Teach English in Zhulin Zhen - Huanggang Shi

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Drilling is a method utilised by teachers which can be defined as the, “Choral and individual listening to and repetition of the teachers model of pronunciation.”(ITTT, Module 12, Pg. 2) It is a teaching method that, if used with the correct goals in mind, would be very useful to the teacher as a lesson tool and to the student as a learning tool. There are instances where drilling would not be the appropriate teaching tool and may even be detrimental to the learner however, that is something that can be avoided by the teacher through effective lesson planning. The nature of drilling, suitable learning objectives, the suitable ESA (Engage, Study, Activate) stage to utilise drilling in , and a basic example of how a teacher can include drilling in their lesson plans and will be explored. Finally, a brief exploration of instances where drilling is not a suitable teaching method to apply will be touched on before a final thought is given. Drilling is a teaching method that falls under the ‘controlled activities’ classification (ITTT, Module 12, pg. 2) in which the teacher is responsible for all the language used. With drilling, the teacher presents a context and situation for the use of certain language and then explains and demonstrates the language to the student. It is an effective teaching method when used to teach and practice pronunciation, introduce new vocabulary to the learners, and act as a form of class participation. The initial step in a teacher using drilling should be to introduce the student(s) to the new word, phrase or sentence using an accurate and familiar source, that being the teacher themselves. Following this step, a student may have trouble pronouncing the new language, possibly because they are making sounds new to their mouths or are afraid of the new vocabulary. Drilling addresses this by being an effective way to imprint an accurate pronunciation and use of the language into the learners mind, as well as allowing them gain confidence in their spoken proficiency when they perform correctly. When carrying out drilling, it is important to consider the number of students in your class and how you are going to about it and in a situation where the teacher is drilling more than two students, the use of the ‘3 by 3’ drill is suggested. The drill is carried out by, before drilling three students individually, the teacher saying the phrase or word and asking the whole group to repeat it as one. By doing this, the students are given, ‘‘A safe environment for them to practice pronunciation, and any mistakes made by individuals will not be apparent to each other.’’(ITTT, Module 12, Pg. 2) Another consideration when wanting to use drilling is the ‘drilling content’ in relation to the students. The teacher must make sure the vocabulary being taught suits the learner’s competency and is not too advanced or basic. The activity though, must be placed correctly in the lesson to be effective. Within the ESA lesson model, the ideal point to include it would be at the Study stage. This is because the main focus of this stage is to adequately equip the student with accurate vocabulary and grammar and determine if the information has been correctly received. Drilling does this by equipping the student with the vocabulary and grammar through the teacher saying the English term clearly and accurately. Once this is done, by getting the students to repeat the term or statement, the teacher is able to solidify the information in the student’s minds while ensuring the student has correctly received the information. An example of effective use of a drilling exercise as a teaching tool is when a teacher is teaching parts of speech to a class of fifteen beginners. The teachers objective in the lesson is to demonstrate the use of adjectives in basic conversation and one of the adjectives the teacher believes the students may struggle to say the word ‘expensive’. During the study phase of their lesson, the teacher would say the phrase, ‘the expensive car was fast’, two or three times clearly and accurately, and would then ask the class to repeat it as one, three times. The teacher would then ask three of their students, at random, to repeat the sentence again and may correct them if necessary. By carrying out this process, the teacher would be able to correct any incorrect pronunciation immediately, and imprint the correct way in the student’s minds in the same activity. As was stated before, there are instances where drilling is not ideal to use. Outside of the Study stage of the ESA teaching model, drilling would not make sense. The Engage stage is introductory in nature and is meant to get the students to participate in the class and talk in English as much as possible, with new information not being the goal. Drilling is introducing new information and without a sufficient introduction and engagement beforehand, would result in confusion and a lack of effective student participation. It would also not make sense in the Activate stage either as this stage is meant to allow the student to create and use the language freely from what they have learnt with fluency in mind. Drilling does not this as the content is teacher generated and the student’s fluency cannot be assessed. To conclude, drilling can be effective when used correctly, but ineffective if not. When used as a tool in the Study phase of the ESA model to impart new vocabulary to the students and ensure its accuracy, it is effective. When used in other parts of the lesson though, it is not effective as it impedes on the goals of the Engage stage (which is for initiating the learning process not acquiring new knowledge) and the Activate stage (which is meant for student generated language and fluency, not accuracy using teacher generated language). Effective and competent lesson planning will determine whether drilling is effective but if used correctly, it can be.