Resource 1: Total physical response ideas

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This website gives information about total physical response (TPR) as a way of working in language learning. There are also other discussions you might want to explore.

You can introduce your pupils to many new language structures through game-like activities that involve them responding to instructions with actions (total physical response). Here are some examples of the kinds of instructions that you can give. Focus on one type of instruction at a time, so that the pupils get used to the way the language works.

  1. Body movements

    Stand up.




    Kick the table.

  2. Activities and objects

    Point to the door.

    Pick up the pen.

    Close the window.

    Smell the flower.

    Point to the mountain.

    Point to the woman who is baking a cake.

  3. Activities, objects and people

    Take the pen and give it to Pamela.

    Fetch the book and give it to me.

    Pick up the paper and hand it to Rose.

  4. Add possessives

    Give Rose’s book to Sibeso.

    Bring Pamela’s pen to me.

    Give Songiso his book.

    Give Lufwendo her glasses.

  5. This and that; here and there

    Give this to Sibeso.

    Fetch that from her.

    Take the pen and put it here.

    Fetch the book and put it there.

  6. Space relations

    Put the pen between the two books.

    Put the pen close to the ruler.

    Put the eraser into the box.

    Put the ruler on top of the box.

  7. Add number, colour and size

    Put two pens into the box.

    Take three stones out of the box.

    Pick up the red pen and give it to Rose.

    Put the green book on the table.

    Take the small book and give it to Pamela.

    Put the big book into the box.

  8. Instructions and descriptions, with some speaking

    Do and listen

    Pupil does the action. Teacher (or another pupil) says what they are doing (e.g. ‘You are standing.’)

    Listen and do

    Teacher (or another pupil) instructs the pupil (e.g. ‘Stand.’) Pupil obeys, doing the action.

    True or false

    Pupil learns to say ‘true’ and ‘false’. Teacher (or another pupil) does an action, and makes a true or false statement about what he or she is doing (e.g. ‘I am sitting.’) Pupil says, ‘true’ or ‘false’.

    Listen, mimic and do

    Teacher (or another pupil) instructs pupil. Pupil repeats what is said then obeys the instruction.

    Tell, listen and mimic

    Pupil does the action and describes what they are doing (e.g. ‘I am standing.’) Teacher (or another pupil) restates what the pupil has said and copies the action.

  9. Going outside or using pictures to extend vocabulary

    At the beginning, you need to use known words with new instructions. Once the vocabulary of the classroom is known, you can move to outdoor vocabulary, e.g.:

    Touch the leaf.

    Point to the sky.

    You can also extend vocabulary by making cards with words or pictures on them, e.g. pictures of types of food:

    Take the meat and give it to Pamela.

    Fetch Jamu’s bread and give it to me.

Adapted from:

3. Writing recipes in a new language

Resource 2: Recipes