Practice Activities and Tasks

Brainstorm noun + verb: To think of ideas (usually quickly) about a topic (often noting these down). This is often done as preparation before writing or speaking.

Categorisation noun, categorise verb: To put things into the group (category) to which they belong. For example, students might categorise a list of different foods into groups such as fruit and vegetables.

Chant noun + verb: To repeat a phrase, sentence or poem, usually with others, in a regular rhythm.

Choral drill: see drill.

Communicative activity: A classroom activity in which students need to communicate to complete the activity.

Controlled practice: see practice.

Drill: A technique teachers use for encouraging students to practise language. It involves guided repetition or practice.

  1. In a choral drill the teacher says a word or sentence and the students repeat it together.

  2. In an individual drill the teacher says a word or sentence and one student repeats it alone.

  3. In a substitution drill the teacher provides a sentence and a different word or phrase which the student must use (or substitute) in exactly the same structure, e.g.

    • Teacher: I bought a book. Pen.

    • Student: I bought a pen.
  4. In a transformation drill the teacher says a word or a sentence and the student answers by changing the sentence into a new grammatical structure, e.g.

    • Teacher: I bought a pen.

    • Student: I didnt buy a pen.

    • Teacher: I went to the cinema.

    • Student: I didnt go to the cinema.

Extension task: An activity which give students further practice of the target language or the topic of the lesson.

Freer practice: see practice.

Gap-fill: An activity in which students fill in the spaces in sentences or texts. This is often used for restricted practice or for testing a specific language point. This is different from a cloze test which can focus on reading ability or general language use. See cloze test.

Guided writing: A piece of writing that students produce after a lot of preparation by the teacher. The teacher may give the students a plan to follow, or ideas for the language to use.

Individual drill: see drill.

Information-gap activity: A classroom activity in which students work in pairs or groups. Students are given a task, but they are given different information and to complete the task, they have to find out the missing information from each other.

Jigsaw listening/reading: A text which is divided into two or more parts. Students have to listen to or read their part, then share their information with other students in order to complete the task. In this way, the text is made into an information-gap activity.

Jumbled paragraphs, pictures, sentences: A text in which the paragraphs or sentences are not in the correct order, or a series of pictures that are in the wrong order. The students have to put the text or pictures into the correct order.

Label: To match the name of an object to the object. Students are often asked to label pictures of objects with the correct name.

Less controlled practice: see practice.

Mind map: see word map.

Picture stories: Stories that are in pictures instead of words.

Practice: controlled practice, restricted practice

When students practise the target language in restricted situations in which they have little or no choice of what language they use. The teacher focuses on accurate use of the target language.

Less controlled, freer practice: When students practise the target language more freely, with more choice of what they say and what language they use.

Prioritising: see rank ordering.

Problem solving: Students work in pairs or groups to find the solution to a problem. Problem-solving activities usually help to develop fluency.

Project work: An activity which focuses on completing a task on a specific topic. Students often work in groups to create something such as a class magazine. Students sometimes have to do some work by themselves, sometimes outside the classroom.

Rank ordering: An activity in which students have to put things into order of importance for a given situation, e.g. they have to decide which four things to take on holiday with them (passport, toothbrush, money etc.) from a list of ten. This is also known as prioritising.

Restricted practice: see practice.

Revision noun, revise verb: When a student or teacher looks at language or skills that have already been taught again in order to remember this language better. Teachers often do this in the classroom to help students to prepare for a test.

Role-play: A classroom activity in which students are given roles to act out in a given situation.

Substitution drill: see drill.

Survey: Students find out information from others by asking questions or using questionnaires in order to practise.

Target language: 1)The language which is the focus of the lesson or a part of the lesson. It could be grammar, lexis, functions or pronunciation, 2)The language being studied, L2.

Task: An activity which students complete which has a definite result. For example, problem-solving activities or information-gap activities are tasks.

Task-type: A set of questions that are all of one kind which are used to assess students, e.g. multiple choice, gap-fill, matching.

Transformation drill: see drill.

Visualise, visualization: To form a mental picture of something. Visualisation can help students to remember new words or can be used for creative story-telling.

Word map: A way of recording vocabulary on the same topic in a diagram. This is also known as a mind map.


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