drilling

Flappy Drills – ‘Class, say after me…’

In this latest guest post, CELTA Trainer Nicky Salmon offers some tips for drilling pronunciation.

I watch a lot of teachers doing drills to focus on pronunciation.

Picture yourself drilling the following-

Teacher: OK class, listen….vegetable, vegetable

Students: Vegetable

Teacher: Vegetable

Students : Vegetable

Many teachers manage the turn taking (model, repeat, model, repeat) quite successfully but sadly forget to make it clear WHAT feature they want students to hear/identify and so repeat.

For example, with VEGETABLE,

-how many syllables are pronounced and which is stressed?

-are all the vowels full or is there a schwa sound in there somewhere?

If the teacher forgets to make it clear in some way what the features are, then this is a FLAPPY DRILL.

There are many times when we need to focus our students on making the sounds of the new language we are teaching them.

  • Maybe a consonant cluster in a new piece of vocabulary, for example, /br/ or /rts/.
  • Maybe the  schwa /ə/ sound or an unexpected pronunciation that doesn’t seem to mirror the spelling, for example, the varieties for the written ‘ea’,
  • Maybe the word has two or more syllables and the stress need to be identified.
  • Maybe the stress in a sentence is linked to the meaning or the intonation pattern is clearly linked to the feeling or attitude of the speaker.

(more…)

A fun way to drill

A bit of repetition never hurt anyone! It might not be the most riveting stuff, but sometimes I come across these ‘listen and repeat’ drills in our materials or in books. They’re ok. I used to like substitution drills myself. You know, teacher models sentence, students repeat, teacher changes a word or phrase, students repeat again, etc. The British Council explain it better than me.

Anyway, I’ve taken to adding flipchart slides like this into my lessons when a bit of drilling is needed:

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(image rights: credit.com, sweetpics.site, traceylind.wordpress.com, corrupteddevelopment.com)

I got the idea from JB, Senior Teacher at British Council Vietnam. The text at the top is a hint to the target language – in this case it was ‘Can you… Could you… Would you be able to…’, phrases for making requests. Then there are some pictures for things to request, then the YES/NO symbols.

Procedure:

Get yourself one of these

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(image from cleaningshop.com.au)

  • First, do a bit of practice. Say the name of a student. Quickly slap the phrase (e.g. CY) then the picture with the fly swatter. The student says the full phrase – ‘Can you pass me the salt?’
  • Repeat this a few times, quickly so students have to think fast. You could do it in pairs, groups if you want, up to you.
  • Bring in the ‘YES/NO’ button. Just say a student’s name and slap the tick or cross. The student says one of the target phrases you’ve taught for agreeing to undertake the request (e.g ‘sure, no problem’) or refusing (e.g. ‘sorry, I can’t’). Practise a bit.
  • Put these together. Say two students names, then slap the phrase, a picture then YES or NO. The first student you say must make the request, the second student must respond.

What’s good about it?

My adult classes find the fly swatter funny. They like the quick fire nature of this, and it leads to some lively collaboration and correction. Only giving clues for the phrases keeps them guessing. You can get students to take over the swatting if you want. It only takes a few minutes to make a few different flipchart slides like this. It’s a nice 5 minute activity leading in to more controlled practice and it livens up a sometimes boring activity.

The feature image for this post is another example (in the future, eventually, one day, at some point)

Give it a go. Let me know what you think. Any other tips for drilling new structures?