Passive Voice through TPR (Total Physical Response)

Passive Voice through TPR (Total Physical Response)

rated by 10 teachers

Learning passive voice is necessary because so much of academic writing is composed in the passive form (note the prior clause, for example).

However, students often don’t understand the passive or why sentences should be written “backwards” or in a way they would never say them.


To make the function of passive voice apparent in a very physical way, start by dropping a book on the floor. Ask the students “Tell me about the teacher.” They’ll respond “The teacher dropped a book.” Write the active voice sentence on the board then drop the book again. Ask, “Now tell me about the book.” Students will respond “The book was dropped by the teacher”; students may need some help in generating the correct passive form.

The teacher should write the passive voice sentence on the board. The active and passive voice should be compared and discussed in terms of form and meaning. If appropriate, continue the discussion of the passive in different verb tenses. Students can then work in pairs and perform various actions like dropping books, taking out paper, opening pens, and so on, and composing sentences in passive and active.


This is effective because it makes apparent in a very physical and graphic way the meaning and use of the passive voice.