Total Physical Response: A Technique for Teaching all Skills in Spanish


  • Eileen W. Glisan

    1. Indiana University of Pennsylvania
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      Eileen W. Glisan (Ph.D. University of Pittsburgh) is Assistant Professor of Spanish at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Indiana, PA.


ABSTRACT  Research in foreign language learning continues to reveal positive effects of an initial listening period with a delay in oral production. Studies have shown that use of Asher's “Total Physical Response” strategy, through which students internalize meaning initially by physically responding to oral commands, results in better listening comprehension, speaking, and reading performance. Despite TPR's acclaimed success, many teachers hesitate to adopt the entire method, because of the lack of explicit guidelines and materials for its use and because of the constraints of traditional language programs. This paper presents a strategy for utilizing an expanded version of TPR as one tool for teaching listening, speaking, reading, and writing in Spanish. Ways are suggested to implement the technique within the language curriculum. Although examples are given for Spanish, the guidelines are applicable to any foreign language program.