No more TPR for me. It has an artificial feeling to it and, like circling, brings up that engagement of the conscious faculty of the learner in the moments of comprehension, which conscious engagement interrupts the flow of the learner’s focus only on meaning, which is a colossal mistake in this work, if I understand the research correctly**. It’s just a bother.
Yes I do light TPR during a story, but I do not do it separately so that my students can learn yet another list. I only do it to further comprehension. I make instructional decisions very much on intuition, and TPR is in my view best done very lightly during instruction – just airbrushed in, so that the supremely important focus on meaning – which alone drives acquisition – can be uninterrupted and unfettered. Thus we respect the natural process.
**as I understand it, Krashen doesn’t say that we should “kind of intermittently” be focused on the meaning if we are to acquire the language, but rather be fully focused on the meaning of what is being said to the exclusion of any injected conscious focus by the instructor on anything. This is how I read Krashen. We can keep the learner’s focus 100% on meaning via airbrushing TPR, but once we do that in a more heavy-handed way, we lose, disrupt, meddle with the unconscious factor. If we don’t keep EVERYTHING IN THE REALM OF THE UNCONSCIOUS MIND, then acquisition is grossly hampered. So “airbrushing” in input – conveying meaning via a very fast – super fast and therefore unnoticed by the learner – gesture is the only kind of TPR or circling that I want to allow myself to do from now on.



4 thoughts on “TPR/Airbrushing”

  1. The most “to” I did last year was playing Simon says as a brain brain. The purpose was to just play. Embedded gestures to me are used within a story to establish meaning. For example a new verb comes up that I Know will be used in the future. So I quickly make a gesture myself then move on and start using it. We shouldn’t require the kids to so it. It’s there if they need it. I’ll do it regardless.

  2. I’m sure we’re all like this, but I’m always tinkering with my classes. They are never the same twice. This summer quarter I am using TPR in my Spanish I class, and I think it’s really helping comprehension.
    My reasoning to include it was simple: When I learned Spanish as a high school student (my teacher used tons of stories, and I’m convinced he went to a TPRS workshop), I found TPR to be an incredibly useful tool. I can still remember most of the gestures we made up for different words all these years later (I can even picture where I was sitting in the classroom when we made up the gesture).
    My implementation: I’ve got a 90 minute class, four days per week. I spend 10 minutes on Monday going over a short list (~20 words pulled from the story we are going to make up and read) and they make up the gestures. Tuesday-Thursday we spend 5 minutes out of 90 going over the words and gestures.
    I will agree, though, that it’s not as natural as the way I teach my son. We just talk and laugh and acquisition happens over time.
    Sadly, my college students only have 8 weeks to be ready to move on to Spanish II. What we do at the college level is borderline insane (pero eso es otro cuento).

  3. Alisa Shapiro-Rosenberg

    I don’t think I- and I certainly hope I don’t – interrupt the meaning with a chunk of decontextualized TPR. To my mind my TPR is laid in to support meaning; attaching a concrete gesture adds another foundational pillar of support to meaning, and simultaneously provides a fun sensory break/stim while my young learners are trying to negotiate meaning. I have noticed that when a kid is voluntarily occasionally fumbling for a word, providing the gesture helps shorten the distance to their mouth! It’s a device like a mnemonic – it can trigger the word.

    1. In my experience elemetary school kids (year 1 – 4) enjoy moving around a lot. I did quite some action series in my fourth grade with the help of a TPR-tape and they kept asking for more. For them it’s play acting and bc of the previous years of verbal input they easily understand or can gues and in case of an understanding-emergency, I can always help.

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