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Drilling vs. Other Teaching Methodologies: ✅ Is it Still Effective?

Drilling vs. Other Teaching Methodologies: ✅ Is it Still Effective? | ITTT | TEFL Blog

The author and motivational speaker Hilary "Zig Zig" Ziglar wrote, "Repetition is the mother of learning, the father of action, which makes it the architect of accomplishment." Drilling is defined as a teaching technique or method used when teaching a new language through extensive repetition by students, also aided through audio, oral, or even optical channels or props. As with other teaching methods, repetitive drilling has both advantages and disadvantages and has been deemed effective and ineffective over the years.

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

Training Accuracy

Drilling allows for frequent oral practice of the foreign language being taught with a significant focus on accuracy. This is where students are encouraged to get familiar with and learn words and phrases of the new language. It, in turn, aids with the intonation patterns and overall pronunciation and usage of said language. This method helps memorize what has been taught, as repetition does influence memory in a significant way. Drilling can be used to keep the class interested and focused, and somewhat entertained with the usage and incorporation of creative drills. Additionally, this method also allows for on-the-spot corrections, where during exercises and repetitive activities, the teacher can evaluate or assess and provide feedback where necessary.


On the other hand, this method can be tedious if overdone and can result in uninterested and disruptive or quiet students. The lack of variations can negatively impact the student's learning patterns, and this technique can be seen as monotonous and lacking creativity. This technique may not work for all lessons, and not all students have the same level of learning and or intelligence. It may encourage repetition and participation without a complete understanding of the lesson or what is being taught.

As most techniques have their drawbacks, a few factors can be taken into consideration to determine or rather ensure the effectiveness of the drilling technique or any other technique. The teachers must stay mindful of the students' level and group, both mentally and otherwise. For example, younger students are said to be more receptive to the drilling techniques than the older ones. They are also considering the classroom size to ensure proper classroom management during the implementation of such practices.

Advantageous in Combination

Drilling is most effective when used through methodologies and techniques. Teachers can choose to modernize the drilling technique by incorporating more creative activities that facilitate repetitions. Namely, songs, rhymes, and chants accompanied by gestures or hand movements and a familiar tune can be very effective for the younger learners. Drills can be in the form of games, which require repetition. These can be in the form of pictures or flashcards to introduce vocabulary and phrases to the class. Interaction with peers can be an effective drilling method where students are placed in small groups, eliciting repetitive dialogue.

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In conclusion, this technique used appropriately and creatively can be proven effective in the classroom allowing for student participation and interest, enhancing their communicative competence, and a good grasp of the language being taught.

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