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Total Physical Response Storytelling

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Keywords: Book Making, Foreign Language, TPR, TPRS
Subject(s): Foreign Language
Grades 5 through 12
Original Author: Nathan Lutz, DeWitt
Project: Elementary School World Languages – French and Spanish Year-End Project

Grade level: 5th grade


TPRS (Total Physical Response Storytelling) is a teaching method for languages. It provides a critical vehicle – storytelling – to utilize and expand acquired vocabulary by contextualizing it in high-interest stories which students can hear, see, act out, retell, revise and rewrite. TPRS is based on the fact that elementary children learn best by doing. They are asked to recognize different words and respond to them long before they are asked to say them.

TPRS provides a language-rich environment that promotes World Language learning by what sounds right. TPRS provides natural language acquisition in humorous, non-stressful situations. It teaches students to relate language to actual objects and actions.

TPRS promotes long-term memory retention because it is visual, physical, acoustical and contextual.


-Students will use the target language to write and narrate the stories performed in class.
-Students will express themselves through acting and posing for pictures.
-Students will effectively operate a digital camera.
-Students will make a document with photos and captions.
-Students will produce a web page version of their books.
-Students will make a recording of their story and upload it to accompany their electronic version.


After having listened to stories and acting them out throughout the year, it is now up to the students to do their own story writing! In small groups, students will brainstorm and write a novel story, based on vocabulary and grammatical structures learned throughout the school year. Students will act out their stories and pose for still shots. Each still shot will illustrate vocabulary and grammar crucial to the development of their story.

The students will then upload the photos onto computers, and manipulate them by placing them into documents. The students will add captions to the photos, thus writing the storyline. Students will then put the photos together to illustrate the stories they have written. Once assembled, the students will bind their story.

As a follow up activity, students will produce an electronic version of their story. Students will narrate their stories in the target language (French or Spanish, depending on their class) to be uploaded with their web page. These stories will then be placed on the school’s website so parents can listen to the stories performed by their children.
Materials: Point and Shoot, Word Processor, Web Page, Slideshow, xD Memory Cards, Flash/USB Drives, Batteries
Other Items: 3 256MB memory cards, $30 each, total of $90.00
2 cases photo quality paper, $50 each, total of $100.00
7 color ink cartridges, $40 each, total of $280.00
Binding supplies, $20 each
Total, $490 each