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Is Drilling an Effective Teaching Method?

Is Drilling an Effective Teaching Method? | ITTT | TEFL Blog

There are a lot of teaching methods. Some of them are more popular, some of them less. But the theme of this summative task is about efficiency, not about the most interesting or the most popular method. So, is drilling an effective teaching method? If we want to ask this question, first, we need to consider the following question: “What is drilling?”. After this, we can discuss the pros and cons of this method.

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

What is drilling for?

In short, drilling is a classroom technique that used to practice a new language. In common sense, it involves modeling a word by the teacher and the learners repeating it. But our main question: ‘Is drilling an effective teaching method?’ In my opinion, it is a very difficult question. Let’s discuss some reasons.

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At first, the efficiency of this method depends on the skills of the teacher. I mean there are a lot of non-native English teachers. And native English teachers also have different pronunciation. Everyone knows that pronunciation in Great Britain and the USA has a huge difference. There are 59 countries where English is the official language (according to Wikipedia). So the place of birth and living, level of education and teaching experience will influence the efficiency of the drilling teaching method.

Group size

The second, the teacher must consider the age of students and the size of the group. For example, repetition is very effective for children, especially those who do not yet know how to read or can’t read well. In the huge group the teacher can’t hear every student, consequently can’t correct them.

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Students’ Level

In third, the effectiveness of the method decreases with the growth of the student’s level. So at the beginning of education drilling is a powerful method. But for an intermediate student, this method will be not very effective.

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Advantages and Disadvantages

What are the pros and cons of drilling? In the beginning, let's look at the advantages of this method. I think there are a lot of advantages. For example, the teaching of pronunciation, studying specific English sounds, demonstrating of moving of the mouth as part of speaking ability. Also, there are some not immediately noticeable reasons. For example, drilling can help to organize the class of kids, attract the attention of bored students and help students take a break.

But what are the negative sides of drilling? One of the negative sides of drilling is noise. If the teachers provide a lesson in the huge class, for example, 30 students, then there is a huge noise. This can prevent neighboring classrooms from teaching the lesson. Another negative side is repeating without understanding. I remember that when I was a student I did not like this method. The reason is that I didn’t hear the voice of the teacher, and even if I heard the voice of the teacher I could not understand. Thus, I repeated but did not understand what exactly. I think it can happen in every classroom in the world if the voice of the teacher is silent, pronunciation is not good or the group is too big.

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I’m sure that there are a lot of other pros and cons. In any case, even considering all the negative aspects, drilling is an effective teaching method!

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