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Drilling as a Teaching Method: Pros and Cons

Drilling as a Teaching Method: Pros and Cons | ITTT | TEFL Blog

Teaching is a way of imparting knowledge to students. When teaching English imparting in language, it means the teacher will be imparting knowledge about the language to his/her students, according to the level of the student eg starters, elementary, pre-intermediate, intermediate or upper-intermediate level.

There are many teaching methods and these include gramma translation, presentation/practice/production, communicative language teaching, the silent way, suggestopedia, the lexical approach and audio-lingual method (drilling). This paper will focus on analyzing drilling as a teaching method so that one can weigh on whether it is an effective teaching method or not.

This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Jacquelline M. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.


According to the Teaching English British Council, drilling is a key feature of audio-lingual approaches to language teaching which emphasizes repeating structural patterns through oral practice. The objective of drilling is for the student to develop good pronunciation habits.

When drilling it is important for the teacher to be clear, confident, enthusiastic and have a good voice projection.

There are many types of drilling, and chorus drilling is one of them. This is where the whole class repeats the model altogether. A teacher can also use drilling through flashcards together with choral drilling. In this case, the teacher will show an image and word side of the flashcard, for instance, an apple fruit, the teacher will show the image and the word side to the children and first say this is an apple showing it to children and the children will repeat the word after the teacher. Later the teacher can show the student the image only expecting the student to pronounce and say the name of the fruit on their own.

esl learning

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Drills are effective as a way of helping students to memorize and adapt concepts. For instance, when teaching wants to teach students the multiplication table learning, drills are used on each number to help students to memorize.To add on drilling is effective when teaching words that need repetition for improvement.Also with drilling, the more students repeat the words, sentences or numbers the more they can quickly recall the meaning of the material.

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Although they are advantages, there are also disadvantages to this teaching method. Some of the disadvantages include the fact that this teaching method is not effective when teaching more abstract concepts but it is effective on basic knowledge. This, therefore, means that this method can not be very effective when teaching Intermediate or Upper-Intermediate level students, but it is rather much effective to elementary levels.

Furthermore, learning is not all about memorizing but rather knowing. For memorizing does not give a deeper understanding or meaning to the word or sentence. However, for starters, it will be ok, for it will be only preparing them for the next levels where they will be taught deeper about the language.Drilling is also not effective, when students are not prepared enough, for they will not be able to maintain the pace if they are not clear about a concept.

lesson at school

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This paper is of the view that the drilling method is an effective teaching method. This is because, According to ESL, the core purpose of teaching English as a foreign or second language is to convey the language interestingly and articulately, drilling is a way of teaching English interestingly. For instance, a teacher may tell the children to play a game with visual aids like forming a circle and having images of animals moving around in every child's hand, the one who will have the animal in their hand will show it to others and say the name of the animal and the other students will repeat the words. This is learning interestingly through drilling.

When teaching English, the other purpose is to encourage students to improve their English skills through listening, speaking, reading and writing. Drilling teaches both listening, reading and speaking skills. For instance, a teacher may write a word on the board and say it out to students who will repeat what the teacher will have said. In this way reading, listening and speaking skills are developed such that when the teacher points a word at the board after drilling, children will be able to recognize the word, meaning they will have developed reading skills.

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The other purpose is to assure that learning English is easy while developing a child's enthusiasm for a desire to learn a new language. If you drill to your students with the confidence, using gestures, with a clear voice and enthusiasm you will achieve this goal.

To enable children to communicate simply but effectively through the development of oral proficiency in English. Drilling helps in improving oral proficiency as one of the aims of drilling is to develop good pronunciation habits.

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However, learning is not all about teaching students habits or creaming but rather knowing or to make students being able to produce language more effectively from the knowledge they will have acquired. But as a starting point drilling is effective as it will be providing basic information to the students, and as the students will be advancing that is when they will have a deeper understanding. Thus drilling is most effective to elementary students as it lay a foundation on basic knowledge, but it won't be effective when teaching more abstract concepts.

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