Drill Sessions

What are drill sessions?

Drill session can be a valuable opportunity to enter the world of the new language. Using English with the tutor, with each other, and even in whispered asides and comments, undermines the very purpose of the session.

REMEMBER: English will not be used during drill session. After all, since the tutor is not a teacher, since grammatical questions are out of place, since learning is dependent on your prior multimedia work, WHY should you want to use English? You will find that not using English is easier than you think, IF YOU SIMPLY TRY!

Does my language trainer has an accent?

If you find that your tutor seems to have a slightly different accent from the voice on the multimedia resource, remember that variations in language are to be expected. Even among your English-speaking classmates, it is unlikely that everyone speaks the same way. Any variation would be well within the range of your learning capabilities.

Wow, that’s really fast!

If you find that your tutor is speaking too fast for you, do not ask him or her to slow down. Your comprehension skills are developed through the tape component, and you can stop your tape machine and listen to an utterance, said exactly the same way, over and over until you understand it.

If you do have problems understanding your tutor, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Am I spending a great deal of time studying the material visually rather than using the multimedia?
  • Am I using the multimedia with my book open, so that my eyes are really doing the comprehension work, rather than my ears?
  • Am I concentrating on learning single words rather than on conversational utterances?

I am feeling embarrassed…

You will be constantly corrected in drill session. The tutor will not be embarrassed in correcting you, and you should not be embarrassed in being corrected. You will be very embarrassed if native speakers cannot understand you after a quarter or two or a year of working in the language! The tutor will be very embarrassed if your poor abilities reflect on him or her. Try to develop a positive attitude about correction. It will be one of the tutor’s key functions, and it is certainly in your best interest as a potential language user.

Textbook in Drill Sessions

No textbook.

It will be important to CLOSE or put away your book during the drill session. In studying a language, many of us are much better in the visual mode than in the oral/aural mode. Our “eye memory” seems ever so much more reliable than our “mouth and ear memory.” The idea is not to avoid or forego visual work, but rather to use it as a preparatory step for oral/aural work. Please do not use the visual crutch in tape work and in drill session, since your goal is to speak and comprehend the language in face-to-face communication. If you find that your first impulse, when called on in the drill session, is to open the book, you can be sure that you are not using the tape component properly.

Can I just talk about anything I want?

Most of the drill session time will be devoted to pattern drills and exercises. There will be virtually no “free conversation,” since this assumes full control of the very basics that you will be learning. Drills and language-use exercises are part of a learning design to insure that, at some point, you will be able to carry on a free conversation.

You might feel limited at first because of the vocabulary. Textbooks purposely restrict vocabulary — the easiest thing to master in a foreign language — so that you can concentrate on the more difficult components of learning: pronunciation, sentence structure, and fluency. A massive vocabulary is of no purpose if you cannot use the words in a grammatical sentence with accurate pronunciation and smooth delivery. Additional vocabulary can be easily learned after you are over the major hurdles.

You will be asked to memorize, or more properly stated, “overlearn,” certain dialogues. You are not being asked to memorized because one day you will need to know to ask for the 3:15 train to Golmarmara. You are asked to “overlearn” dialogues for the following reason:

  • to promote fluency and intonational accuracy
  • to allow you to internalize examples of patterns for later expansion through drills and exercises
  • to demonstrate how words are actually used in sentences and social contexts.
  • to introduce formulaic and idiomatic expression (e.g., salutations, introductions, apologies, etc.), and to show the appropriate usage of such expressions in communication situations.