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Welcome to The Teachers’ Room. The show all about teaching practice. Grab a cup of coffee, pull up an armchair and relax. Learn something new, remember something fundamental or just have a giggle.

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The Teachers' Room

Drilling

Dan and Sian talk about drilling techniques.

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TTR 20 Teaser TTR 19 Teaser Exam Skills teaser

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Drilling
Drilling is the repetitive oral practice of a target language structure. It focuses on accuracy and provides students with an accurate model of the target language. However, it can be dull.

Choral  
The simplest drill. The teacher says the target structure and the class or an individual repeats it. Regardless of whether you choose to drill as a group first, always take a moment to choose a few students at random to drill individually. In this way you may be able to correct someone who, when drilling as a group, sounds fine but needs individual adjustment – don’t let anyone hide in the crowd!

Variations
Drilling can be boring and make people feel silly or self-conscious. Deliberately making it silly should help people relax and enjoy it a little more, so don’t be afraid to use a variety of voice styles. Try shouting, whispering, using high and low voices and mumbling.

Substitution
The teacher sets up the target language and the students repeat. Then the teacher changes the drill by changing one word and the students insert this new word into the old structure and repeat it again.

Transformation
The teacher sets up the target language and the students repeat. Then the teacher changes the structure in some way, for example by changing the tense and the students repeat the target language in the new structure’s form.

Back-chaining
This is good for drilling longer sentences or working on features of connected speech. Instead of drilling from the beginning of the sentence, as is usual. Back-chaining begins at the end and works backwards. Remember to break the sentences down into manageable chunks first!

Chain
In this case the teacher sets up a question and answer drill by asking the first student a question in the target structure. The student provides a correct answer and then asks the next student, who also answers. The drill passes along the line in this way.

Split
Splitting one target structure (probably a sentence) across many students. They must be as accurate as possible, producing the structure exactly, or they need to repeat it again!

To do

Try our quiz to see if you've picked up our tips.

The Teachers' Room Quiz

4 Questions

Check what you've learned by selecting the correct answer to each question.

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Get involved

Well, those were just a few ideas that we here at BBC Learning English had, but we know that you teachers out there have lots of fantastic ideas too, and we’d like you to share them with us and everybody else.

If you have a great tip or technique for drilling, or anything else, please email us at learningenglish@bbc.co.uk. Your email could be posted here on this page, or may even be mentioned in our show.

We are also looking for video tips to include in the programme. You could be rewarded with a T-shirt for your efforts.

End of Session 4

Next up is Learners' Questions. What will this week's Learner Question be? Whatever it is, Dan's here with the answer! Join us in Session 5 to find out.

Session Vocabulary

  • Drilling

    • Choral
    • Variation
    • Substitution
    • Transformation
    • Back-chaining
    • Chain
    • Split