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Add thrill to your drill!

Students generally enjoy drilling exercises especially when they are done in an energetic manner and don’t go on for too long.

Rather than nominating individual students immediately, use choral drilling first. Make drilling exercises less predictable by nominating students, pairs or groups randomly rather than going around the class from left to right.


All together now

Choral drills can involve the whole class but it’s easy to introduce more variety to choral drilling. Nominate students in groups to repeat after you, e.g. boys and girls, by nationality, by age, by hair colour or even by shoe size.


Use natural language

When drilling new vocabulary and structures it is important to provide a natural model for your students, using contractions and features of connected speech. For example, your model of “I want a pear” should sound like /aɪwɒntəpeə/, with the schwa (/ə/) rather than /æ/ for ‘a’ as it is a weak form when spoken in a sentence.


Competitive drilling

Have all the students stand up and put them into two teams facing each other. Give your model and have all students repeat. Do this three or four times, then signal to one of the teams. They should then say the target language and throw it over to the other team. The teams get points for volume, enthusiasm and accuracy to your model. You can repeat this with other target language and award a prize (or just ‘pride’) to the winning team.


Substitution drills

This works well when chunks of language are introduced. Start by drilling the target language, e.g. “What would you like?” – “I’d like a pizza, please.” Then prompt students to substitute the keyword with alternatives, i.e. “I’d like a salad, please.” You can do this by saying the other word, e.g. “salad”, or showing a picture of a salad, or pointing at the word on the board.


Chain drill

Chain drills work well for drilling standard exchanges, e.g. drill “I feel like having a steak. What would you like to eat?” and then start the chain by addressing a student who may answer “I feel like having pizza. What would you like to eat?” and ask the next student and so on.