Drill Pattern Activities for ESL Students

Drill and practice is a behavioral approach to acquiring language. Through the frequent use of drills, students will hopefully uncover the pattern and structure of the language.

Although there is criticism of drill and practice such as the focus on memorization and the common inability of the student to generate language on their own. This method is still used frequently in language teaching.

The purpose of this post is to provide several drill and practice activities that can be used in teaching language. In particular, we will look at the following activities

  • Inflection
  • Replacement
  • Restatement
  • Completion
  • Transportation
  • Contraction
  • Integration
  • Rejoinder
  • Restoration


Inflection involves the modification of a word in one sentence in another sentence


I bought the dog —–> I bought the dogs


Replacement is the changing of one word for another


I ate the apple —–> I ate it.


Restatement is the rewording of a statement so that it is addressed to someone else


Convert the sentence from 2nd person to third person

Where are you going?—–>Where is he going?


Completion is when the student hears a sentence and is required to finish it.


The woman lost _____ shoes—–>The woman lost her shoes


A change in word order is needed when a word is added to the sentence


I am tired. (add the word so)—–>I am so tired.


A single word replaces a phrase or clause


Put the books on the table—–>Put the books there


Two separate sentences are combined


They are kind. This is nice—–>It is nice that they are kind


These are responses to something that is said. A general answer based on a theme is expected from the student

Example say something polite

Thank you

Example agree with someone

I think you are right


The student is given several words and they need to combine them into a sentence


boy/playing/toy—–>The boy is playing with the toy


The examples in this post provide some simple ways in which English can be taught to students.  These drill and practice tools are one of many ways to support ESL students in their language acquisition.


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