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Year Two E.L.

T Methodology # 4 (part 1)

Practice - techniques and materials designed to give students

practice in specific items or areas of language.

Practice activities are those which fall somewhere between the two
extremes of the communication continuum:

Oral practice – ways of getting students to practice oral English

1. Oral drills
2. Information gap activities
3. Games
4. Personalisation and Localisation
5. Oral interactions

I. Oral drills

 Cue-response drills

Cues are words, photos, pictures, flashcards or mimed actions .

The teacher indicates what he wishes the students to say.
For example, practicing Present Continuous structure:

Teacher: read … (nominates S1)

S1: I am reading now.
T: watch TV … (nominates S2)
S2: I am watching TV now.
 (four)-phase drills e.g. Q-A-Q-A
There are (four) stages or phases. You can also have a six- or eight- phase
drills – or any number. Four seems to be the most useable.

Encourage students to ask a question and on the basis of the answer

follow it up with another question, e.g:

A: Is John British?
B: No, he isn’t.
A: Where’s he from, then?
B: He’s American.

 Mixed question and answer drills

(in the following example the teacher works with the whole class who
see the following wall picture:

In this particular example, the teacher will elicit the following questions:
- What’s his/her name?
- Where’s he/ she from?
- What’s his/her job?
- What does he/she do?
- How old is he/she?

Teacher: Ok. Ask me about Pierre’s age.

S1: How old is Pierre?
T: Answer...
S2: 39

 Chain drills
This is a way of practicing a particular structure over and over again
in the context of either a game and/or a personal element.
The teacher chooses the structure and says e.g. “I am going to watch TV
The nominated student has to say:
“He is going to watch TV tonight. I am going to read a book tonight”
The next student has to remember the first two speakers’ plans and then
add his or her own. Lots of structures can be used for this kind of drill, for
example like DOING, I’ve always wanted to DO, I’ve never DONE, at seven
thirty last night I was DOING etc. Chain drills are an amusing way of
getting quick and involving practice of a particular structure, and if the
memory element is added they can be made into a game.

 Group drills – card games

In this kind of drill students work with a specially prepared set of
cards/flashcards/photos. The cards may show different activities taking
place. Students are put in groups of three or four and are given a set of
cards. The cards are either put in front of the students, face down, or are
dealt among students, depending on the type of activity. Students take it
in turns, pick a card and have to ask another student a question about the
activity on the card. (see fishy stories )
This is a simple cue-response drill, but the students are conducting
the drill themselves rather than being controlled by the teacher. The
random selection of the cards makes the drill enjoyable and quite
challenging, and the use of groupwork means that the students get a
chance to participate in a co-operative and friendly way.
Cards of this kind have a use in many kinds of drill activities where
students can practice specific items of language without being inhibited by
the teacher.

II. Information gap activities

With information gap activities different students are given bits of


By sharing this information they can complete a task. Information gap may

be used to provoke the practice of specific items of language. In other

words, this kind of activities are also drills, but because they have a

slightly communicative element built into them they are more involving

and motivating than a lot of question and answer practice. For example,

in the activity below the students practice asking ‘Wh’ questions:

The map
II. Games can be used at any stage of a class to provide an amusing
and challenging respite from other classroom activity, and are
especially useful at the end of a long day to send the students away
feeling cheerful about their English class. They provide great
language practice and also therapeutic effect.

 Noughts and crosses / tic-tac-toe

This popular children’s game can easily be adapted for the English

classroom to ensure the practice of specific language items in an amusing


The class is divided into two teams; one represents noughts (0) and the

other crosses (X). The teacher puts the grid on the board:

and fills in the words / grammar items he wishes to have practiced


can play are

hers neve can’t

mine this there

The team selects the square it wishes to play for, and a member of the
team has to say a sentence using the word on the square. If the sentence
is correct the square is filled with a nought or a cross, depending on the
team the player comes from.

To be continued...

Harmer, J. The practice of English Language Teaching, Longman