Oral drills are a technique that we teach during the IDELT™ TEFL training course. Since oral drills can be difficult to set up and facilitate, we usually suggest teachers-in-training try to implement them later in the course after they become comfortable with the foundational classroom management techniques. Nevertheless, it is an important skill to develop.
What is a drill? A drill is a very controlled speaking activity that requires the English student to demonstrate understanding of meaning and accuracy of pronunciation and form. It is a good idea to verify this understanding before moving on to less-controlled or free-speaking activities since your aim is to set them up for success in those fluency activities.
How are drills implemented in the EFL classroom? Here are a few quick suggestions.
- Drills typically come before fluency tasks but can also be used for error correction.
- Unless your students are familiar with drills, they may require some modeling.
- Graphic organizers help students see the pattern of your questions.
- Try to keep the pace up during the drill, especially for more advanced students.
Here’s an example. This week in my ESL class I taught the first conditional to beginners. I was concerned because the structure is complex for lower level students, i.e. they contain two tenses (simple present and simple future) and two clauses (condition and result). I put the following table on the board.
|If it’s…||we’ll/we won’t|
|sunny,||have a picnic|
|rainy,||watch a movie|
|warm,||go for a job|
|cool,||go for a walk|
This structure allows for a lot of drills. Here are some we did:
Teacher: If it’s sunny…
Student: If it’s sunny, we’ll have a picnic.
T: If it’s rainy…
S: If it’s rainy, we’ll watch a movie.
T: Go swimming…
S: If it’s hot, we’ll go swimming.
T: Go for a jog…
S: If it’s warm, we’ll go for a jog.
T: Will you go for a jog if it’s cold?
S: If it’s cold, we won’t go for a jog.
T: If it’s rainy…
S: If it’s rainy, we won’t go for a jog.
T: What will you do if it’s cool? If it’s sunny? If it’s rainy?
This post was written by Matthew Clark.