the teacher will need to make or collect supporting material soppurt teaching point.



















Brown, H.Douglas. 1994. Teaching By Principles. New Jersey : Prentice Hall Regents.

Richards, Jack C, and Theodore S. Rodgers. 1986. Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching. Melbourne : Cambrige University Press.


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