VIPKid is an ESL (English as a Second Language) company based out of China. Currently VIPKid serves over a half of million Chinese students with the goal of helping each of those students to become fluent in English. If you are new to VIPKid, you may have a few questions about TPR, and this post is here to hopefully answer those questions. If VIPKid is going to have success, then the VIPKid teachers are going to have to utilize effective teaching techniques. TPR (total physical response) is one such technique and we are going to discuss it in more detail in this post. We are going to look at what TPR is, why is it effective, when VIPKid expects its teachers to use it, and how VIPKid teachers can use it in their classroom. Let’s discuss….
What is TPR?
TPR is a teaching technique which stands for “total physical response” and is used as a teaching method that is effective in helping people learn both primary and secondary languages. It was developed in 1977 by James Asher, a psychology professor at San Diego State University. The premise behind TPR is that people can attach meaning to word and phases using physical movement. The use of TPR requires teachers to speak language with the coordination of a physical movement and the student responds verbally with physical action. It is both a passive and active approach to language instruction and acquisition. The development of TPR was the result of Asher observing the interactions of young children with their parents. He noticed that as children were learning language, the language development resulted from the learners listening, engaging in some type of physical activity and doing both in a passive manner. Like playing charades, TPR relies on the learner activating multiple regions of the brain to acquire a new language.
The Effectiveness of TPR in Language Acquisition
Research has shown that TPR is effective for beginning language learners and recent studies have shown the method to be effective with advanced students as well. Asher conducted research to test his own theories and found that TPR was effective for both children and adults. He claimed that TPR had several advantages such as getting the student completely involved in the learning of the language. TPR is very effective with kinesthetic learners. It is aptitude-free, it is effective with students with disabilities. It seems to effective with a wide range of students with mixed abilities. TPR is compatible with other types of instruction such as with the use with visuals and props. It can be used with other types of activities in which vocabulary is being taught and learned. TPR is a primarily a passive approach because it does not force the student to speak word and phases of which they may be unfamiliar with. It allows students to learn at their own pace. It allows a beginning language learner the opportunity to learn through listening while making physical connections to language they are learning. It helps eliminate the stress associated with learning some foreign and new. Finally, TPR is effective because it is a method that connects to the three basic types of learners: visual, kinesthetic, and auditory.
TPR and VIPKid
VIPKid expects its teachers to utilize TPR in their online classrooms. As you can see from this post, TPR is an effective language learning strategy and since VIPKid is teaching English as a second language to thousands of children, it is no wonder that VIPKid teachers would be expected to use it. Many students at VIPKid are beginning English language learners so utilizing a technique that is widely used to teach babies language is appropriate. Furthermore, TPR can effectively help a wide variety of students so an ESL company that serves over 600,000 students would want its teachers to use a teaching method that can serve many of students with many learning styles and skills. The goal for VIPKid is to help its students become fluent in English and this can only be done through language acquisition not just language learning. The utilization of TPR by VIPKid teachers gives VIPKid the greatest chance of producing fluent English speakers and therefore VIPKid teachers are expected to use it in their classroom for every lesson.
Teaching with TPR at VIPKid
When teaching with TPR at VIPKid, there are a few things for the VIPKid teacher to remember and understand in order to use the technique effectively in helping the students acquire English.
First, the teacher must be prepared to use TPR in every class and understand how to use it. This means the teacher must know what is going to be taught in each lesson in order to gather the appropriate props, pictures, and prepare what movements and actions will be needed to convey meaning. VIPKid teachers use two types of TPR: instructional and educational. A VIPKid teacher needs to be prepared to use both and to use when appropriate. Instructional TPR refers to classroom commands such as sit down, stand up, circle this, or draw a line. Educational TPR refers to TPR that helps convey the meaning of words or phrases that are being learned.
Second, the teacher must model so it is important to be prepared in order to do this. The teacher will speak the command, word, or phase to be learned by the student and then attach it to an action, picture, or prop.
Third, the student must mimic the action or connect the picture of prop while saying the word or phrase.
Fourth, the student must be fully engaged verbally and physically if the word or phrase is to be acquired.
Fifth, the student must be given the opportunity to read or write using the learned word or phases and connect it with both the written and oral language.
Finally, the process must be repeated and practiced for the word and phases to be committed to memory with meaning. Once the process has been completed, the student becomes more comfortable with the new language and will have a greater chance of eventually becoming fluent in the new language in this case, English.
I hope this overview of TPR in the VIPKid classroom has been helpful to you. Now, you know the what, why, when, and how of TPR, make sure you are using it in your classroom for every lesson you teach. VIPKid offers many workshops on TPR and if you are new you should learn all you can to improve your TPR to become a better VIPKid teacher.
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