Drilling activities for teaching grammar.

Photo of a teacher and students working together in a classroom. Ideally, the teacher is saying something and the students look like they're repeating after him/her.

Source: Klaus Vedfelt, Getty Images

This is a very valuable activity and students need to hear and repeat target language to get their ears attuned to it and their tongues used to producing it.

  • Model the target language e.g. He can pick up an elephant. Ensure you use the schwa in can. Allow students to hear the model sentence a number of times.
  • Get students to repeat the sentence all together – you may need to say 1-2-3  to get them to say it at the same time.
  • Get individual students to repeat the sentence so you can check that they have got it right.
  • Repeat with other example sentences: He can’t pick up an elephant, she can speak Japanese etc.
  • Allow plenty of opportunities for students to hear and say the target language.

Practice ideas

Form – students need to be able to recognize and produce the written form

Writing the target language can aid memorization and produces a record of the language in their exercise books that they can refer back to.

They can practise the written form in a number of ways. Choose one or two of those below:

A.   Download a grammar worksheet with five pictures of Mighty Mike and Weedy Will.

Students have to read the following sentences and match them to the pictures.

He can break a wall.
He can’t pick an elephant.
He can pick up an elephant.
He can’t break a door.
He can fight a crocodile.

Here students read the sentences and their focus in on the words on the page linking with the meaning of the pictures.

B.     Give the students sentences like these:

fight   can   he   crocodile   a
can’t   wall   a   he   break

Students write out the sentences correctly, focusing on word order.

C.     Give students this grammar grid:

He can pick up an elephant
She can't    


Then ask them to add words to columns 1,3 and 4:

He can pick up an elephant
She can't fight a crocodile
I   speak Spanish
We   swim  
They   cook spaghetti
    play basketball

Give students sentences like this and ask them to fill in the missing words:

Mighty Mike ……….............................… pick up a car.
Weedy Will can’t ……….................……. a crocodile.

Don’t forget to include presentation and practise of question forms.

Can you / can he / can they etc?

Students match questions to answers, e.g:

Can you play the piano?                            No, they can’t.

Can he swim?                                          Yes, she can.

Can they pick up a car?                            Yes, I can.

Can she speak French?                            No, he can’t.


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