I attended a free webinar organized by Teaching House yesterday. In the first half, we listened to Lizzy Adams describing a 5-stage drilling activity. Here’s a quick summary for those who couldn’t make it.

Lizzy first launched a poll to elicit our attitudes towards drilling. Here are the results-you can see my answer at the bottom:

Not a huge fan

I must admit, I’m not a huge fan. I mostly teach  teenagers and adults and although I model new language clearly and students are welcome to repeat, I don’t ask them to do it. Or rather, I ask but don’t insist. Most of my teenagers seem to find it embarrassing or uncool. Some adults do it but mostly in one-to-ones, not group classes.

First and foremost

Make sure students should know the meaning of the target word or sentence before you start drilling, otherwise it’s just mechanical, meaningless repetition.

Lizzy’s suggested procedure:

  1. Teacher models. Students just listen.
  2. Teacher models. Students notice the difference between written and spoken form, any features of connected speech.
  3. Teacher models. Students listen and imagine saying the sentence.
  4. Teacher models. Students make the physical movement but don’t produce the word/sentence.
  5. Teacher models. Students repeat.

Interesting, isn’t it? I look forward to trying it.

What about you? What drilling activities do you use in class? Do share your ideas in the comments!

Further reading

Listen, but let’s work on how we repeat it! – PronSIG – Pronunciation Special Interest Group at IATEFL

Drilling 1 | TeachingEnglish | British Council | BBC

Drilling 2 | TeachingEnglish | British Council | BBC