Drilling With Modern English Teacher

dual_drill1.jpgI was once rather stumped by a supervisor’s request to utilize drilling and flash cards with an advanced group. It’s fine for irregular verbs and minimal pairs, I thought, but how to incorporate it into higher levels? I have to say the ways which were initially suggested to me really didn’t cut it: hold up a flash card with the first part of a phrasal verb, and get the students to tell you the particle/second part. This wouldn’t be so bad if there was only one possible answer, but obviously “put” can be followed by up, off, on and probably some others. The challenge is getting the meaning straight.

A Director of Studies at another school made a good and relevant suggestion: drill separable and non-separable verbs: “put him up” but not “put up him”.

The October 2006 issue of Modern English Teacher had some other interesting suggestions, courtesy of Simon Mumford.

To drill two tenses:
A pair of students sit facing each other and imagine they are on a train, looking out the window. Student A sees things first and tells B what the people he sees are going to do (“He’s going to fall off his bike”). Student B is traveling backwards and sees everything a moment later (“Oh, yes, he’s just fallen off his bike”). You can give A prompts or just let the students use their own imaginations.

To drill some modal verbs:
Another good and fun drill involves students taking the roles of parent and child – the point is to show that the negative meaning of a modal verb is not always just the negative form of the positive. For example, A, the parent, is giving lots of rule to B, the teenager, and the teenager is resisting. “You should eat all your vegetables.” “I don’t need to eat all of these vegetables!” I’d make sure my students had a few clear examples (positive/negative pairs) to follow before starting this one.

To drill future forms:
Draw a picture of two men (if you can), one looking very organized and professional, and the other, not. The first is Will B. Doing and the second is Will Do. The purpose here is to illustrate the difference between future continuous (“Ah, yes, tomorrow I’ll be having lunch at the Four Seasons”) for planned and future simple (“Hm, I’ll probably just grab a sandwich”) for spontaneous decisions. Give a set of pre-made prompts (with pictures or keywords) to the first student – he is the organized one, after all – and he has to start. Will Do just has to (spontaneously) think of his own answer.