will look at the materials used to teach English
at the junior high level (fifth to eighth grades)
in the Amazonas State public schools. To date, experimental
materials based on Total Physical Response—TPR
(Asher, 2000) have been produced for the fifth, sixth,
and seventh grades, and are being used in the public
schools throughout the state. Materials for the eighth
grade are being developed and will be ready for the
In 2000, the first level was introduced in the public
schools. Since the methodology was new to the students
and to most of the teachers as well, it was decided
to have a gradual implementation of the materials and
the method. Thus, for the first year all four grades
(fifth to eighth) used the same set of instructional
materials. Each subsequent year one new level has been
introduced. This year (2002) the fifth grade uses Book
1; the sixth grade, Book 2; and both the seventh and
the eight grades, Book 3. Next year, with the introduction
of Book 4, there will be different materials for each
grade. From the outset it is necessary to point out
that these materials are being developed in two stages.
The first stage has concentrated on the development
of the exercises that use TPR, and will be completed
at the end of this year when the materials for the
eighth grade have been finished. The next stage will
be the development of exercises and activities such
as short readings, guessing games, information gap
activities, opinion gap activities, simple dialogue-like
exchanges, poems, songs, language games, etc.
2. Overview of the Materials
Each book consists
of 14 double-page lessons. The left-hand page is
always a Point and Touch exercise,
while the right hand page has various types of TPR
exercises, as well as some simple writing exercises.
The books also include a brief explanation in Portuguese
on how to use the materials, four short review lessons,
a list of the grammar items, a list of topics and a
word list with the Portuguese equivalents. The materials
also include a teacher’s guide, a set of wall
posters, an audio tape and a set of colored cardboard
figures to be used in some of the TPR exercises.
3. The Methodological Approach
The basic methodology is a combination of (1) Total
Physical Response, and (2) controlled game-like communicative
3.1 Total Physical Response
researched and developed by psychologist James
J. Asher of San José State University
(Asher 1981, 2000), with important contributions
by Garcia (1994), Total Physical Response is a delayed-speaking
approach to language learning in which the students
acquire the target language through listening comprehension
coupled with body movements. Initially the students
do not speak, but instead silently act out commands
given by their teacher. The initial commands are
simple, e.g., Touch your nose, but later increase
in length and complexity to directives such as, Before
you point to the chalkboard, stand up and turn around
twice (Silvers, 1990, 1992).
Our reasons for using TPR as a major classroom technique
are as follows:
use of real objects and actions in the classroom
makes the language concepts more concrete
and easier to grasp.
• The fact that almost everything that the students hear
is related to an action speeds up the linking
of meaning to the sounds and facilitates assimilation.
• The use of the motor-muscular system aids in producing
• The class can be conducted in English, with perfect
comprehension, right from the very first day,
greatly reducing the need for translation.
• Understanding and executing commands is an objective
that is concrete and attainable.
• The students learn to process the oral language instantaneously
• It does not require the teachers to be very proficient
3.2 Controlled game-like communicative practice activities
principal methodological focus is on TPR, there
are plans to include in the next version
of the materials controlled game-like communicative
practice exercises, such as guessing games, information
gap and opinion gap exercises. There are abundant
sources on how to provide practice which, although
is motivating, fun and meaningful. (see Byrne, 1986;
Ur, 1988; Woodruff-Wieding and Ayala, 1989; Silvers,
1982; Ur & Wright, 1992).
4. The Coursebook Contents
4.1 TPR-related exercises
As we have stated, in this first stage of the development
of the materials we have concentrated on exercises
that use TPR. We will now look at the eight types of
TPR exercises developed and used in the four books.
(a) Point and Touch / Ask and Answer
Each lesson begins with a Point and Touch page, taken
from Silvers (2000), and consists of a set of 8 to
12 figures which serve as the cues for two kinds of
exercises: Point and Touch and Ask and Answer. In the
Point and Touch exercises, the students point to or
touch the figure that corresponds to the sentence uttered
by the teacher or their pair work partner, for example,
Point to the scientist; Touch the carpenter. This is
a simple TPR exercise which is less active than the
classical exercises such as walking to the door. The
Ask and Answer exercises give structured practice in
asking and answering both Yes-No and Wh-questions.
Developed with the idea of offering simple, quiet
exercises that can be performed by the students at
their seats, either with the whole class or with the
students working in pairs, these exercises offer a
systematic and graded presentation of, and practice
with, the basic grammatical structures. Here are some
examples of the Point and Touch sentences used to practice
specific grammatical structures:
(1) BE (is): Point to the man who is from Japan.
(2) BE (are): Touch the boys who are from Brazil.
(3) Possessive case: Point to Tom’s father.
(4) HAVE (has): Point to the girl who has a parrot.
(5) Negative with doesn’t: Point to someone who
doesn’t have two dogs.
(6) BE (was/wasn’t): Touch someone who was/wasn’t
born in 1945.
(7) Comparative: Point to the taller man.
(8) Future with going to: Point to the boy who is going
to close the window.
It is also here, within each grammatical structure,
that much of the vocabulary is presented visually through
the figures which serve as cues for the exercises.
(b) Listen and Act
The Listen and Act exercises are classical TPR exercises,
presented in a substitution-type format which allows
the students to visualize the structure and the teacher
to make many different commands from one key sentence.
The exercises were developed with the idea that they
would be first done as a teacher controlled listening
exercise, and later as a student listening and speaking
pair work exercise.