Introduction to TPR (Total Physical Response)

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Purpose:  Total Physical Response (TPR) is a method of teaching that connects language with physical movement. Movement in language learning is an excellent way to boost memory. This listening activity helps to build learners’ understanding of language, and allows them to demonstrate understanding in a physical and low-pressure manner. Movement in the classroom also contributes to lowering learner stress levels.

Preparation Time:  None

Materials Needed:  A list of 4-8 movement-based commands


  1. Tell the class to listen and watch. Say a command while doing the movement associated with it.


Stand up.

Sit down.

Pick up your pencil/notebook/pen.

Put down your pencil/notebook/pen.

Give your friend your pencil/notebook/pen.

Turn around.


Look around

The commands can also be based on vocabulary that the learners are studying in class. For example, if they are learning language associated with cooking, example commands could be:

Cut the vegetables.

Wash the dishes.

Stir the rice.

Pour the water.

  1. Say the command while doing the movement, and have the class copy the movement.
  2. Say the command without moving, and have the class continue to do the movement. Repeat until they can do the movement with ease.
  3. Repeat steps 1-3 with several other command phrases.
  4. Mix up the order of the commands while the class acts out the accompanying movements.

Expansion 1: Call on a learner to come to the front of the class and be the teacher. The learner will call out commands while the rest of the class follows. Have other learners volunteer.

Expansion 2: If you have time, ask the learners to come up with additional commands and movements associated with them. Practice the new commands together as a class, then add them into the mix of commands.

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