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Automatic English For The People

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Effects of TPRS on teaching vocab to low level students

Last Thursday, in Junior 2 English class, I attempted to teach vocabulary through TPR. The words or phrases were "believe, throw away, and hold on to." At first, I asked the meaning in Japanese and demonstrated the gesture of each words(or phrases). I explained the theory of TPR briefly since this technique was supposed to be new for my students. Then I asked them to show the each gesture. At the beginning, they seemed to be reluctant to show these gesture. Of course, this situation was expected. I gently suggested that they can do gesture in order to find out whether gesture will help them retain vocabulary better or not. Luckily, they started to perform!! After I did "command" three or four times. I used "closed eye" test to check their understanding. They performed very well... However, I could not tell this was very effective for my students to retain vocab more or not in this class.

However, in the next class, when I did gesture with these words and phrases in order to review and see if students still remember or not. All students remembered the meaning of these words. To my surprise, my lowest student was able to answer my question with confidence. " She was able to say "hold on to" when I showed the gesture of it. Usually, she was very shy, and it takes her long time to answer my questions. She hardly answer my question spontaneously. However, this time she answered voluntarily.

Of course, this is just one limited example, but teaching vocabulary through gestures (step 1 of TPRS ) seems to work very well for even Japanese students, especially who have low understanding of English.

Usually, our English teachers teach vocabulary through making list and memorizing. However, many research have already shown that this way does not really work because it does not provide any context and personalization. Students just try to memorize the list of vocabulary for the test and forget after the test because the words and phrases that are memorized in this way do not seem to stick to learners. In other words, they are only stored in short-term memory. Brain research claim that we have three different memory pathways... and TPR(S) utilize all these memory pathways.

I must try to use TPR(S) more so that my students can get benefits from this method. I really hope that my students get more confidence by learning English more easily.

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