How TPR Made Me the Funniest and Weirdest Teacher

Kelly is a Qkids teacher from the United States. She has worked with children for over six years in a daycare facility and she has been teaching online for six months! Kelly has worked with children between the age of six weeks and six years old. She helped build an educational curriculum for children between the ages of three and six. When she is not teaching, Kelly is an actress on stage and film. 

How TPR Made Me the Funniest and Weirdest Teacher

If you are a veteran teacher, you're aware of this phenomenon. Being an English teacher online means you have to invest much of your time developing the right TPR (Total Physical Response) technique - a gesture to ensure comprehension. We are all very familiar with the finger to mouth to emphasize speech and hand to ear for listening. When you teach with Qkids, you're typically teaching children between the ages of four to twelve.

TPR is important to visually and physically tie a word to an action that can help the students further understand and remember words and instructions. For example, you may run in place for the action verb “run”.
Due to the frequency of which you use instructional TPR, you may find yourself doing this in your daily life to people in the real world. We often find ourselves using TPR without knowing that we are. Think about the hand motions for children nursery rhymes, such as “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider” or “The Wheels on the Bus.” The motions we do are to help children better remember the words associated with each motion. 
I have worked with children for more than a decade. I worked in a daycare where I cared for and taught children between the ages of one to five. After starting with Qkids, I have found myself repeating the same TPR to children around me in class. It was fine when the children were young. It actually helped them become more engaged. The same can often be said to lower-level classes in your online ESL classes. TPR, not only increases comprehension, but it also makes your classroom more fun and active. 
It may look funny from the outside, but to your students, it makes you someone they want to watch because some of your movements may be really funny and relatable! I love using the American Sign Language sign for ice cream and pineapple!

However, this becomes an issue when you interact with older children. While many ones to five-year-olds are still learning to speak, your interactions with children over five are much more advanced than what you're used to while teaching online. So when you accidentally TPR something simple with them or speak to them very slowly as you would with your online students, you'll receive this look:

So if you ever find yourself doing this to older kids who have no issues with speaking, listening, or comprehension, you’ll probably get asked these questions: Why are you touching your mouth? What are you doing? Miss Kelly, why are you speaking so slow? 
Now if this were to happen once or twice, you can shrug it off and call it a day. But what do you do when it happens every time you interact with a new older kid? Well, you can expect one of these two reactions from your students:


Nevertheless, we cannot dispute the importance of TPR when teaching children a language whether it is their native or second language. TPR movements can vary from teacher to teacher and there is no exact right or wrong answers. Here is a list of very common instructional TPR movements that you may find yourself using every class. 
But the most important tip is to enjoy yourself. Don’t feel pressured to find a way to TPR everything that you do. Sometimes it’s easier to explain certain things with words and if you can’t, draw it out. If you are not running and screaming in class, it does not mean that you aren’t fun or good. Find your own style of teaching and have fun with it! Your students will enjoy your class much more if you are having fun. 



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