Online Lessons – Using TPR – Part 1

First of all, I’d like to send a warm hug to everyone who is reading this post. We have been living under stressful moments due to an emergency lockdown caused by the COVID-19.

As you know, and based on your own needs, families require your full attention, exceptionally now. You are no longer “only” teaching a subject or a content, you are giving them as much of your attention as possible.

In my opinion, this is what ‘emergency remote teaching’ is all about. Nurturing, not only our students but also their families, with attention, love, and knowledge. We were obliged to change drastically in order to keep the education going (and in order not to lose clients for some). Of course, education must go on, and it will. However, without empathy, students won’t even watch your video lesson or participate in your online live lesson (they will “be” there, on mute and watching or doing something that is more up their alley). Other than empathy, we need to master the subject or topic or content we are teaching, of course, and we have to use a series of methods and approaches to grasp (and maintain) our students’ attention during and after the online lesson (for the platform comments and/or questionnaire or forms participation) and also to trigger and cause content acquirement.

One of them, as the title spoils, is using TPR in your lessons. The Total Physical Response teaching approach, created by Dr. James J. Asher. This Teaching approach is based on how children learn their mother tongues. Well, you know how a child is always learning and copying our every move, even facial expressions? that’s pretty much it. During the child’s early years, even when he/she is not speaking yet, they are internalising all “Say mommy”, “Look at mommy”, “Give me the…” etc and eventually when the decoding takes place, the child starts reproducing the language and parents’ facial expressions quite spontaneously.  

Learning through actions has been and still is a well-discussed topic worldwide and when we talk about bringing movement to the online classroom, at first, you can think – How is this possible? Then, we remember we can do that through songs or games, such as, “Simon says” or we can make things with our students. Besides that, we can use TPR to practise vocabulary connected with actions (smile, wriggle, jump), routine tenses (every morning I brush my teeth, I make my bed, I have my breakfast), imperatives/Instructions (stand up, close your eyes) and storytelling. And as pretty much everything in life – it can be adapted using your creative imagination and your students’ needs!

Why use it now, more than ever? Because it is an enjoyable way of learning and using their bodies. It always lifts learners’ mood. It’s highly effective with young teenagers and (very) young learners. It’s memorable. It involves both left and right-brained learners and more.



Asher, J. (2009) Learning another language through actions. Sky Oaks Productions. 

Total Physical Response by James J. Asher 

Cambridge live series: Fun and physical songs helping children sparkle and shine online! – David Valente 

Beatriz Solino de Francisco

Beatriz holds the Cambridge Train the Trainer and the DELTA Mods II and III(Teaching Exam Lessons). She has a Licentiate’s degree in English Language from PUC SP (2007). CPE level of proficiency and she has been teaching for 15 years. She is an Academic and Pedagogic Coordinator. She is currently doing a Company Management MBA at FGV.

1 Comment
  • Thays Aparecida Souza Santos
    Posted at 21:40h, 16 junho Responder

    Games like using ioga stretching exercises while repeating the months of the year are totally my go-to. I love how TPR can really catch the students’ attention during a group activity because they have to be focused on how they are going to answer the question when their turn comes and be ready to move exactly like instructed.

Post A Comment