Thank you for another informative podcast.
I have found TPR fascinating. It is so much more than gestures or getting students to move. I used to think it was the equivalent of moving to the 'Head and Shoulders' song. However the success of TPR has really made me rethink how languages are learned.
For me, TPR includes making language easy to understand. There are no tricky questions or any need to 'think' about the answers. It is the job of the teacher to make sure the students instantly understand what they say. If students hesitate it is an indication that the teacher needs to backtrack or slow down. Not only must student instantly understand the language, they need to react to it. Ramiro Garcia created a bogus written language and taught it via TPR by having students hear the commands and work with parts than whole of his written language. (pick up 'uh' etc until students can recognize his made-up alphabet)
Another misunderstanding is that all students must move around. In fact James Asher (without the 'n') usually demonstrates TPR with only 2 students at a time.
Numerous studies in TPR point out that students do not need to 'practice' speaking as much as they need to hear and understand it first. Here is one such study. It uses the standard Japanese-style class of listen and repeat as well as introducing the written words from the very beginning. In contrast the TPR classes relied heavily on listening and introduced the written word much later, YET the TPR students performed just as well on the reading portion and in fact retained more after 3 months.
http://www.nara-edu.ac.jp/CERT/bulletin ... 08-R09.pdf
In my own teaching, I try to use gestures and movements, but I also try to present any new materials as painlessly as possible. The faster students understand with less wordy explanations, the more they remember.
I apologize for the long post. I guess I am one of the people Mark referred to in the podcast who thinks TPR is more than a teaching method, and probably gets more wordy than necessary.
James Asher's book is highly recommended. It offers a lot of convincing information that provides clues why most language classes fail to produce students who actually speak the language.