Drilling: Effective or Outdated in a Modern EFL Classroom?
As an instructional strategy, drilling is familiar to all educators. It is best defined as a disciplined and repetitious exercise, used as a mean of teaching and perfecting a skill or procedure. As an instructional strategy, it promotes the acquisition of knowledge or skill through systematic training by multiple repetitions, rehearse, practice, and engages in a rehearsal to learn or become proficient. It is also a common method used by many teachers when introducing new languages to their students. The skills built through drill-and-practice become the foundational building blocks for more meaningful learning.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Kasey K. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
There are many positive advantages for a teacher to utilize the drilling method, the first being that students benefit because they are applying knowledge through interaction. Drills are also used successfully when teaching students techniques. For instance, when young people are learning basic language grammar, they can do drills on grammar to help them memorize; they can then proceed to more difficult concepts that use the information obtained from drills.
Another effective way drilling is delivered is through the computer. The two formats used the most are reading/math and several areas of the curriculum. The computer can effectively track and plan individualized drilling for students at their unique pace. This also helps students more efficiently evaluate themselves according to the computerized model. Overall, we can see that students in all grades benefit from drill because it deepens their understanding and increases familiarity and are useful to reinforce and practice more rote knowledge and skills.
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We know the positive outcomes from drilling, but what are some potential drawbacks to practice and drills? The first is, drills are not effective when students are not prepared enough; they will not be able to maintain a pace if they are still unclear about a concept. Furthermore, drills are typically for more basic knowledge or a more physical understanding. If teaching about more abstract concepts, a drill methodology would not be appropriate. Third, drilling also inhibits students from being creative and innovative in their learning. Lastly, it is primarily teacher controlled, as it restricts students from repeating what they heard from their teacher and imitating them.
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As a Health and Physical Education teacher, I have had a lot of personal experience with the use of drills with students. Most sports require students to be proficient in the fundamental skills of the sport, if a student doesn’t have these skills, most can best develop them through drills. Drilling helps students to hone skills that need repetition for improvement. Additionally, students can also use this technique with one another for shared learning opportunities. For instance, in soccer pairing up with a partner and practicing the different types of passing with one another. Drilling, when used with an activity helps the students become more interactive and creative in their learning.
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In closing, to answer the question, is drilling an effective teaching method? I would say, yes! Although we’ve noted the disadvantages to the method, there is proof that drilling is an effective way to teach students new concepts. The constant repetitions, rehearsal, and practices help a student to strengthen their skills and become more proficient. Teaching students through various methods such as flashcards or repetitive rewriting can help them use these skills in different environments and in several different ways. Overall, drilling helps a student to solidify newly learned skills and allow them to learn certain concepts quickly and effectively. It’s also important that teachers don’t rely solely on drilling as the primary teaching method but rather use it alongside other methodologies.
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