Effortless English Archives

Automatic English For The People

Friday, April 29, 2005

Putting the TPR into TPRS

by AJ

Monday class: As I cruised through my story, I noticed the students. Most were watching, but with blank faces. A few nodded off, or struggled to keep their eyes awake. I upped my energy level and talked louder to keep their attention. At the end of class I felt worn out.

Thursday class: Every student's eye is one me... they are absorbed in the story as I tell it. I jump and act, but feel no need to exhuast myself. At the end of class, I feel more energetic than when it started.

The difference between Monday's and Thursday's class: gestures. Specifically, the students gestured and acted as I told the story.

Ive been telling stories for the past three weeks... using drawings, gestures, and actions to boost comprehension. But I have not physically involved the students. Really, I have not been using TPR Storytelling, but rather, ALG (nothing wrong with ALG, but Im trying to perfect TPRS).

So my task, I realize, is to put the Total Physical Response back into my stories. I did this (only a little) in my Thursday class at Mihara and it transformed the lesson. This time, I had students perform the actions and gestures at their desks while I did them at the front of the class.

The most immediate result: they were sucked into the story, involved in it (instead of passively listening), and thus they were more attentive. This helped them remember the story and retell it later.

So it was a good step, but I need to go farther. I need to teach the key vocabulary and story elements with gestures FIRST.... before beginning the story.

For example, say "walk" and stomp my feet while walking. Then say "walk" and have the students stomp their feet at their desks. I need to do this, especially, with new vocabulary or grammar structures.

So the first segment of the lesson becomes a modified TPR lesson. They acquire the vocab first, before hearing it in the story. By doing this, the story becomes more comprehensible. Also, the students can then focus on the MEANING of the story rather than the language in it (ie. ALG).

My new plan: Go through the story and underline key vocabulary and new vocabulary (and grammar). Develop gestures/actions for each... ones that can be performed while sitting (necessary for Japanese students who are terrified of being in front of the class).

Ill run them through these actions/gestures as a game, before the story. Once they are responding instantly to all of them, I can kick in with storytelling because they will be ready (and should be able to write less on the board as a result).

I strolled out of class on Thursday with a smile. I knew I had a long way to go, but for the first time I glimpsed the full power of TPRS. Id learned a new lesson, and was eager to apply it.