Theories, Methods & Techniques of Teaching - Total Physical Response

 

Our next particular methodology is accredited to James Asher around 1965 and is called total physical response. Asher looked at the way in which we learn our native language and he saw that most children, before they even went to school, have picked up a very large percentage of both the grammar and the vocabulary that they would use in their native language before any type of formal schooling. So Asher started to have a look at ideas of how to use the whole of our brain in language learning in the way that we do when we're very young. It's accepted that within our brain there are two hemispheres, one is the left hemisphere the other is the right hemisphere, and one of the functions of the left hemisphere is language learning. One of the major functions of the right hemisphere is controlling our body's movement and what Asher said was that when we are young what we tend to do in the way in which we learn language, is to use the whole of our brain whereas formal schooling tends to only use half of it, only the left-hand side. So his idea was to try to introduce movement into the process of learning a language so that we're using the whole brain and therefore doubling the capacity of our learning within that process. So the use of motion and learning would be a fairly typical way of using total physical response. If we, for example, are learning the vocabulary of the parts of the body, then we wouldn't just listen and repeat those particular words but we'd actually use movement. So if we were learning the word for our arm, we would move our arm whilst we were saying that word. If we were learning the word hand, we would use our hand whilst we're learning that word and by bringing those two things together, it was shown that would actually enhance the learning process. One of the main positives points to this particular methodology is that it's very good for young students, for young learners. If you can get the young learners to be moving around whilst they're actually learning, then it will enhance the process of learning and they will enjoy it and it's said to give much longer-term retention of those particular vocabulary words than if you were just to say them without any emotion at all. Some of the negative points for this particular methodology; whilst it is good for young learners, obviously, it wouldn't be so good for one-to-one professional learners or for very high levels of grammar. One of the other requirements of this particular methodology goes back into the way in which we learn our native language. Within our native language, we are listening to what's being said around us but there's a long silent period involved in learning our native language, where we don't say anything we're just absorbing the information and then we start to use it. This long silent period is part of the total physical response approach or methodology and therefore we don't get immediate results from this.


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The methodology of teaching is an interesting journey over the centuries. Commencing with the Grammar Translation method in the 17th Century, it was quite a literal translation from one language to another. This method appears good in theory but only works well where languages comprises similar structures. Given that the English language derived from the Greek and Latin, some words are derivatives and thus a translation could be inferred. Audio-Lingualism appears based primarily on repetitive drills which does work well but full language comprehension goes beyond verbal repetition. The PPP method allowing verbalization and demonstration works well for younger learners but is restrictive for those of higher understanding. It definitely still has positives which could be assimilated into a lesson plan. Task based learning focuses mostly on tasks using the English language but doesn?t provide an all-round approach. The Communication Language Teaching stresses the importance of language functions and can incorporate a lot of role play and simulation. If the student has enough exposure to the language and its use, then further level of comprehension will take care of itself. Again, it doesn?t appear to provide an all-rounded approach. Community Language Learning is very student focussed where they engage as a group and decide what they will talk about, with very little teacher involvement. The Silent Way also has very little teacher involvement and students discover the language that than just repeating and remembering what they have learnt. This uses rods to show different parts of speech which means the students and teachers have to learn what the rods mean. Suggestopaedia is a more relaxed environment where the teacher and students co-exist in a parent-child relationship and provides a ?safe haven? type environment where students feel comfortable to learn. There are three parts, oral review, presentation and discussion, and music plays during discussion. This can be helpful to some, but distracting to others and the noise levels can be a distraction overall. The Lexical Approach focuses more on words and phrases than the grammatical structure. Perhaps the most all-rounded approach is the ESA method ? Engage, Study, Activate. This process provides a lot of flexibility and incorporates many aspects of other methods. Nothing is taught in the Engage stage, it?s a warm up and creates interest and a conducive learning environment through games, pictures or stories. The study phase should elicit as much information as possible from the student before a presentation of the language point ensuring correct pronunciation if required, through drilling exercises. The Activate phase is where students are encouraged to use the langue as freely as possible and encourages use for enhance flexibility, and practice through activities such as role play. ESA can have many Study and Activate stages as required but the lesson should always commence with Engage and conclude with Activity. I find this method has parallels with the VAK (Visual, Audio, Kinaesthetic) approach considered in Training and Assessment, which touches on all learning styles for students, ultimately providing the best scenario for each student to learn and succeed.


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