Command Drills

An activity for beginners

During the first sessions with beginners, my students are not required to speak. Instead, they concentrate on obeying simple commands in the target language. The objective of these commands is to connect physical activity with meaningful language use as a way of instilling concepts. These command drills are usually used as a receptive practice for different language points including:

  • Vocabulary
    • To practice classroom vocabulary items such as door, board, desks, teacher, students, book, pens, bag, ruler…
    • to present the parts of the body (nose, head, hair, eyes, foot, tongue…)
    • Or any other vocabulary
  • Grammar
    • Pronouns (me, you, him, her, us, them…)
    • Tense (to practice the imperative)

Command drills can also be used as a nice ice breaker activity. They create a lot of fun in the classroom while students get to know each other’s names and respond physically to meaningful language use.

How to use command drills?

Command drills can take the form of:

  • individual
  • or whole class commands.

Whole class command drills

After a short introduction of key vocabulary items like parts of the body, school things etc, I use whole class command drills. The vocabulary can be introduced simply by pointing to objects or by performing actions. Then I use commands like the following:

  • Stand up / sit down
  • hold up your hands
  • show me your book/(blue) pen/ ruler/ear/eyes/mouth…
  • Touch your head/shoulder/ear…

Individual command drills

I may also use individual drills to help students introduce their names or to check students comprehension of vocabulary or grammar. Here are examples of individual commands:

  • Please, tell me what your name is / Please, your name…
  • Ok Leila, stand up please.
  • Go to the board.
  • Walk to the door.
  • Write your name.
  • Write number 1, 2, 5, 8…
  • Show me the window.
  • Point to your classmate Lisa / point to the teacher….

These demands eventually become more complex. For example, “Walk to the door” becomes “Stretch your arms while you walk to the door” or “touch your ear while you write your name on the board”…etc  Students later become more actively involved, verbally and creatively.

As you can see Command Drills can be used to introduce a wide range of language items for beginners who will be able from the start to understand and perform actions in the target language. The activity is inspired from the Total physical Response method.

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