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Numer: 4230
Przesłano:
Dział: Języki obce

Total Physical Response in the young learner's lexis and communication development

The method of Total Physical Response (henceforth: TPR) was, to some extent, worked out by Michael Lewis and by James Asher. Its present form is the output of the studies made by the latter one. Basing on the method of Natural Approach of Krashen and Trell, and keeping the principles of Comprehension Approach of Winitz and Reed, Asher’s method arrived at the ‘fastest and less stressful way’ in achieving the understanding of any target language by the young learners.
The first principle of this method is to introduce such activities via which the children are taught independently from their native language. The children listen to the teacher and follow his or her instructions. They gain the understanding of the nouns and phrases used in the commands by watching the activity of the teacher who explains his or her commands doing him/herself what he himself or she herself wills. The command ‘Touch the door’ is followed by the teacher’s action (touching the door). This fact enables the participants to follow the instructions of the teacher. Although the instruction may not give the immediate explanation of particular phrases of the sentences formed in imperative, it, nevertheless, enriches the child’s linguistic competence with respect to both the grammar (knowledge of the English imperative sentence structure: Touch-V the-D door-N) and pragmatics (the knowledge of the usage of the structures elicited by the teacher). TPR may serve communication – it makes the course participant aware of the syntactic formulations and enables for the proper usage of sentences in imperative.
As far as the roles are concerned in TPR, the role of the student is to be the course’s passive participant, whose activity is all the time depended on the teacher. The latter’s position is privileged very much, as the children fully depend on the teacher. Their relationship is, from the child’s perspective, the source of knowledge about the language. The pupil observes the person conducting the course and is made engaged into the practical usage of the language, which is accessible for the child as it may experience the meaning with its body.
In respect to the language, the method sets it in the context of body activity. The language is therefore treated in a holistic approach to the human being. This is profitable in the child’s gaining the knowledge about the target language usage.
In detail the method may be applied by three different techniques: using commands to direct behavior, action sequence and role reversal.
It was mentioned at the beginning that TPR makes the course participant aware of the meaning of the phrases and enables for the proper usage of sentences in imperative. There arises a question, though, about the possible usage of the method in the child’s acquiring the knowledge not only of the sentences’ formulation but of the nouns used in certain commands as well. The method might be developed in a number of spheres it already touches upon. One asks therefore: how can the method of TPR develop the participant’s lexis - how can the technique be changed with the aid of other techniques (or even methods) in the aim to be facilitated in nouns teaching? And another question: how can the method be changed to be made more useful in communication? In my opinion the two requirements are fulfilled when the ‘stress’ of the activity falls on the technique of action sequence.

TPR with pictures

I shall picture the usage of the described technique in referring to the assignment suggested by in My First English Adventure 1, a book for young learners, published by Longman (Harlow 2005).
The activity is aimed at teaching the pupils the English names for the house and its rooms. One of the chapters in My First English Adventure’s teacher’s book suggests to give the group only four words to learn. These are: ‘house’, ‘living room’, ‘bedroom’ and ‘bathroom’. As we can see the number is quite limited. That simplifies the learning process on the one hand and, on the other, enables he children to react more quickly to the tasks that will concern their usage.
After being shown three pictures of ‘living room’, ‘bedroom’ and ‘bathroom’ (ibid., p. 13) the children are told their English names. They give signs of their not being familiar with such expressions and seek to find the appropriate names in their native language. The pupils may not be willing to continue with any TPR activity, that will involve using the pictures of the three rooms, until they are given the affirmation for any native names they know. At this moment the assignment touches the Grammar-Translation Method and asks for referring to the technique of memorization. Nevertheless, the teacher is not supposed to refer to the expressions from the native language. In the manner the suggested assignment is facilitated the children are given the English names again. Their elicitation is accompanied by the teacher’s pointing with the finger on the appropriate picture. The children are asked to do the same. The whole group – with the person conducting the course – say ‘bedroom’ and point to bedroom – and so on. My First English Adventure encourages the teacher to say ‘Look, bedroom’, ‘look, living room’ etc. The teacher says the command: ‘Look, bedroom!’ and puts his or her finger on the corresponding picture. The exclamation is repeated and the response from the children’s side is anticipated. I suppose that later the children may be pointing at the bedroom after being told the command: ‘Point to bedroom’ – but an adequate reaction on the teacher’s behalf would be then anticipated by the pupils. They have to know what is expected. The teacher would repeat the same command referring to other pictures and order the children to react to the commands given. After eliciting the names of the rooms and giving the commands, the teacher asks the children to close their books (the command given again in the target language). At this moment the first part of the assignment ends.
After collecting the books the teacher gives the students sets of four cards. He or she asks the course participants to put the cards before them. One of the cards depicts a house (the name for which the children already know). The teacher has his or her own set as well. He or she gives a new command: ‘Show me the bedroom’ and raises the card depicting the noun mentioned. He repeats the question and awaits the pupils’ reaction. The same is done with respect to the rest of the set. I believe that it might have a positive influence on learning if the last picture asked for would be the one depicting the house. If the pupils know the name they will have no difficulty with raising the appropriate card, they might find themselves understanding the command, the word and being to some extent familiar with the language. The activity then would be made an experience that works as a positive feedback, encouraging to learn and use the language. The commands to show a particular card is put in a sequence that is repeated twice or thrice. At this moment the technique of action sequence starts to resemble the one of the Audio-Lingual Method, namely the repetition drill. The children are repeated the English expressions for the rooms depicted, and memorizes it better.
The technique focused on the sequence may be exploited in another way. Following the suggestions from the teacher’s book mentioned the teacher is asked to scatter the pictures of the rooms and the picture of the house around the classroom and ell the children to go and find the right one. A new command would appear: ‘Find the bathroom!’ etc.
Any appliance of the technique requires changing of the sequence. If the children show the appropriate card after the change of the sequence they may be given another feedback. It checks his- or herself whether he or she understood the commands properly, and the nouns as well.

TPR in lexis and communication development

Having described the usage of the TPR method in the cards play I am coming back to the questions. I repeat: how can the action sequence develop the participant’s lexis (how can the technique be changed with the aid of other techniques (or even methods) in the aim to be facilitated in nouns teaching)? And another question: how can the technique be changed to be made more useful in communication?
First of all, some emphasis should be always put on the repetition drill – borrowed from the Audio-Lingual Method. After the described assignment the teacher may try to use a role reversal technique. In this way the children would gain the opportunity to check the words they learned and, thus, improve their communication skills as well as the knowledge of the objects’ names, in the study of whom they were engaged physically.
The technique is, of course, used for making the young learners able to form and listen to commands. In this way it contributes to developing the communication skills. But when used with pictures in the manner described in this paper, the technique also enables them to name the items they see (or the places – the house and rooms in this case).
It will positively influence the learning process – the one concerning the memorization of the nouns and the one that is focused on the communication – the moment the teacher refers to the ‘role reversal’ technique. Then the child would gain the opportunity to repeat the sequence and, maybe, change it according to its own will. Thus, it would check the usage of the sentence formed in the imperative and would make the child try to check the reference of the nouns it has just heard of. These nouns (bedroom, bathroom, living room, house) are in the scope of the teacher-pupil communication.
Lexis and communication prove to be correlated. Giving attention to the nouns in expanding the possibilities of the sequence technique will not only help to extend the child’s vocabulary, but, in my opinion, it will appear to be helpful in perfecting the communication skills. When the objects are dealt with the child can understand and learn the facility of the target language in communication. Communication is usually talking about objects.

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