Why Sentence Drills are Better than Teaching Grammar

But the majority of teachers are ignoring the proven benefits of sentence drills in younger learners.

Complete this task, fill this gap, answer this question... sound familiar? Have we lost sight of the main objective of ESL language classes, which is to make and reproduce sentences? Get your students speaking and expressing themselves quickly and without teaching any theory. Read the article below on the benefits of this method then download specially designed worksheets based around sentence drill, for free!

The Audiolingual Method (ALM) - Sentence Drills

Language drills can be a very effective approach for learning new vocabulary or language structures. They are a way of ensuring new vocabulary is introduced in a curriculum context. Language knowledge doesn’t necessarily translate to language reproduction, especially in younger learners. The best way to get young learners to start speaking is sentence drill and repetition. Through drilling, learners internalise the target language and are more likely to be able to produce it independently in the future, both in speech and writing.

Imagine you have moved to a new city and you need to know how to get from your house to your new workplace. What would be the quickest way to learn? Studying a map over and over and learning all the street names? Or would it be better to get out of the house to do a dry run until you have memorised the way? Of course it’s the second option. You don’t know the exact kilometres, you don’t know the street names, but you know how to get there. This also seems to be the case with language learning in younger learners.

Moulton's Audiolingual Slogans

  • A language is speech, not writing.
  • A langauge is a set of habits
  • Teach the language, not about the language.
  • A language is what native speakers say, not what someone says they ought to say.
  • Languages are different

After all, what use is it teaching grammar to a young learner who doesn’t even know what grammar is? Most young learners will be incapable of utilising this grammatical knowledge in order to make sentences. Even though they might be able to rattle off irregular verb conjugations, placement of frequency adverbs etc, once you ask them to recite their morning routine, they freeze up. They will also most likely commit grammar errors orally even though they can easily pass a written test.

So is teaching language theory futile?

Not necessarily, but how can we as teachers get them to speak comfortably? A great way to do this, before we go jamming their heads up with grammar do’s and don'ts, is to practise sentence drills and repetition.

"Our worksheets are designed to provide the students with easy to understand sentences and pictures to choose from ."


How - Drilling Techniques

Drills are a technique commonly used in older methods of language teaching particularly the audiolingual method and used for practising sounds or sentence patterns in a language. A drill which practices some aspect of grammar formation is often known as pattern practice.

Let's look at some ways we can practice sounds and sentence patterns based on different forms of guided repetition.

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Free Worksheets

Discover out free worksheets designed for sentence repetition in young learners. Our worksheets are designed to provide the students with easy to understand sentences and pictures to choose from. They range from describing their morning routines, their hobbies, their family or themselves.

Why they are so effective? They were designed with the principles of the audiolingual method and pattern practice in mind and have been proven to get students speaking. Moreover, they are designed to be adapted to each teaching style. If you read the teacher's guide you'll see how the worksheet is extremely versitile and can be done through a variety of methods. It lasts ten minutes or can last a whole hour depending on your preferred teaching style or lesson objectives.