Total Physical Response

As you probably know, different people have different learning styles. Some people like to write lists and other people like to hear new words and grammar in examples. Some people prefer to read quietly while others like to interact as much as possible.

Many language teachers try to make classes fun and dynamic. One way they do this is by making you stand up from your chair and move your body while you learn. You can use some of their methods to study on your own!

One of these methods, called the total physical response system, is very useful for learning new vocabulary. Let's get ready to move!

When we use this method, we put body movements together with words or phrases. For example, let's imagine we are learning about vacation vocabulary.

Maybe we are learning the following verbs:
  • reserve
  • check in
  • purchase
  • depart
  • arrive
All alone, these verbs may be difficult to remember. However, if you do not like only writing examples because you want to be more physically active, you can use total physical response.

For example, when you say "reserve" you can put your hand next to your facelike you are talking on the phone. It is common to reserve a hotel room by telephone! For "depart" perhaps you can turn your body to the other direction, and for "arrive" you can take one step forward.

Make up one body movement for each word. Now try practicing with a partner. Put your hand next to your face like you are talking on the telephone. Can your partner remember to say "reserve?" If your partner takes a step forward, will you remember to say "arrive?" Test each other and describe what you are doing with your body in a complete sentence.

This method is not everyone's favorite, but it is a nice change that can make you feel more energized while you study. Have fun!