ESL Term:

TPR Total Physical Response

ESL/EFL Glossary: A Guide to applied linguistics terminology.


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TPR, total physical response:  A teaching technique whereby a learner (usually young learner) responds to language input with body motions. This could be, for example, the acting out a chant. This technique was devised by James Asher who noted that children listen and respond with guestures before they speak.  One benefit is that TPR allows for low anxiety learning since students don't have the stress of producing language. 'Robot' is an example of a TPR activity, where the teacher commands her robots to do some task in the classroom. Acting out stories and giving imperative commands are common TPR activities. Great for early stages but difficult to teach complex language.

Another benefit (and Asher's main justification for TPR as a technique) is that it stimulates right-brain motor skill activity. For more information see the TPR World homepage. For an example of a TPR lesson plan, read Judie Haynes article at