ESL Drilling Ideas

ESL drilling ideas are not always easy to come by, especially finding ones that are new and innovative. It is common practice when teaching a different language to give a sentence pattern or grammatical practice and ask the students to practice said sentence structure with a partner in a dialog.

willynn ThompsonThis can be a very useful practice but sentence drilling can be somewhat boring for teachers and students. Here are some ways to spice up dialog practice!

1. Slang

Sometimes, to take a break from stale and boring sentence patterns, it can be a fun idea to teach your students some slang. Perhaps some slang is more necessary than you think—include phrasal verbs in your lesson as well!

Teach them everything from “bae” to “fleek” and ask your students to create a small dialog with their neighbor using the new slang. Students love learning these strange words and they will have a great time enacting a scene in the front of the class—the more embarrassing the better!

2. Races

Competitions are always popular amongst students—dialog races can be a great way to create authentic dialog right off the cuff. Have your class break into two teams—a student from each team will use the sentence pattern you have taught them in an improv situation against the other team.

If the student cannot answer the other student, they bow to the back of the line. The team who can improv their way through the line wins!

3. Running Dictation

Running dictation can be a great exercise for speaking and listening. Whether a teacher gives the dictation or a student, both parties can glean much from the reception of said dictation.

Read a small passage to your class and see if they can write what you are saying—this can tell you what level your student’s listening is. Give your students a passage or have them perform a dialog for the class to write down to see if the class can ascertain their speech and scene.

4. Story/Movie Script

After teaching your students a couple of sentence patterns, slang, or vocabulary words, see if they can put together a small script and act out a story or a play using their new dialog.

Your students can play any role they want, make a video, or act it out in front of the class while the other students guess what they are doing, who they are, where they are, and why while using English.

5. Real-life Task

Now it’s time to use their dialog in real-life! Get them to act out your own scenario in your class—are they going to a restaurant or a movie? Do they have to buy a ticket and ask each other what to see? Maybe they have to order food and ask what each other wants.

Or after asking permission take your students to a restaurant or coffee shop to see if they can order what they want in English!

Good dialog is a great common staple in English class but it can get stale and boring—if it is stale and boring, chances are, students will not remember it. Spice it up a bit, challenge your students, and see how much they learned!

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