Future Directions for fast, stress-free learning on the right side of the brain
By James J. Asher, Ph.D. Page 3

Why most students experience success with TPR

As a hypothesis, it may be that most students are more right-brained in processing information. If so, then "school" as it is usually conducted, would not foster successful learning experiences. Hence, any instructional strategy that has built-in brainswitching should be successful with most students for first trial learning, long-term retention, and zero stress. Of course, that is exactly what TPR offers.

We have observed in the typical school population that students with a painful history of difficulties coping with academic content presented through the left brain, excel in language classes that apply TPR. For the first time in their school experience, these students achieve at the same level as the "A" students-the "smart kids." Ironically, these students who have "difficulty" learning are often "written off" by school administrators as "unteachable with low academic aptitude," and hence unprepared for the demands of foreign language classes. After all, they can't cope with classes in their native language, so how can we expect them to manage classes in a foreign language?

There is another powerful advantage to brainswitching instructional strategies especially in school where confinement restricts movement both physically and psychologically. Space is diminished to the territory around one's desk and left brain instruction draws the circle of space even tighter around the individual with the constraint of sitting in a chair, focusing attention and minimal body motion.

With TPR, space expands rather than contracts. Students are in motion using their bodies to respond to directions in the target language. There is instant success followed by nonstop assimilation of the target language. The interaction among students can continue for hours after the TPR class is over. Students can play with the target language using utterances to direct each other:

"Pass the ball to me."

"Come here!"

"Throw the ball to her!"

Stand over here!"

Walk forward three steps!"

Another exciting application of TPR is using the target language in coaching sport's activities. For example, all coaching for soccer could be in Arabic, Chinese, Spanish, or any other target language-because there is instant understanding with directions such as, "Pass the ball to Luke." "Stretch your arms like this to block the pass." "Jump higher!" Students not only improve their skill in a sport but as an additional bonus, acquire another language in the process.

Of course, this strategy of coaching in another language applies to instruction in any vocational skill. A cooking class, for instance, can be done in French as easily as English or Japanese, because directions are transparent to the trainees.

Application to teaching mathematics and science

Skillful brainswitching from left to right and right to left is brain compatible instruction that reaches most students. For example, it is not enough to tell students (which is left brain input). Telling is the favorite mode of input from instructors. Code words for telling include "cover the chapter," or "explain" the concepts.

For example, ask a few people to give you the first thoughts that come into their minds when you say, "algebra." Typical responses are: pain, confusion, equations, unknowns, headache, tension, Xs and Ys. It is apparent from national test scores that "requiring" a course in algebra is not the equivalent of "acquiring" skill in algebra. Requiring is not the same as acquiring.

Algebra is a fundamental skill one needs to operate in higher mathematics, yet few high school graduates feel comfortable or proficient in using this powerful language. Not only do most graduates have zero competency, but they can see no value in this activity. It is perceived as an academic obstacle one must somehow hurdle to graduate. It is beyond the scope of this paper to explore the value of algebra except to hint that algebra is closer to theology than to engineering, an insight known for hundreds of years by spiritual teachers and the great philosophers. The reason, of course, is that the exquisite patterning of mathematics contradicts the randomness hypothesis of human existence. For example, the concept of evolution cannot explain the patterns within mathematics that fit together with a perfection that defies all "laws" of probability.

Consider this simple metaphor suggested by the prolific science writer, Isaac Asimov: If you shuffle a new deck of cards only once, how many times must you shuffle to return the cards to their original arrangement? The answer is that it will require billions of shuffles to get the cards back into the original sequence. If you disturb the arrangement of 52 items, it takes billions of trials to retrieve the initial pattern. In algebra, there are hundreds of items which fit together with astonishing perfection; hence to achieve that fit by randomness would require not billions of shuffles, not trillions of shuffles, but so many shuffles that we do not have an appropriate word in any language.

We attempt to explain the intricate biological patterns of human, animals, plants, and even galaxies as the end-product of billions of years of imperceptible changes. But what about mathematics? There was no evolution. The labyrinth of patterns was discovered rather than invented. The patterns are there without an explanation of how they came to be.

But, let's return to the task of "learning" algebra. I can share a brainswitching strategy that helps all students internalize a simple model of algebra that is rich in meaning and enables them to perform successfully. It involves asking the students to stand up. I ask them to relax, move so that they have room between themselves and the person on either side. Then, I tell them that I know the picture they have as to what algebra is (because they just told me). "Now, let's compare that picture with the picture in my head. Algebra to me is like flying an airplane. Everybody extend your arms out from your body like this" and I demonstrate. "Notice that the plane is flying level. The object of algebra is to fly the plane level. You will know that the plane is level because the equal sign will light up on display panel in the cockpit."

"Now notice how your airplane maneuvers when I turn the wheel like this" (and I turn the imaginary wheel to one direction). As I turn the wheel, students will automatically lower one arm and raise the other to represent that their planes are making a turn. Next, I say, "What will happen if the plane continues in this direction?"

A student will volunteer, "We will crash and burn!"

"That's right!" I respond. "Quickly, tell me what to do."

Another student will exclaim, "Turn the wheel in the opposite direction."

I do so, and the "wings" of the planes in the room move to a level position. "Ah, now we are safe again. The plane is flying level. You can put it on automatic pilot, take out your lunch, and relax."

"Let's make another turn," and we go through the maneuver in the opposite direction. "Notice that anytime you make a turn, the plane is in danger until you turn the wheel back to level the wings. The object in algebra is always to fly the plane level."

Now the students have internalized a model in motion that I can refer to in any algebraic maneuver. For example, in y - y = x, I will comment that the plane is flying level because the equal sign lit up on the display panel of the cockpit. But I want to turn the wheel by eliminating a minus y. "Tell me how to do this."

Someone will advise me to, "Add y to the left side."

"Fine," I respond, "but show me with your body how the plane is flying" and the student will move one arm straight up in the air and the other sloping down. "Are we in danger of crashing?" I ask.

"Yes," a student responds.

"Quickly," I urge, "turn the wheel the other way to level the wings. What must I do?"

A student will help me with, "Add y to the right side."

The cockpit display now reads: y = x + y. The plane is flying level. We are safe until we make another algebraic maneuver.

The Future of TPR

The most exciting application of TPR may be in Europe rather than America . The concept of a "United States of Europe" suggests that it may not be necessary for people in different European countries to "speak each other's language." It may be more realistic for each person trained with TPR instruction to only understand six or more other languages. Speaking those other languages is not necessary because, for instance, a person from England speaks English to someone from Italy and that individual responds in Italian. Everyone speaks in their native language which is most comfortable.

References

Asher, James J. Learning Another Language Through Actions*, Triple-Expanded Sixth Edition, Year 2000. Sky Oaks Productions, Inc., P.O. Box 1102, Los Gatos, California, 95031.

Asher, James J. The Super School of the 21st Century*.

Demonstrates how students of all ages enjoy fast, stress-free learning on the right side of the brain for any subject or skill. Sky Oaks Productions, Inc., P.O. Box 1102, Los Gatos, California, 95031.

Asher, James J. "Year 2000 Update for the Total Physical Response, known worldwide as TPR." You can read this article on the web at: www.tpr-world.com

Asher, James J. "Year 2001 Update for the Total Physical Response, known worldwide as TPR." You can read this article on the web at: www.tpr-world.com

Cabello, Francisco. The Total Physical Response in First Year*. (Can be ordered in English, Spanish, or French.) 2001, Sky Oaks Productions, Inc., P.O. Box 1102, Los Gatos, California, 95031.

Garcia, Ramiro. Instructor's Notebook: How To Apply TPR For Best Results*. Fifth Edition, 2001, Sky Oaks Productions, Inc., P.O. Box 1102 , Los Gatos , California 95031 .

Krashen, Stephen D. "TPR: Still a Very Good Idea." Novelty, Volume 5, Number 4. December 1998.

M?quez, Nancy. Learning with Movements*: Total Physical Response English for Children, 1999. Sky Oaks Productions, Inc., P.O. Box 1102, Los Gatos, California, 95031.

M?quez, Nancy. Apprendiendo con Movimientos*: M?odo TPR Espa?l, 1999. Sky Oaks Productions, Inc., P.O. Box 1102, Los Gatos, California, 95031.

M?quez, Nancy.L'Enseignement Par Le Mouvement*, 1999. Sky Oaks Productions, Inc., P.O. Box 1102 , Los Gatos , California , 95031 .

McKay, Todd. TPR Storytelling: Especially for Students in Elementary and Middle School*, 2001. Available in English, Spanish, or French. Sky Oaks Productions, Inc., P.O. Box 1102 , Los Gatos , California , 95031 .

Ray, Blaine and Contee Seely. Fluency Through TPR Storytelling*. Sky Oaks Productions, Inc., P.O. Box 1102 , Los Gatos , California , 95031 .)

Ray, Blaine. Look, I Can Talk!* (level 1). Look, I Can Talk More!* (level 2). Look, I'm Still Talking!* (level 3). Available in English, Spanish, French, or German. Sky Oaks Productions, Inc., P.O. Box 1102 , Los Gatos , California , 95031 )

Schessler, Eric J. English Grammar Through Actions*.How to TPR 50 grammatical features in English. Sky Oaks Productions, Inc., P.O. Box 1102 , Los Gatos , California , 95031 .

Schessler, Eric J. Spanish Grammar Through Actions*. How to TPR 50 grammatical features in Spanish. Sky Oaks Productions, Inc., P.O. Box 1102 , Los Gatos , California , 95031 .

Schessler, Eric J. French Grammar Through Actions*. How to TPR 50 grammatical features in French. Sky Oaks Productions, Inc., P.O. Box 1102 , Los Gatos , California , 95031 .

Seely, Contee TPR Is More Than Commands At All Levels*. Sky Oaks Productions, Inc., P.O. Box 1102 , Los Gatos , California , 95031 .

Silvers, Stephen M. Listen and Perform: TPR for Elementary and Middle School Children*. (You can order this book in English, Spanish or French.) Sky Oaks Productions, Inc., P.O. Box 1102 , Los Gatos , California , 95031 .

Silvers, Stephen M. Listen and Perform: Teacher's Guidebook*. Sky Oaks Productions, Inc., P.O. Box 1102 , Los Gatos , California , 95031 .

Silvers, Stephen M. The Command Book: How to TPR 2,000 Vocabulary Items in Any Language*. Sky Oaks Productions, Inc., P.O. Box 1102 , Los Gatos , California , 95031 .

Wolfe, David and G. Jones. 1982. "Integrating Total Physical Response strategy in a level 1 Spanish class." Foreign Language Annals 14:273-80.

Woodruff-Wieding, Margaret S. and Laura J. Ayala. Favorite Games for FL-ESL Classes*. Sky Oaks Productions, Inc., P.O. Box 1102 , Los Gatos , California , 95031

Copyright 2001 by James J. Asher, Ph.D.

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