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  • elzascott

Drill It Into Your Head

Updated: Oct 23, 2022

Have you ever heard of drilling? No, not ‘heard’ but ‘heard of’ drilling! And not the type that happens in the street or at a dentist’s but drilling in the classroom… Well, in case you haven’t, make sure you read on as I’m going to give you the best tip ever to take your English up to dizzying heights, to a level you have never thought possible… But at the cost of a bit of practice, of course. Only ‘a bit’, as the most important thing in language learning is not the ‘how much’ but the ‘how’! But before I get to the ‘how’, let’s see the ‘why’. You might already understand quite a lot when you watch films with subtitles (well done!), or when you watch films without subtitles (even better!), or when you talk to native/fluent speakers (fantastic!). BUT: how is your speaking coming along? Can you join in the conversation? Do you know how to react to what you hear, what you get asked without thinking – or perhaps you still have to go through the motions of translating things in your head, then think of what you want to say in your own language, then try to translate it into English, but you just can’t find the words? And then there’s grammar to consider too… And all that thinking takes so long! And your mind just goes blank! Is your conversation partner still there? Probably not, unless they have the patience of a saint… If the above sounds familiar, no worries, it is perfectly normal! And there is a way to fix this! All you need to do is activate your English. Stop learning more words but work with what you have already! Activate the language you have already, at your own level. How? Through drilling, of course! Here is how it’s done. You hear a model of a language item and you repeat it. If you repeat it as it is, it helps you with pronunciation and grammar (‘repetition drill’). If you hear a model with a gap, you have to repeat the language item and put in the missing word (‘substitution drill’). If you hear prompts only, you need to produce the full language item with a small change each time (‘transformation drill’). An example: Teacher: ’see’ Student: ‘you should’ve seen it’

Teacher: ‘do’

Student: ‘you should’ve done it’ (etc) This last one is particularly useful as it brings together pronunciation and intonation practice (linking!), also you need to think of the correct verb form (past participle), and the faster you can reply, the deeper you learn the grammar/vocab (remember, they are inseparable). So, that's why drilling is the best way to activate your English. And now the cherry on the cake: ’drilling’ is something you can do on your own too! Any time, anywhere – walking, running, even sunbathing. Just think of a structure: e.g. ‘like + …ing’, and think of all the things you like: ‘I like sunbathing, I like swimming, I likedoing nothing’ (etc). All you have to do is think ‘me, me, me’! This is the way to personalise the language, to make it real, and to activate it. Job done! Happy drilling!

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